Heating Finishes

A north-country finisher with an unheated shop gets ideas for heating his finishes in the can, or in the line. February 28, 2006

I need to heat my finish for the winter but I cannot find anyplace to buy or even look into buying a heater for my lacquer. Can anyone help me out?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor M:
I used to put my finishes in a plywood box about 4 ft. square. I had a light bulb hanging from the top of the box to heat it up. It doesn't seem like a lot of heat, but it does the job fine. The only thing I worry about is checking once in a while to make sure that the bulb hasn't burned out. I now have a shop with a furnace and prefer that by far.

From contributor G:
If you check at the Wine and Beermaking supply place, you can get a heat belt for about $25. If you can find an old waterbed heater, they will work, too. As far as warming the lacquer, for heating your shop - isn't the flame of a pellet stove completely enclosed? How about a ceramic heater or an oil heater?

From the original questioner:
I am really looking for a heater that heats the actual fluid. Shop heat is a whole other issue. I worked at a job years ago that had a warmer right on the line about 6 inches below the gun, and the fluid would flow through it, warm up and then go through the gun. I am now also bringing in pails of lacquer the night before Im going to spray.

From contributor T:
We are running a Grayco HVLP system with a fluid heater. We have been using this system for over 6 years and I am real pleased with the results I get. Depending on the conditions, we will heat the lacquer up to 120 to 135 degrees. Heating the lacquer will not make it dry faster. What is does is makes it easier for the air to break it up so you get a smoother finish. I pull my finish straight from a 5 gallon pail; I do not cut it with lacquer thinner. If I feel the lacquer needs to be thinner, I just raise the temperature a few degrees. When you thin with thinner, you lower the percent of solids. The solids are what help you get a smooth deep looking finish.

From contributor D:
You can find the heating belt you are looking for at Grainger. They are not terribly expensive and they wrap around the pail and have a dial regulator on them so you can control the amount you want to heat it up. It runs on 110 standard current and is quite effective. I use it all winter and have had no trouble with it after 5 years of use. I check the temperature of the lacquer with a meat thermometer and regulate accordingly.

From contributor R:
Kremlin also makes an inline heater which is, of course, expensive. The inline will do a far better job as wrapping a belt around a 5 gallon pail will not heat the interior evenly nor will it give you the option of adjusting the temperature to suit the viscosity.