Wood Finishing

Can Oil and Grain Filler Be Used Together?

No, generally speaking oil and grain filler are incompatible. Both products work by filling in the pores of the wood, so using either will prevent the other from working as intended.

Grain Filler is for use on open-pored woods as preparation for Sanding Sealer, Lacquer and Paint spray finishes.

Oil is used on bare wood and both fills the pores and eventually saturates the wood giving the final top finish. Oil finishes are often finished with waxes such as beeswax and carnauba wax. Some products claim to be an oil grain filler, but this is simply a much thicker oil that fills the pores quickly, after which you apply a thinner finishing oil such as gun oil.

Cellulose Paint vs Nitrocellulose Lacquer

Nitrocellulose lacquers and cellulose paints are often confused due to differing terminology used in different places at different times. We've compiled the comparison table below to try to clear up some of this confusion and help you achieve the finish you have in mind.

If you have any further questions please don't hesitate to get in touch - we're happy to help, and will expand these guides over time to encompass more detailed information.

Before we dive in to the table itself a few definitions are useful:
  Build: Lacquers and Paints are resins dissolved in solvents. This solution conforms to the shape of the surface being sprayed, the solvent evaporates and leaves behind the resin. How much of the solution evaporates and how much is left behind as the final finish is referred to as its solids content, which is analogous with its build. High build has high solids content; low build has a low solids content. The higher the proportion of solids in the liquid lacquer/paint solution the higher the build, the thicker the coat of resin left behind once the solvent evaporates and the thicker the layer of finish.
  High Clarity: A term used when describing see-through but coloured finishes. High Clarity means that it will give the surface beneath a new colour, but will not cover up the pattern. A good example of this is a wood stain, which changes the colour of the wood but does not hide the pattern of the wood grain.
  Opaque: Not see-through - anything underneath will be covered up.
  Tinted: Referring to a lacquer or finish having a pigment or dye added to give it colour without making it opaque.
  Translucent: Slightly see-through, will block some of what is underneath.
  Transparent: Completely see-through, does not obscure or block out what is underneath.

 Cellulose PaintMetallic / Pearl Cellulose PaintTinted Nitrocellulose Lacquer
Used on vintage guitars?Yes, such as 50s FendersYes, such as 50s FendersYes, such as 50s Fenders
See through or opaque?OpaqueOpaqueSee-Through
Clarity:None - it's opaqueNone - it's opaqueMost tinted lacquers have high clarity, giving colour but leaving the grain pattern underneath visible.
Build/solids content?Low/MediumLow/MediumLow
Requires a base coat?Yes - White or Grey Cellulose Primer SealerYes - White or Grey Cellulose Primer SealerYes - Clear Cellulose Sanding Sealer
Requires a top coat?No - Can be polished directly. Top coat only for vintage style finishes, or to give a sheen level not available in the the paint itself e.g. MattYes - Gloss, Matt or Satin Clear Nitrocellulose LacquerYes - Gloss, Matt or Satin Clear Nitrocellulose Lacquer
Thinned using?Standard Cellulose ThinnersStandard Cellulose ThinnersPremium Anti-Bloom Cellulose Thinners
Available in aerosols?YesYesYes
Available bottled for spray guns?YesYesYes
Can be brushed on?NoNoNot recommended
Drying time before polishing:1 weekDependent on top coat2 weeks
Cracks with age?NoNoYes
Discolours with age?NoNoYes
Examples of colours:Fiesta Red; Surf Green; Sonic Blue; Daphne Blue; Seafoam Green; Olympic WhiteShoreline Gold; Gold Top; Lake Placid Blue; Inca Silver; Ocean Turquoise MetallicBlonde; Butterscotch; Sunburst; Lemon Drop; Amber

Comparison of Clear Lacquers

We are often asked "which lacquer is best for my project?". Wood finishes can be a baffling world, many types of finish each with their own characteristics, their own advantages and disadvantages. In an attempt to clear things up a bit we've put together this comparison table.

If you have any further questions please don't hesitate to get in touch - we're happy to help, and will expand these guides over time to encompass more detailed information.

 1K LacquerNitrocellulose LacquerPre-Cat LacquerWaterborne Acrylic Lacquer
Completely clear?YesVery slight amber tint which only shows on white base/paint. 'Warms' wood grain.Almost, similar to nitrocellulose but less obvious.Very slight blue tint only apparent on white base/paint. 'Cools' wood grain, use our warming sealer to counteract this.
Can be used on wood?YesYesYesYes
Can be used on metal?YesYesYesNo
Suitable for use on interior items?YesYesYesYes
Suitable for use on exterior items?Metal onlyMetal onlyMetal onlyNo
ResilienceHighly resistant to abrasion, liquids, chemicals, UV and some resistance to heat.  Waterproof when used on metals.Mild resistance to abrasion.  Susceptible to damage from liquids, heat, chemicals and strong abrasion.  Softened by some adhesives (such as vinyl decals). Discolours when exposed to UV.Mild resistance to abrasion, chemicals and UV.  Slight water resistance. Susceptible to damage from strong chemicals, submersion and strong abrasion.Good resistance to damage from abrasion and UV exposure.  Mild resistance to chemicals and heat.  Water resistance.  Susceptible to damage from high and prolonged heat, strong chemicals, prolonged submersion, very strong abrasion.
Easy to repair?No - needs to be sanded off and reapplied.Yes, melts into layer below so can be spot-repaired with ease.Within first couple of weeks of first spraying, otherwise is trickier.Within the first week of spraying, otherwise trickier.
Breathing apparatus required when spraying?Yes - formaldehyde filtered halfmask respirator or better.Yes - formaldehyde filtered halfmask respirator or better.Yes - formaldehyde filtered halfmask respirator or better.Yes - dust mask or better.
Extraction required when spraying?Yes - area must be well ventilated and extraction should have active carbon filter.Yes - area must be well ventilated and extraction should have active carbon filter.Yes - area must be well ventilated and extraction should have active carbon filter.Area should be well ventilated.
UV resistant?YesNoYes- mildlyYes - mildly
Waterproof?On metal onlyWater resistant on metal onlyWater resistant on metal onlyWater resistant
Can be brushed on?NoClear only, one coat only, retarder should be used. Small items can be dipped.NoYes
Enhances wood grain?NoYes - warms and emphasises grain in the wood.Yes - warms and emphasises grain in the wood.Use with our Warming Sanding Sealer to help bring out grain.
Available in gloss?YesYesYesYes
Available in satin?NoYesYesYes
Available in matt?NoYesYesYes
Available in aerosols?YesYesYesNo - use Preval sprayer if no access to spray gun.
Available bottled for spray guns?YesYesYesYes
Available in tinted/coloured versions?NoYes - more than 25 colours stocked. Colours can be mixed to make your own blend.NoYes
Typical number of coats required.2433
Drying time before polishing.Min. 48 hours2 weeks4 weeks3 days
Drying time between coats.30 minutes4 hours4 hours4 hours
Thinned using..Supplied ready to spray. Clean equipment using Standard Thinners/Gun WashPremium Anti Bloom Cellulose Thinners (10 - 30%)Premium Anti Bloom Cellulose Thinners (10 - 30%)Water (5 - 10%)
Can be used over Cellulose Paint?NoYesYesYes
Can be used over Nitrocellulose LacquerNoYesYesYes
Can be used over oil?NoNoNoNo
Can be used over wood stains?YesYesYesYes
Needs a sanding sealer/base coat?NoYes - use Cellulose Sanding SealerYes - use Pre-Cat Sanding SealerYes - use Warming Waterborne Sanding Sealer
Ideal spraying temperature..21 degrees C21 degrees C - use retarder in warmer conditions.21 degrees C21 degrees C
Ideal spraying humidity..Less than 80%Less than 60% - use retarder in more humid conditions.Less than 60%Less than 80%
Susceptible to blooming?Not under normal conditions.Yes - avoid very damp or cold conditions.Yes - avoid very damp or cold conditions.Not under normal conditions.
Susceptible to cracking?Not under normal conditions.Yes - will definitely happen eventually. Cracking is accelerated by changes in temperature, inappropriate base coats, lack of keying between coats, and over-thinned lacquer.Not under normal conditions.Not under normal conditions.
Discolours with age?Not under normal conditions.Yes - will gradually yellow with age. Process is difficult to accelerate but can be mimiced using our Light Brown or Weak Amber tinted lacquers.Not under normal conditions.Not under normal conditions.
Build/finish thicknessHigh build - for a thin finish spray lightly.Low build gives a thin overall finish even when base and colour coats are included.Medium buildMedium build
Dries glossy or needs polishing?Dries to high gloss, minimal machine polishing required.Dries to low gloss, requires polishing with wet/dry and liquid compounds. Hand polishing recommended, take care if using a machine notto go through the lacquer.Dries to medium gloss, can be hand or machine polished.Dries to medium gloss, can be hand or machine polished.

Guitar Finishing - How To Finish A Guitar Body

Find out below the process and materials required to finish a guitar body in a variety of guitar finishes and for a selection of the most common and popular guitar woods.

How To Spray Finish a Guitar Body in Cellulose Paint

The table below summarises the steps required to finish a bare-wood guitar body in either solid colour or metallic cellulose paint. It assumes you are starting with a new, fresh, previously unfinished guitar body which has had its shaping sanding done, but otherwise is untouched.

 Wood Species 
ProcessAlderAshMahoganyMapleComments
Sandpaper available here.
Sandpaper available here.
Leave for minimum 24 hours before sanding. Available here.
Sandpaper available here.
Sandpaper available here.
Sandpaper available here.
Cellulose primer available here.
Use 400 & 600 grit wet/dry paper, dry. Available here.
Paint (Solid or Metallic)
Cellulose paint available here.
Metallic cellulose paint available here.
~~~~
Only if using a solid colour paint. Do not sand metallic colours.
~~~~
Use our Lightest Brown or Weak Amber to create an instant aged effect over paintwork. Available here.
~~~~
Metallic paints must have a clear coat. It is optional for solid colours - use only for vintage style, satin, or matt finishes.Clear nitrocellulose available here. Leave to dry for two weeks.
Use 600 grit wet/dry paper, dry.
Polishing kit and instructions available here.
Relicing
~~~~
Optional, of course. We recommend creating a pristine finish first and then relicing it back for an authentic appearance and long lasting finish.

 ✓  = Required,  ✗  = Not Required,  ~  = Optional

How To Spray Finish a Guitar Body in See-Through Tinted Nitrocellulose Lacquer

The table below summarises the steps required to finish a bare-wood guitar body in tinted see-through nitrocellulose lacquer. This type of finish will allow some of the grain of the wood to show through the finish, while also giving it a colour. Famous varieties of this type of finish are Blonde, Butterscotch, and all Sunbursts (as seen on Stratocasters, Telecasters, Gibsons etc.). It is also the finish used on the back and neck of some Gibsons, either using Heritage Cherry Red or Dark Rich Mahogany tints. Follow the process outlined below for creating a non-coloured clear natural finish (on both electric and acoustic guitars) - it is the same process, just without the colour coats.

Sometimes you might want to use a dye as well as a tinted lacquer to achieve your final colour effect. The main example of this is when you are finishing a flamed or quilted maple top - you use a water based dye to bring out the figure, then a spirit dye to give the colour, followed by a clear lacquer over the top. This process is detailed in the Figured Maple column.

 Wood Species 
ProcessAlderAshMahoganyMapleFigured MapleComments
Sandpaper available here.
Sandpaper available here.
Leave for minimum 24 hours before sanding. Available here.
~
Optional. This raises the grain on figured maple, allowing the black water dye to penetrate into the figured areas. Once sanded this highlights the figure and creates a 3D effect in the final finish.
Sandpaper available here.
Sandpaper available here.
Sandpaper available here.
~~~~~
Optional. Normally the colour is best applied by using a tinted lacquer later in the process, however a spirit dye is useful if going over maple which has previously had a water dye applied to it. Available here.
Cellulose sanding sealer available here.
Use 400 & 600 grit wet/dry paper, dry. Available here.
~
Ready mixed coloured nitrocellulose lacquers are available here. If you want to mix your own use our Clear Cellulose Sanding Sealer and add to it either our Lightfast Spirit Dye, or a solution of our Aniline Dyes to create a lacquer that will fade over time. If making a sunburst finish start with the central colour and work out from there. Optional for Figured Maple tops.
~~~~~
Use our Lightest Brown or Weak Amber to create an instant aged effect over paintwork. Available here.
All tinted lacquer finishes must have a clear top coat. Clear nitrocellulose available here. Leave to dry for two weeks.
Use 600 grit wet/dry paper, dry.
Polishing kit and instructions available here.
Relicing
~~~~~
Optional, of course. We recommend creating a pristine finish first and then relicing it back for an authentic appearance and long lasting finish.

 ✓  = Required,  ✗  = Not Required,  ~  = Optional

How To Spray Finish a Guitar Body in Waterborne Paint

The table below summarises the steps required to finish a bare-wood guitar body in our waterborne paint. It assumes you are starting with a new, fresh, previously unfinished guitar body which has had its shaping sanding done, but otherwise is untouched. This waterborne paint should be sprayed on. It gives excellent coverage, is available in an increasing range of vintage and modern colours, and contains none of the harmful VOCs found in cellulose paint. The finish is hard-wearing, doesn't crack or discolour, yet is still thin like cellulose.

 Wood Species 
ProcessAlderAshMahoganyMapleComments
Sandpaper available here.
Sandpaper available here.
Leave for minimum 24 hours before sanding. Waterborne available here.
Sandpaper available here.
Sandpaper available here.
Sandpaper available here.
Waterborne primer available here.
Use 400 & 600 grit wet/dry paper, dry. Available here.
Waterborne paint available here.
Use 400 & 600 grit wet/dry paper, dry. Available here.
~~~~
Use our Light Brown to create an instant aged effect over paintwork. Available here.
Clear waterborne available here. Leave to dry for 48 hours.
Use 600 grit wet/dry paper, dry.
Polishing kit and instructions available here.
Relicing
~~~~
Optional, of course. We recommend creating a pristine finish first and then relicing it back for an authentic appearance and long lasting finish.

 ✓  = Required,  ✗  = Not Required,  ~  = Optional

Guitar Paints and Lacquers

 Cellulose Paint
(Solid)
Cellulose Paint
(Metallic)
Nitrocellulose Lacquer
(Clear)
Nitrocellulose Lacquer
(Tinted)
Waterborne Lacquer
(Clear)
Waterborne Lacquer
(Tinted)
Waterborne Paint
Can be sprayed?YesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Can be brushed?NoNoNoNoYesNoNo
See-through or opaque?OpaqueOpaqueSee-throughSee-throughSee-throughSee-throughOpaque
Clarity..NoneNoneHighGoodHighGoodNone
Build/solids content..MediumMediumLowMediumMediumMediumHigh
Requires a base coat?Yes
Cellulose Primer
Yes
Cellulose Primer
Yes
Cellulose Paint
Tinted Nitrocellulose Lacquer
Cellulose Sanding Sealer
Yes
Cellulose Sanding Sealer
Yes
Waterborne Paint or Lacquer
Yes
Waterborne Sanding Sealer
Yes
Waterborne Primer
Requires a top coat?Only for satin, matt or vintage style finishes.Yes
Clear Nitrocellulose Lacquer
NoYes
Clear Nitrocellulose Lacquer
NoYes
Clear Waterborne Lacquer
Yes
Clear Waterborne Lacquer
Thinned using..Standard or Premium Cellulose ThinnersStandard or Premium Cellulose ThinnersPremium Cellulose ThinnersStandard or Premium Cellulose ThinnersWaterWaterWater
Available in aerosols?YesYesYesYesNoNoNo
Available bottled for spray guns?YesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Drying time before polishing?1 weekn/a2 weeksn/a2 daysn/a2 days
Cracks with age?NoNoYesNoNoNoNo
Discolours with age?NoNoYesNoNoNoNo
Examples of colours..Fiesta Red, Seafoam Green, Olympic WhiteLake Placid Blue, Pelham Blue, Inca SilverClear Gloss, Clear Satin, Clear MattBlonde, Butterscotch, Heritage Cherry Red, AmberClear Gloss, Clear Satin, Clear MattBlonde, Heritage Cherry Red, AmberFiesta Red, Seafoam Green, Black

How Many Coats of Oil Are Required?

For the best finish and most protection coats of oil should be applied to the wood until the wood is saturated.

As a very general rule for finishing instruments, furniture and finer items:

- Apply the oil with a brush or soft cloth, leaving 24 hours between coats.
- Apply a coat of oil daily until the wood will absorb no more.
- Leave the oil to dry for 7 days.
- Using 1500 grit wet/dry paper rub in one last coat of oil to the surface to give it a fine, smooth finish.
- Once this has dried for a day a wax, such as blended beeswax, can be applied to offer the final layer of protection and lustre to the surface.

Different oils differ in their viscosity, thickness, and in how hard and resilient they are when dried.

Thinner oils will penetrate deeper in to the pores of the wood but will require a lot more oil to saturate and finish the wood. Thicker oils will build a fuller finish more quickly, particularly on open pored woods such as Mahogany and Sapele.

Examples of thin oils are Danish oil and Tru Oil. Thick oils include Teak Oil, which is used as part of the blend in our high quality finishing oil.

How Much Paint and Lacquer Do I Need For...?

Recommended Quantities of Nitrocellulose Lacquer

ItemAerosolsNeat Lacquer
Telecaster Guitar Body  

How To Apply Oil Finishes

Oil finishes work by soaking in to the pores of the wood, saturating it and eventually forming a layer on the surface. Different oils give finishes with varying durability, chemical and water resistance, and shine.

As the oils soak in through the pores of the wood we would not recommend using them together with fillers such as our thixotropic grain filler, as these fillers block the pores of the wood and inhibit the action of the oil.

The general process for applying oil finishes is as follows:

- Ensure the wood is sanded smooth to 240 or 320 grit.
- Using a clean cloth or brush start applying the oil to the wood. The oil will gradually soak in. Allow 24 hours to dry.
- Repeat, applying more oil with a cloth or brush. Keep applying the oil until the wood will hold no more, until it is saturated. You will be able to tell when this has happened as the oil will not soak in to the surface.
- Wipe off the excess oil, and allow to dry for 7 days.
- Use 1500 grit wet/dry paper to apply a final coat of oil. This will give it a very smooth finish.

Allow this final coat to dry for 24 hours, and then if desired apply a wax finish such as beeswax to enhance the shine.

How To Fix Blooming in Nitrocellulose Lacquer

'Blooming' is an effect caused by moisture being trapped in the nitrocellulose lacquer finish as it dries. This most often occurs when the lacquer is sprayed in cold or humid conditions, or if there is a temperature difference between the lacquer and workpiece. The result is a cloudy white appearance to the lacquer.

It looks dramatic and disastrous but, thankfully, is easily fixed. The cloudy appearance will vanish, and the lacquer return to clear, if the moisture is released.

Nitrocellulose lacquer burns in to the coats beneath it. The solvents in the lacquer when sprayed redissolve the very top of the coat being sprayed on to, and the lacquer then dries to a single homogeneous layer. This is in contrast to modern curing lacquers, where each coat sits on top of the last, building up like the layers of an onion.

To cure blooming key the bloomed lacquer to 600 grit, then apply a light coat of lacquer over the top. This will re-dissolve the existing lacquer allowing the moisture to escape. It should now dry to a clear finish. It is important that this process is performed in a dry, room-temperature environment.

How To Hand Polish Lacquer and Paint

Nitrocellulose Lacquer

Gloss Nitrocellulose Lacquer should be allowed to dry at room temperature for two weeks before polishing is performed. This allows the lacquer to settle and harden, allowing for a higher gloss shine to be achieved and minimising the risk or cracking and peeling.

Hand Polishing
Wet sand the lacquer using 600 grit wet/dry abrasive paper. Only a small amount of water is required, just enough to lubricate the surface without soaking it.

Continue wet sanding through 800 > 1000 > 1200 > 1500 > 2000 grits. Work consistently in straight lines, not swirls.

Ensure the surface is clean, dry and free of all sanding residue.

Using a soft lint-free cloth apply our RF3 polishing compound. The compound should be dabbed on to the cloth, not the workpiece. Work consistently in straight lines, not swirls. Do not allow the cloth to dry out during application. Use a clean part of the cloth to wipe off any residue.

To enhance the gloss further apply our RF5 polishing compound using a clean, soft lint-free cloth. The compound should be dabbed on to the cloth, not the workpiece. Work consistently in straight lines, not swirls. Do not allow the cloth to dry out during application. Use a clean part of the cloth to wipe off any residue.

For the deepest gloss shine apply our RF7 polishing compound using a clean, soft lint-free cloth. The compound should be dabbed on to the cloth, not the workpiece. Work consistently in straight lines, not swirls. Do not allow the cloth to dry out during application. Use a clean part of the cloth to wipe off any residue.

Finish with your polish of choice. Ensure it is silicone-free.
Note: Each stage of the above process eliminates the scratches and swirl marks of the stage before. Working through the stages these marks are gradually minimised until, with the RF7, they are eliminated entirely to give an exceptional gloss sheen. It is important that each intermediary stage is followed, otherwise the finish will be swirly in some parts and highly polished in others. Do not reuse the same part of a polishing cloth for two different compounds; do not mix liquid compounds.

Machine Polishing

Great care should be taken if machine polishing nitrocellulose lacquers using a buffing wheel or similar. In comparison to modern car lacquers nitrocellulose is softer, and if too much force is used the buffing wheel can go through the top coat of lacquer and in to the colour coats below, leaving the finish in need of repairs. Be gentle!

Cellulose Paint

Cellulose Paint should be allowed to dry at room temperature for two weeks before polishing is performed. This allows the lacquer to settle and harden, allowing for a higher gloss shine to be achieved and minimising the risk or cracking and peeling.

Hand Polishing
Wet sand the lacquer using 600 grit wet/dry abrasive paper. Only a small amount of water is required, just enough to lubricate the surface without soaking it.

Continue wet sanding through 800 > 1000 > 1200 > 1500 > 2000 grits. Work consistently in straight lines, not swirls.

Ensure the surface is clean, dry and free of all sanding residue.

Using a soft lint-free cloth apply our RF3 polishing compound. The compound should be dabbed on to the cloth, not the workpiece. Work consistently in straight lines, not swirls. Do not allow the cloth to dry out during application. Use a clean part of the cloth to wipe off any residue.

To enhance the gloss further apply our RF5 polishing compound using a clean, soft lint-free cloth. The compound should be dabbed on to the cloth, not the workpiece. Work consistently in straight lines, not swirls. Do not allow the cloth to dry out during application. Use a clean part of the cloth to wipe off any residue.

For the deepest gloss shine apply our RF7 polishing compound using a clean, soft lint-free cloth. The compound should be dabbed on to the cloth, not the workpiece. Work consistently in straight lines, not swirls. Do not allow the cloth to dry out during application. Use a clean part of the cloth to wipe off any residue.

Finish with your polish of choice. Ensure it is silicone-free.
Note: Each stage of the above process eliminates the scratches and swirl marks of the stage before. Working through the stages these marks are gradually minimised until, with the RF7, they are eliminated entirely to give an exceptional gloss sheen. It is important that each intermediary stage is followed, otherwise the finish will be swirly in some parts and highly polished in others. Do not reuse the same part of a polishing cloth for two different compounds; do not mix liquid compounds.

Pre-Cat Lacquer

Gloss Pre-Cat Lacquer should be allowed to dry at room temperature for four weeks before polishing is performed. This allows the lacquer to settle and harden, allowing for a higher gloss shine to be achieved and minimising the risk or cracking and peeling.

Hand Polishing
Wet sand the lacquer using 600 grit wet/dry abrasive paper. Only a small amount of water is required, just enough to lubricate the surface without soaking it.

Continue wet sanding through 800 > 1000 > 1200 > 1500 > 2000 grits. Work consistently in straight lines, not swirls.

Ensure the surface is clean, dry and free of all sanding residue.

Using a soft lint-free cloth apply our RF3 polishing compound. The compound should be dabbed on to the cloth, not the workpiece. Work consistently in straight lines, not swirls. Do not allow the cloth to dry out during application. Use a clean part of the cloth to wipe off any residue.

To enhance the gloss further apply our RF5 polishing compound using a clean, soft lint-free cloth. The compound should be dabbed on to the cloth, not the workpiece. Work consistently in straight lines, not swirls. Do not allow the cloth to dry out during application. Use a clean part of the cloth to wipe off any residue.

For the deepest gloss shine apply our RF7 polishing compound using a clean, soft lint-free cloth. The compound should be dabbed on to the cloth, not the workpiece. Work consistently in straight lines, not swirls. Do not allow the cloth to dry out during application. Use a clean part of the cloth to wipe off any residue.

Finish with your polish of choice. Ensure it is silicone-free.
Note: Each stage of the above process eliminates the scratches and swirl marks of the stage before. Working through the stages these marks are gradually minimised until, with the RF7, they are eliminated entirely to give an exceptional gloss sheen. It is important that each intermediary stage is followed, otherwise the finish will be swirly in some parts and highly polished in others. Do not reuse the same part of a polishing cloth for two different compounds; do not mix liquid compounds.

Metallic Paint

Metallic Paint is not a top coat and should not be polished directly. Please apply a compatible clear coat over the metallic paint, and follow the polishing instructions for the chosen top coat.

How To Spray Nitrocellulose Lacquer

Nitrocellulose lacquer is a fast drying solvent based spray on lacquer.

It is suitable for use over the following finishes:

Cellulose Sanding Sealer
Shellac Sanding Sealer
Tinted (Coloured but see-through) Nitrocellulose Lacquers
Solid Colour Cellulose Paints
Metallic Cellulose Paints

It may be possible to apply over other finishes, but this is not something we would officially advise. The solvents in nitrocellulose lacquer are strong, and have a tendency to melt and react with non-cellulose finishes. If spraying over a finish not listed above cannot be avoided then ensure that the first coats of nitrocellulose are very light sprays so that most of the solvents have evaporated before hitting the surface, thus minimising the chances of a reaction occurring.

Preparation

Wood

For a natural finish (a clear, see-through finish where the colour of the wood is not changed and the grain is still completely visible) the wood should first be filled and sealed.

Open pore woods such as Mahogany and its substitutes (Khaya Ivorensis, Sapele etc.) should be filled using a grain filler, such as our Thixotropic Grain FIller. Use a colour which most closely matches the colour of the wood itself. See our guides What is Grain Filler? and How To Apply Grain Filler.

All woods then require a Cellulose Sanding Sealer. See our guides What is Sanding Sealer? and How To Apply Sanding Sealer.

The sanding sealer coat should keyed in to 600 grit.

Shellac Sanding Sealer

Shellac sanding sealer should be applied as per the manufacturer's instructions and then keyed to 600 grit.

Tinted and Coloured Lacquer

Tinted lacquers are see through - they give colour, but the grain is still visible. The intensity of the colour depends on the thickness of the coat. Therefore, any keying in of tinted lacquers should be done with great care, and it is usually best to avoid entirely. Unless the keying is uniform across the whole surface then the sanding of keying in can lead to an uneven finish, something that is tricky to fix on a tinted lacquer.

Solid Colour Paint

Solid colour paints should be keyed to 600 grit.

Metallic Paint

Metallic paint should not be keyed before applying nitrocellulose lacquer, as any sanding can give an uneven looking colour and metallic effect.

Spraying

Aerosols

Do not spray in cold or humid conditions. Cold and humidity can lead to moisture becoming trapped in the finish as it dries, giving a cloudy appearance. This is known as blooming. See our guide How To Fix Blooming.

IMPORTANT: Always work in a well ventilated area and wear suitable breathing and personal protection equipment.

Our Nitrocellulose Lacquer Aerosols are pre-mixed and ready to spray.

The lacquer can and workpiece should be at room temperature. If the lacquer has been stored in a cold shed or garage the can should be given a few hours to return to room temperature before spraying (approximately 22 degrees Celsius). It is not necessary to warm the can by soaking in hot water, etc.

Shake the can for two minutes immediately prior to use.

Aerosol cans are activated by depressing the nozzle on top of the can. The nozzle should be depressed fully - only partially depressing the nozzle can lead to a weak or spluttery spray. Coat thickness can be controlled by speed of movement over and distance from the workpiece.

Move across the workpiece at a consistent speed, changing direction off the edge so that the lacquer does not pool around the edges. Overlap each pass by 50%. Work with the workpiece laying flat, not hanging up, to reduce the risk of drips forming.

Depending on the surface onto which you are spraying 2-5 coats will usually be sufficient. Spray coats 4 hours apart. Key lightly before spraying new coat. Do not spray more than three coats in one day.

Spray Gun

Do not spray in cold or humid conditions. Cold and humidity can lead to moisture becoming trapped in the finish as it dries, giving a cloudy appearance. This is known as blooming. See our guide How To Fix Blooming.

IMPORTANT: Always work in a well ventilated area and wear suitable breathing and personal protection equipment.

Our neat bottled lacquer should be thinned 10-30% before spraying using anti-bloom thinners. If the lacquer has been stored in a cold shed or garage it should be given a few hours inside to return to room temperature (approximately 22 degrees Celsius).

Move across the workpiece at a consistent speed, changing direction off the edge so that the lacquer does not pool around the edges. Overlap each pass by 50%. Work with the workpiece laying flat, not hanging up, to reduce the risk of drips forming.

Depending on your thinning ratio and the surface onto which you are spraying 2-5 coats will usually be sufficient. Spray coats 4 hours apart. Key lightly before spraying new coat. Do not spray more than three coats in one day.

Finishing

See our guides on How Long Should Nitrocellulose Lacquer Be Left To Dry Before Polishing and How To Polish Lacquers and Paints.

Lacquer and Paint Drying Times

Cellulose Paint Drying Time

Time before... Cellulose PaintMetallic Cellulose Paint
Paint is Touch Dry15 minutes15 minutes 
Applying Next Coat4 hours (key finish lightly with 600 grit, then apply next coat)4 hours (do not key finish)
Applying Clear Top Coat12 hours (level sand, then apply top coat)12 hours (do not level sand)
Polishing1 weekn/a - apply top coat and polish that

Nitrocellulose Lacquer Drying Time

Time before...Clear Nitrocellulose LacquerColoured Nitrocellulose Lacquer
Lacquer is Touch Dry15 minutes15 minutes 
Applying Next Coat4 hours (key finish lightly with 600 grit, then apply next coat)4 hours 
Applying Top Coatn/a - this is the top coat4 hours
Polishing2 weeks (allows nitrocellulose lacquer to harden before polishing)n/a - apply top coat and polish that 

Waterborne Lacquer Drying Time

Time before...Clear Waterborne LacquerColoured Waterborne Lacquer
Lacquer is Touch Dry30 minutes30 minutes 
Applying Next Coat4 hours (key finish lightly with 600 grit, then apply next coat)4 hours 
Applying Top Coatn/a - this is the top coat12 hours
Polishing2-3 days
(allows waterborne lacquer to harden before polishing)
n/a - apply top coat and polish that 

Waterborne Paint Drying Time

Time before...Solid Colour Waterborne Paint
Paint is Touch Dry30 minutes
Applying Next Coat4 hours (key finish lightly with 600 grit, then apply next coat)
Applying Top Coatn/a - this is the top coat
Polishing2-3 days
(allows waterborne paint to harden before polishing)

Which Woods Need Grain Filler?

Grain filler fills the pores of open-pored woods so that the spray on finishes to follow do not soak in to the wood unevenly. They also fill the larger ridges of grain to allow for a flat surface to be achieved. Grain filler should be followed by an appropriate sanding sealer or primer for the colour and top coats you wish to use.

Grain filler should be used on open-pore woods such as mahogany and its substitutes (sapele, khaya ivorensis etc.), and some ash.

For a natural finish use a colour of grain filler which most closely matches the colour of the wood being finished.

Grain filler should be applied prior to wood stain and sanding sealers or primers. Our thixotropic grain filler can be stained over using our Lightfast Spirit Based Wood Stains.

See our guide on How To Apply Grain Filler for more information on applying our thixotropic grain filler.

Decals, Print

Artwork Formats for Custom Decals

Custom waterslide decals can be ordered directly through our site.

For individual decals please use listing GP0912.

The artwork guidelines and details on how to order from this listing can be downloaded here: GP0912 How To Order

The Artwork Template for this listing can be downloaded here: GP0912 Artwork Template

For A4 sheets of decals please use listing GP0913.

The artwork guidelines and details on how to order from this listing can be downloaded here: GP0913 How To Order

The Artwork Template for this listing can be downloaded here: GP0913 Artwork Template

If you do not have the software or experience required to use the above templates we can still help! We offer an artwork checking and setup service. Please email with whatever artwork/sketches you have along with the dimensions of your design. We will then be able to set the artwork up for you in an appropriate format. There is a fee for this service which depends solely on how much time it is going to take to convert your artwork to a suitable format.

What are Waterslide Decals?

Waterslide decals are for transferring logos on to painted or lacquered surfaces. They consist of a very thin film on to which the design is printed. After being soaked in water to loosen them from their backing paper the decal film - with the design - can be slid in to position.

The waterslide material we use is exceptionally thin so when the decals are lacquered over - which they must be - the edges vanish and the unprinted areas remain completely clear. As a result it looks like the design is a part of the surface, giving a similar effect to if the design was painted straight on.

Because they are printed it is possible to achieve a very high level of detail, far greater than with painting, airbrushing, or cut vinyl transfers, making them ideal for placing logos on instruments or graphics on items such as cases, helmets, or control panels.

All of our inks are opaque and waterproof so the colour of the design is not affected by the colour of the surface which the decal is applied to.

Waterslide decals are not suitable for use on oiled surfaces.

Top