Although brushable lacquers are available, most varieties must be sprayed because the solvents in which they are dissolved evaporate quickly. Those types come pre-thinned and ready for use, but if the can is left open, the product can thicken and need to be thinned before you can use it. Moreover, thinning fresh lacquer may be desirable to modify its drying time or to promote better leveling on horizontal surfaces. Thinning to the right consistency is often a matter of trial and error. Unless it isn't specified, always use the thinner recommended by the manufacturer of the product you're using.
Put on a respirator before you begin working with lacquer or lacquer thinner.
Fill the cup of a spray gun about half full with fresh lacquer from the container. Hold the gun tip about 6 inches from a test surface and spray a coat of material. An uneven spray pattern, sputtering gun or grainy feel to the surface after the lacquer dries are all signs that the lacquer should be thinned.
Remove the cup and pour in about 1 or 2 ounces of thinner. If a particular type of thinner is recommended on the lacquer container, use that thinner. Otherwise, use generic lacquer thinner.
Stir the mixture in the cup for about 10 seconds with a stir stick, or screw the cup back onto the gun and shake it vigorously.
Spray the surface again to test the pattern and check the finish. If you have added enough thinner, the pattern will be even and full and the surface smooth and free of bumps. If the lacquer isn't thin enough, add another ounce of thinner.
Add more lacquer to the mixture if the finish runs or separates. This is most likely to happen when you are spaying metal and you over-thin the material. When the consistency is optimal, the finish will level smoothly to a glass-like consistency before it dries.
Tips & Warnings
- Use a high-volatility thinner if dripping and separation are persistent problems. The thinner will evaporate more quickly and the finish will dry faster -- hopefully before the defects have a chance to develop.
- Always spray a full wet-coat, but don't overload the surface with material or it will drip and separate, no matter what its consistency.
- Lacquer thinner is highly flammable. Keep it away from open sources of heat.
- Lacquer and lacquer thinner are noxious, and the fumes can damage your nervous system. Wear a respirator when working with either product.
Things You'll Need:
- Spray gun
- Test surface
- Lacquer thinner
- Stir stick
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