Lacquer Finish on Turnings - by Don Comer

Advantages: Disadvantages:

Durable finish * Not as durable as urethane

Easily repaired * Not as easy as oil finishes

Fast drying times


1. Sand until tear out and scratches disappear. Inspect piece in glancing light, if possible, to highlight scratches.

a. I usually sand to 220 grit unless working with a very dense, shiny wood. When I have to sand to a finer grit I use Klingspor Gold cloth backed sandpaper.. I try to avoid wet or dry sandpaper on light colored woods because the grit fragments can cause the wood to look dirty.)

2. Apply first coat.

a. I use spray lacquer, a brush is beyond my skill level.

b. Avoid spraying when the weather is above 60% relative humidity. You may get lacquer "blush".

c. For beginning lacquer users: Highlight the surface to be sprayed. At first the surface will look hazy, but will turn shiny as the lacquer builds up. Good lighting and practice will allow you to quit spraying after the coverage is complete but before the run starts.

3. Sand smooth with highest-grade sandpaper previously used to eliminate any raised grain.

4. Apply further coats until satisfied with build-up.

a. After the first coat, there is no need to sand between coats except to eliminate flaws such as runs or dead flies, etc.

b. To fill the pores I just use more coats of clear lacquer. I do not use sanding sealers, fillers, semi-gloss or flat finishes. They all have solids in them that obscure the grain of the wood.

5. Allow final coat to dry a couple of days. (Longer if you can stand to wait.)

6. Flatten finish with 600 wet or dry sandpaper.

7. Polish on a soft buffing wheel using white diamond compound.

a. For internal surfaces that you canít reach with a buffing wheel, you can hand polish using rotten stone and water or a light oil. This is the old fashioned "hand rubbed finish".

8. If the gloss is too high for your personal taste, try a final hand rub with white or gray Scotchbrite sanding pads.