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Thread: Help Choosing a Finish

  1. #1
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    Help Choosing a Finish

    Just started doing some study on finishes and it's daunting and I realize how little I know.
    Haven't done any serious spray finisheing work yet. I have a LVLP gun arriving soon and anxios to learn

    Below is a list, probably with many contradictions.
    1. Fairly easy to use in a LVLP gun
    2. Can be applied in cooler weather under less than ideal conditions
    3. Clear over bare wood, cherry, oak
    4. Easy cleanup
    5. Something of a deep finish with good protection

    I do want to consider only spray options for this learning cycle. I may try some rub on oils etc later.

  2. #2
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    SO many choices.... For spraying, waterborne is the way to go, IMHO. Great for your gun, too. Most (but not all) waterborne finishes tend to have a colder color directly on wood so it's not uncommon to use wax free shellac (also very sprayable) first or BLO, wax free shellac and then the top coats. There are a few waterbornes that have a warmer look. I'll cite Target Coatings EM2000 in that category as I'm familiar with it. It's an emulsified oil finish in waterborne format. Whatever you choose, plan on spraying some to practice on well prepared scrap. Yes, that costs money, but it will get you used to your new gun and help you dial it in for each particular finish you decide to use.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    SO many choices.... For spraying, waterborne is the way to go, IMHO. Great for your gun, too. Most (but not all) waterborne finishes tend to have a colder color directly on wood so it's not uncommon to use wax free shellac (also very sprayable) first or BLO, wax free shellac and then the top coats. There are a few waterbornes that have a warmer look. I'll cite Target Coatings EM2000 in that category as I'm familiar with it. It's an emulsified oil finish in waterborne format. Whatever you choose, plan on spraying some to practice on well prepared scrap. Yes, that costs money, but it will get you used to your new gun and help you dial it in for each particular finish you decide to use.
    When you use the EM2000 do you usually use Emtech USH3000 or EM1000 sanding sealer forst? Hoping to find one or two products if possible and stick with them.

  4. #4
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    It's not necessary to use the sealer but they are good products. I do use the EM1000 from time to time, particularly on the guitars I started building, but largely for additional grain filling where a little sanding back happens and as a carrier for dye. But as noted, I also use wax free shellac as a "sealer" and/or barrier coat and then go right to the clear. I mostly use EM6000 and EM7000 clears, but love the EM8000cv (has some warmth) as well as the EM2000. Get on their mailing list so you get the discount codes which will typically save you 20-25%. You should also try the excellent General Finishes products...I'm starting to experiment with them a little myself because I've been using Target for so long I feel it's good to contrast so I can always choose the best finish for a given project.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  5. #5
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    The fly in the ointment of your list is cooler temps and less than ideal conditions. The only finish tolerant of almost any condition is shellac, which sprays great but is not all that protective. Lacquer can be used at fairly low temps., I think, but I know little about it because it's too much of a risk for my shop. WB's have a minimum temperature requirement and if you don't adhere to them you risk failure of the bond or curing of the finish, or both. 55F or so is the limit for most of them.

    I use General Finishes products most of the time because they have a broad range and I never have problems with them. Of their products, Enduro Clear Poly is my overall favorite for ease of spraying, good looks, and durability. Lenmar's Duralaq-WB, available at Benjamin Moore, is my favorite low cost product. It sprays beautifully, dries and hardens fast, and is perfect for low stress applications like non kitchen/bath cabinets.

    My experience with most WB products is they are often dead clear. TC's EM-9300 has a decided amber tone, but that's about the only one I'm familiar with. GF's EnduroVar is said to have an amber tint, and is supposed to age like a traditional OB varnish, but it's still pretty clear to me. That's not a bad thing in my mind, it's just the nature of WB products, and it's often a very good thing when you want a really clear finish. But when I want a more traditional oil based varnish look I start by spraying a coat of Sealcoat shellac. It does two beneficial things. It tints the wood with a light amber tone and it prevents the grain from raising when you spray the WB finish afterwards. If I want a more aged varnish look I either spray a coat of dye directly on the wood first, or I add dye to the Sealcoat shellac. Transtint dye is soluble in both water and alcohol (shellac) and offers a lot of flexibility for use as a dye or tinting shellac or even your WB topcoat.

    John

  6. #6
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    Oooh...I missed the cooler conditions. That's not a good thing for almost any finish like John mentions. You really need to provide temperature in the range stated by the finish manufacturer, for the sir, the finish material and the physical project to insure best results.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by John TenEyck View Post
    The fly in the ointment of your list is cooler temps and less than ideal conditions. The only finish tolerant of almost any condition is shellac, which sprays great but is not all that protective. Lacquer can be used at fairly low temps., I think, but I know little about it because it's too much of a risk for my shop. WB's have a minimum temperature requirement and if you don't adhere to them you risk failure of the bond or curing of the finish, or both. 55F or so is the limit for most of them.

    I use General Finishes products most of the time because they have a broad range and I never have problems with them. Of their products, Enduro Clear Poly is my overall favorite for ease of spraying, good looks, and durability. Lenmar's Duralaq-WB, available at Benjamin Moore, is my favorite low cost product. It sprays beautifully, dries and hardens fast, and is perfect for low stress applications like non kitchen/bath cabinets.

    My experience with most WB products is they are often dead clear. TC's EM-9300 has a decided amber tone, but that's about the only one I'm familiar with. GF's EnduroVar is said to have an amber tint, and is supposed to age like a traditional OB varnish, but it's still pretty clear to me. That's not a bad thing in my mind, it's just the nature of WB products, and it's often a very good thing when you want a really clear finish. But when I want a more traditional oil based varnish look I start by spraying a coat of Sealcoat shellac. It does two beneficial things. It tints the wood with a light amber tone and it prevents the grain from raising when you spray the WB finish afterwards. If I want a more aged varnish look I either spray a coat of dye directly on the wood first, or I add dye to the Sealcoat shellac. Transtint dye is soluble in both water and alcohol (shellac) and offers a lot of flexibility for use as a dye or tinting shellac or even your WB topcoat.

    John
    Thanks John for the detailed reply. Most of it went over my head but gave me a lot to research while it's snowing here now. High humidity and freezing temps are too extreme of any covering except a parka.

    John

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    Oooh...I missed the cooler conditions. That's not a good thing for almost any finish like John mentions. You really need to provide temperature in the range stated by the finish manufacturer, for the sir, the finish material and the physical project to insure best results.
    Maybe this time next year I might have a better handle on the environment for my finishing but until then I may to wait for spring

  9. #9
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    It doesn't have to be complicated, honest. But if the weather is poor now I'd focus on finishing by hand indoors. Depending upon your tolerance for stink, you can apply shellac and many WB and oil based varnishes by hand. General Finishes High Performance Poly and EnduroVar products are WB varnishes that go on great with a foam brush; both have low odor. Arm-R-Seal and Waterlox are oil based and stink more, but go on great with nothing more than a paper towel.

    Where there's a will you'll find a way.

    John

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