Crackle lacquer: How-to

      The basics for applying crackled lacquer finishes. March 26, 2000

Q.
I have a cabinet that I'd like to try some crackle lacquer on.

Does anyone have any advice as to technique, pitfalls, etc.?

The cabinet is stained a dark mahogany and has glazing.



If you have spray ability, then you have your best shot at getting the best results. If not, there are many hobbyists who frequent recreational woodworking resources on the Net who can give you great advice on how they finish their projects using crackle lacquer. They may be hobbyists, but they have tried-and-true methods that are quite suitable for them.

If you are capable of using solvent-borne materials, there are a few companies that make some very good products, but these must be applied with a spray gun. You did not say what level of proficiency you have when it comes to finishing.

Jeff Jewitt's latest book, "Great Wood Finishes: A Step-by-Step Guide to Consistent and Beautiful Results" is a great resource and a very good place to start. The photos are excellent, as well as the text. Two thumbs up.



Thanks for answering. We run a commercial cabinet shop with a full-time paint room.

We played around with the lacquer until we came up with something that looked pretty good to us, applied as follows:

We put down one coat of regular lacquer and then the crackle lacquer. We let it dry well, and rubbed it down with Scotch Brite pads until it looked about right. We finished up with an overcoat of flat lacquer.

I wasn't sure about whether to apply the last coat, but everything looked O.K.

Does this sound about right to you? I guess what I live in dread of on things like this is the call in a year that says something's wrong with the finish.



Topcoating your crackle lacquer with a clear coat is a good thing to do. Using a solvent system gives you more control over the crackle process than the commonly used hide-glue procedure.

Using a solvent system for a crackle finish is dependent on operator technique to a very large extent, assuming you have the right materials to work with. The look is totally controlled by how you apply the materials, so there is some learning curve needed, as your people have just experienced. I need to go through that process myself, as I am not yet good at it.



You must always topcoat a solvent crackle system or there will be no durability and the finish would wear very quickly. Plus, that topcoat "locks down" the crackle.
Bob Niemeyer, forum moderator



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