Comparing Wood Sealants Side-By-Side - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 Old 01-13-2016, 12:00 PM Thread Starter
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Comparing Wood Sealants Side-By-Side



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Wood is a beautiful material to work with and the right stain or sealant can really bring out and enhance its beauty. Not all sealants are created equal, though – using the wrong one can leave you with an effect other than what you intended. If you want to make sure that you use the best sealant to protect your work while keeping it beautiful, it’s important to know what qualities different sealants have. Here’s a side-by-side look at different sealant types to help you choose the right sealant for your project.
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post #2 of 9 Old 01-13-2016, 01:21 PM
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I would add before any inexperienced person that starts finishing a project they do some homework and see what finish is appropriate for the application they are doing before purchasing the finish. We often have new members here that ruin their projects using the wrong finish and seek us out to find out what to do. They often use a spar varnish for a dining room table thinking since it's good for their front door it should be good for the table. When in actuality the spar varnish may be water resistant but wouldn't hold up to the abuse a table receives. It just scratches too easy. There are many other interior finishes better suited for that application. Another example is a person that uses polyurethane a lot on different projects and finds it a hard waterproof finish and decides to use it on their front door. Then they find out the polyurethane is cracking and pealing off because it is too hard and up to dealing with the temperature extremes of outdoor use. Each different finish has it's purpose and you can create a lot of work for yourself using one where it isn't intended.
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post #3 of 9 Old 01-15-2016, 02:12 PM
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When using Shellac as an under coating is one limited to what can be a finish coating on a project?
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post #4 of 9 Old 01-15-2016, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by DocKin View Post
When using Shellac as an under coating is one limited to what can be a finish coating on a project?
With straight shellac it has a natural wax content in the finish. You can easily apply lacquer or varnish over the top. In the old days when folks used a lot of knotty pine paneling the painters would put a coat of shellac on the knots to keep them from bleeding sap before applying varnish to the wall. Then when polyurethane was developed it was discovered the finish didn't adhere well to shellac. The solution they came up with was to filter the wax out of the finish when they are making it and polyurethane as well as waterborne finishes would adhere to it. The most common form of this de-waxed shellac is Zinsser Sealcoat. The Sealcoat has become a universal sealer because you can topcoat it with so many different finishes.
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post #5 of 9 Old 01-16-2016, 06:48 PM
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With so many finishes out there I have been a little more than dizzy. Then I found a product called Waterlox and have been totally converted to only using it. It not only brings out the beauty of the wood bringing out all the color and grains that never are seen but the sheen that always seems to be what the wood wanted to show. I have found that it is very durable with both an interior material and an exterior material.
Thank you for this other info as I may still use these others some time in the future.
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post #6 of 9 Old 01-16-2016, 08:46 PM
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Where does lacquer fall in this range of sealants? Nitrocellulose lacquer is very popular with musical instrument makers because it remains flexible.
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post #7 of 9 Old 01-16-2016, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by GuitarPhotographer View Post
Where does lacquer fall in this range of sealants? Nitrocellulose lacquer is very popular with musical instrument makers because it remains flexible.
Nitrocellulose lacquer is a pretty good finish for medium to dark colored furniture. The cellulose they use to make it is made from dissolving cotton in nitric acid. Because it is made from cotton it tends to yellow as it ages and may not be suited for light colored woods such as maple. It's not particularly water resistant. It was used by cabinet manufacturers a lot in the 1970's because it was easy to work with and dried fast but they soon discovered the finish started coming off the front of the cabinet at the sink where folks let water run down the front.

A better lacquer would be pre-catalyzed lacquer. It works as easy as nitrocellulose lacquer and doesn't yellow with age. It also is more water resistant. The down side is the finish because it has a hardener in it usually has a shelf life of about six months.

Better yet would be a fully catalyzed lacquer. It has a better hardener for it and like pre-catalyzed lacquer will remain clear. The down side is you mix the hardener to the finish as you use it and what is left over usually has a shelf life less than 24 hours.
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post #8 of 9 Old 01-17-2016, 12:20 AM
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Thanks Steve for the info on shellac. And the follow up from other members.
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post #9 of 9 Old 02-15-2016, 01:13 PM
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What happened to Pre-Catalized Lacquer and Conversion Varnish?

Both of these professional finishes are becoming more and more popular with amateurs. The new rise in popularity of HVLP spray set-ups is partially due to the new self contained turbine models - no compressor required, at reasonable prices.
If you are spraying lacquer or conversion varnish on a spray table or work bench, it will become dust before it reaches the floor.
You can spray the primer and 2 to 3 top coats, clean up and be done in less than an hour. Each coat becomes dust free in about 2-3 mins. and you can handle and sand if about 5 minutes.

Tony B



Retired woodworker, amongst other things, Sold full time cruising boat and now full time cruising in RV. Currently in Somerville, Tx
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