How To Spray Lacquer: Specific Steps Not To Forget

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Have you ever be confronted with problems of lacquer drying on your woodwork with unwanted clots?

Or sometimes the liquid splashes over you and the nearby furniture you never intended to spray?

If yes, then you are lucky because here is the remedy for the problems.

Lacquer might prove to be complicated when being sprayed. In some cases, you may follow all the mixing instructions on the lacquer container and the final product may not come out the way you expected it to be. Combining the mixing skills and the spraying skills which you will learn in a little while, your final product will be awesome, and you will be glad.


Lacquer has been in existence for centuries, and its significance in wood finishing are recognized in our daily activities. What should be noticed with lacquer is that the one that the modern wood finishes use is not the same as the ones utilized by the ancient artisans.

So what is lacquer that is being used in wood finishing for coating? For your information, lacquer has been confused shellac. This confusion comes from the fact that shellac from a material called the lac beetle, but lacquer does not.

Instead, lacquer is derived from a specific tree called the varnish tree in the form of a chemical called resin, which is mixed with the lacquer thinner so as to create the woodworking finish that we call the lacquer finish.

So, if you are a wood finisher or any other Do-It-Yourself artisan, the knowledge of how to spray lacquer is relevant.

Though applying lacquer takes skills, patience, and specialized equipment, but it is one of the best, durable and attractive finishes for any woodwork you can find.

Even as we start off, note that when you learn all the tips needed in spraying lacquer, your woodwork finishing will be either improved or modeled to the best. Enjoy the post!

Spraying time: 30 minutes – 1 hour

Things You Will Need

  • Lacquer
  • Thinner
  • Catalyst
  • Ready wood

Be ready with the above requirements for a smooth, practical work.

Mix Lacquer With A Lot Of Ease

In case you have bought finish in any shop, I am certain you noticed that this liquid comes in many forms and various brands. The one that I want you to consider is the Nitrocellulose lacquer which comes premixed.

In this case, it means that you may not have to thin it before spraying. If you need to add the lacquer thinner:

i. Mix the lacquer with the thinner

lacquer thinner


Note that the lacquer should constitute of three-quarters of the whole volume.

a. Begin with lacquer in a container – three-quarters in proportion

b. Add thinner of unequal proportion, meaning a quarter in proportionc. The ratio of the mixture should be 70/30 and be precise on the measurement to avoid any blunder of having a thick or extra thin mixture

ii. Remember not thin more that 20%. It is better only to mix a smaller proportion because this liquid dries very first and it also vaporizes once you start to use it.

How To Spray Lacquer With A Spraying Gun 

This step needs you to be more cautious than any other process. Though an easy and manageable process, it can blunder other finishing operations if not done with a lot of precision and caution.

These steps will provide a satisfactory and an impressive result for spraying the lacquer.

Let’s go!

Step1: Sanding / Preparation Of The Surface

rockwell orbital sander


Sand all the components using a P120 grit as the starter then finish with P150 grit (Using a palm sander). For a woodworker, these sandpapers are the best for sanding woods before painting. When sanding, take care when you near the dovetail slots so as to avoid complications later while spraying. You can consider masking off the dovetails joints, mostly the slots and keys. Also, include some hand-sanding using P180 grit.

Step 2: Spray The First Coat

nitrocellulose lacquer spray


Applying the first coat is not for finishing, but it will reduce the application time, hence making the finish much easier to rub out. Try to mix the first coat fairly thin, at a 70/30 ratio of thinner to lacquer.

When mixing has been done, spray the wood, let it dry for 20 minutes then do scuff-sanding using P320 grit. Sanding is essential when you are preparing the wood for spraying. With sanding process, you work towards having a smooth wood. That is the reason as to why you should use all the grits named above.

Remember each grit paper is active and significant in its step. When sanding the components, only use the P120 grit paper and the P150 grit paper. Do not confuse the process but only apply the P180 grit paper after you have done first coating or first spraying.

Step3: Spray Other Subsequent Coats

nitrocellulose glossy guitar


Mix another batch of finish at a ratio of 50/50 of the thinner to lacquer. After that, spray three more other coats, but remember to sand between the coats with the P320 grip paper. The top most layer will be best, and you will love your wood at the end of the third spraying.

See a video: Spray Lacqeur On A Chair With HVLP Spray Gun (Via: Redneck Restoration Show)

How To Avoid Some Regular Problems With Lacquer

Sometimes you have planned to do the spraying successfully, then, unfortunately, some runs which you did not expect forms on the wood. Yes, these are the problems that are realized when using the lacquer, and you have to get a better way of dealing with such other problems:

• Do not always forget to use P320 grip paper after every coat, more so between the second and the third layer. In case a run still occurs, try shaving it down with something like a razor after the blade is dry then re-spray again to fix this.

• Make to use an entirely horizontal movement when doing the spraying. Do not use an arcing motion because it will give you a surface that is not uniform.

• While spraying the lacquer, keep the gun spray some inches away from the surfaces based on your manufacturers’ guides, possibly 8 – 15 inches.

• It is advisable to apply the lacquer in a lowly-humid environment. When the environment is above 65% humidity, a case like blushing might occur, making the lacquer to appear hazy when it is dry. So if you are living in highly humid areas, then do the spraying during the morning hours.

• It is significant to keep the spray gun in motion all the time. It is critical to have a constant flow of the lacquer to an even finish. So, the movement should be steady quick but not over-quick.

Pro Tips When Using Lacquer Spray Gun

Use a safety equipment – wear the proper respirator to prevent getting dizzy and sick after the spraying process. Lacquer is volatile so consider the ventilation system of the area. Consider the next tip to understand this.

Prevent fire by all means – lacquer is known for creating flammable fumes. Even a small unseen spark of light from any electrical equipment or a wall fan can ignite an explosion. I am not threatening not to use lacquer in any way, but just be smart about it. Only do the painting in a well-ventilated area, free from fire hazards or any other flammable material.

 Always make sure the nozzle is cleaned – to prevent the spray nozzle being clogged with lacquer, clean it all the time, or blow it out with a lacquer thinner.

Experiment the shower before beginning the spraying – I understand that learning to use a lacquer spray is something that comes with practice. So start with spraying some few scrap materials that you are working with. This experiment will give you an idea of how thin or thick the coats should be, or should you add some thinner.

 Do not forget to clean up your spray gun immediately after you are done with spraying. Flush some water to prevent the lacquer buildup within the gun.


The post has explained much on how to spray lacquer. I am certain that you have benefitted from the tips and instructions. It is now time to try it out, and you will love your finished work. Otherwise, success in your woodwork finishing with lacquer!

Jose A. Brown

Jose A. Brown is a mechanic engineer and an enthusiastic blogger whose mission is to provide the readers with the best tips, guides in the Home Improvement, DIY Project, and Industry.

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