Applying lacquer might seem very easy, but it is not. You need a significant amount of patience to lacquer wood. There are two rigid methods that you can use- brush or spray. This article will give you all the details you need to lacquer wood. Lacquer makes your work look very professional. Along with that, it is durable too.
Our Recommended Lacquer
How To Lacquer Wood – Step By Step Guide
Total Time: 45 Mins
You cannot directly dive into applying lacquer to the wood. You have to prepare the wood for the application. Lacquer application is quite fun. It’s almost like doing the painting. First, you need to make your wood smooth. Raw wood can be very rough. Therefore you should rub sandpaper on it. This has to be done thoroughly. Rubbing sandpaper on the wood removes imperfections and rough edges. If you are reworking on an old piece, the sandpaper will remove any other finish that existed.
After this step, let your wood sit aside. It has to be sealed. After half an hour, wipe the block of wood clean. It has to be completely dry. After you’ve wiped it clean, apply the lacquer to it.
The first step is essential to carry on. Make sure you follow the steps correctly.
After the previous steps, you can now apply the first coat. You need the right brush to apply lacquer. Usually, you need a chip brush for the application process. Your brush should not be too old. The brush hair has to be smooth. If you have an old brush, soak it water two days prior. Clean it well. Once it’s dry, the hair will be soft. The brush should have smooth bristles. These should be able to hold a vast amount of lacquer.
Although we said applying lacquer is like painting, it is not as simple as it seems. The strokes need to be even. Don’t make long strokes. This is your base coat. Since it serves as the foundation of your finish, it is crucial. Use the same sides of the brush at all times. Do not switch sides. Your brush should hold enough lacquer to last for an entire long stroke.
Now, you have to apply the first coat evenly. Do the edges last. Keep in mind that you need only one coat. It should not be too thick. The first coat is only the starting point. This doesn’t mean that the coat has to be too light either. Once you are confident with the stoke, you can start making longer strokes. These have to be applied quickly.
The wet edges of each stroke should connect with the next stroke you make. By doing this, all the edges will have an even lacquer base. This method of brushing might be quite annoying at the start. When it comes to applying lacquer, you always have more than one way of doing it. You can also spray lacquer. Every method will have pros and cons. Spraying lacquer will be easier than brushing. However, the application might not be even. Spraying is better for large surfaces. Usually, people who prefer using a brush will use a lacquer spray for the finish.
If you are spraying, you need to purchase an HLVP sprayer. Do not compromise with the quality of the sprayer gun. These sprayers use a significant amount of air pressure. The air regulator can be adjusted according to your requirement. The ideal setting is 30-PSI. You have to fill the gun with the lacquer mix. This is just like using a glue gun. The main requirement while spraying lacquer is to have an open space. This place should be well ventilated.
The smell of lacquer is powerful. It can be toxic if inhaled in high amounts. Coming back the lacquer spraying, you need to make a mixture first. You cannot use the lacquer directly. It has to be mixed with a thinner. Without this, the application will be incomplete. The mixture has to be smooth. The thinner and lacquer should be mixed in equal proportion. It has to have a uniform consistency. This will help spray with ease.
The distance of the application does not matter if you are using a brush. Using a spray will pose many health hazards. This is a crucial step. If you stand very far from the wood, the lacquer layer will be thin. It will not cover the wood piece. If you hold it too close, the layer will be very thick.
This can get very messy. The lacquer might even drip from the wood. A reminder that this is still the first coat we are talking about. You have to watch your distance from the spray as well. If you are using the same HVLP spray we recommended, the gun should be around six to eight inches away from the wood. Keep it at arm’s length away from you.
After you have decided on your place correctly, you can start spraying. The spraying needs to be in a lengthwise motion. Keep the sprayer above the surface and push the trigger. Consistently move your hand. Do not adopt any random patter of application. That being said, avoid applying circularly too. This will be very uneven. You will not get the desired finish. With each pass, you have to overlap the lacquer.
In the earlier steps, while you were preparing the wood, we had told you to set it aside for about a half-hour. This is important so that it adjusts to the room temperature. If you have a heater or a humidifier in the room you are working in, turn it off. The temperature should not be more than 65 degrees. Similarly, the humidity should not be above 65 percent. Follow the temperature requirement accurately to have the best lacquer finish.
After the meticulous application of the first coat, you can now move on. Just like you apply paint, first, let the piece of wood dry. Make sure the space around the wood is entirely vacant. There should not be any objects close to the wood. Before you start the next layer, touch wood with a light hand for a check. The lacquer should not be moist. Once it is dry, you sandpaper to finish the first coat. The sandpaper also provides a layer of protection. Since lacquer is very delicate, you should use very thin sandpaper. If the sandpaper is too thick, it will damage the lacquer. Once again, let it rest for some time. Just like the first step, use a piece of clean cloth to wipe the wood once.
There is nothing different you need to do here. The process remains the same. Depending on if you are using a brush or a spray, the method will vary. If you are using a spray, keep the distance factor in mind. Keep applying the lacquer till you have a look you wish for. If you want the surface to be dark, you will have to use a lot of lacquer. Do not get hasty or impatient while doing this. You still want each coat to be even. After every layer, it will help if you let it dry.
Don’t worry; we are almost done. While applying multiple coats, be sure to let the wood dry. You do not need to use sandpaper now repeatedly. Use it only if required. The place you are working in has to be well spaced out. Ventilation is essential to keep your lungs safe from the lacquer fumes. When your lacquer is drying, it will be helpful if you move out of the room. Take in all the oxygen you can before you walk into the lacquer infested room to apply your next coat. While you are at it, keep the room closed but ventilated. You do not want children to touch wood or play with the spray.
After you are done applying the coats you need, there are a few things you have to do before you wrap up. You need to have a pumice stone along with steel wool. Dip the pumice in water for lubrication. These are easy to find. Rub the steel wool over your wood first. Wood is quite perishable if not maintained. Therefore you should also consider laminating it.
The lamination helps it last for many years. It will also give the wood a glossy finish. If not, you can skip directly to paint thinner. The paint thinner acts like a sanitizer for your wood. In case you used your fingers or left stains on the wood, the paint thinner will remove it. Dip your brushes in paint thinner once you are done. Do this immediately after you finish the application of the lacquer. If you do not have a thinner, you can even use soap and water.
After you are done applying the coats you need, there are a few things you have to do before you wrap up. You need to have a pumice stone along with steel wool. Dip the pumice in water for lubrication. These are easy to find. Rub the steel wool over your wood first. Wood is quite perishable if not maintained. Therefore you should also consider laminating it. The lamination helps it last for many years.
It will also give the wood a glossy finish. If not, you can skip directly to paint thinner. The paint thinner acts like a sanitizer for your wood. In case you used your fingers or left stains on the wood, the paint thinner will remove it. Dip your brushes in paint thinner once you are done. Do this immediately after you finish the application of the lacquer. If you do not have a thinner, you can even use soap and water.
Things You Will Need To Lacquer Wood
There are quite a few things you will need to lacquer wood.
- Lacquer: You need good quality lacquer for your wood. Try using the Minwax Gloss Brushing Lacquer.
- A brush: You need a brush with soft bristles. It should have the capacity to hold a lot of lacquer.
- A spray: We mentioned the type of spray you will need in the section above
- A respiratory mask: Lacquer gives out a powerful smell. It is not suitable for your lungs to take in so much lacquer fume.
- An open space: Wherever you are working, there has to be ventilation.
- Sandpaper: Use a standard sandpaper throughout. We recommend the 320 grit sandpaper.
- Steel wool and a pumice stone: These are for the final polishing.
- Paint thinner: It is useful for cleaning your brush after use.
1. What is the best method for lacquer wood?
Both methods work very well. They can be used for any wood. However, the brush method requires more effort. If you are comfortable using both, you can use the brush method for smaller pieces of wood. The spray technique is suitable for large projects. It saves time. The brush method is ideal for beginners. Let’s face it; the spray method is fun. We might get carried away and overspray the wood.
2. What does lacquer do?
We covered this briefly in the introduction. Lacquer is a modern technique that is used for wood finishing. They are mostly used to preserve wood for furniture use. There are different types of finishes by using lacquer—these range from matte to very glossy.
3. Do I need to apply sandpaper after every coat?
No. There is no need to apply sandpaper after every coat. The sandpaper is essential for wood preparation. You have to rub sandpaper after the base coat too. After this, there is no need to overuse the sandpaper. The lacquer will quickly dissolve into its next layer. But in case you need to smoothen some edges, you can always tap on some sandpaper.
Now, you know how to lacquer wood. You can add another skill to your woodworking skills. We hope this article helped you with everything. Using lacquer will give your wood an exceptional finish. It will let your wood last for years.