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8/2/2012 8:09:47 AM | by Anonymous


Often used to refer to the clear or coloured wood finish that is used to furnish wood works to give them a more polished look whilst serving as a form of protection, lacquer is a type wood finish that typically denotes a paint that dries up as the solvent evaporates leaving a hard, durable and shiny look on the piece of wood. Lacquer can provide a wood piece with a look like matte, glossy or resinous, which is usually hard and smooth. Usually seen on wood pieces such as furniture, guitars or wooden sculptures, the coating serves as a form of protection against unwanted weather, moisture, oils, bacteria or fungus that can form on the wood when wet or other circumstances. The clear type lacquers would provide a slightly yellow look to the material that they are applied on, whereas the coloured once would give the desired hue. Lacquer coating is different from varnish coating due to the chemical construction, colour and durability of it.


The history of lacquer can be traced back to ancient India and gets its name from the Sanskrit work ‘laksha’ which was used in reference to the Lac insect. The scarlet resinous secretion that Lac insect produces was used for coating woods in ancient India. Traces of lacquers being used in ancient China during the Song Dynasty have also been found. Urushiol was dissolved in a water solvent to serve as a coating. Lacquers developed in the past had very slow drying processes as the oxidization process took a very long time. The industrial age that boomed in ancient Europe caused the use of lacquer to spread to the world. Today, lac-based finished are called shellac whereas lacquer refers to polymers that are dissolved in volatile organic compounds. Both of them are traditional finished with lacquer having a longer durability as compared to shellac. Using lacquer to finish pieces of wood can even be considered an art form today as there are a variety of techniques to coat wood with lacquer to make it look more presentable and appealing.


Lacquer can either be natural or synthetic. The natural form is manufactured by taking gum from the lacquer gum tree and processing it until it is useable. On the other hand, the synthetic lacquer is made with a combination of various chemicals along with nitrocellulose so that the lacquer can support different tasks. Pigments can also be added to provide the user with a desired hue. Plasticizers can be added as well to these synthetic lacquers to make them resemble the natural type. The fact that synthetic lacquers can be produced in such a way that they can serve certain functions makes them more popular as compared to natural lacquers. Manufacturers can mass produce these lacquers to keep with the public demand for them.


There are two methods to apply lacquer over a wood piece easily. The first is applying the lacquer over the wood piece using a brush. Care must be taken when carrying out this procedure so as to not damage the wood piece or any area around the item being lacquered. Also, to ensure that the lacquer spreads evenly in a consistent patter, the brush should be brushed over the wood piece in the same direction with the same pressure, unless a specific design is desired. For brushes, only natural bristles should be used. Aside from brushing, lacquer can also be sprayed over the wood piece. For this method, care should be taken to spray the areas evenly and not to waste too much lacquer.


Using lacquer to coat wood pieces can be an ideal method to protect them against different harmful agents such as water and oil. This method also gives the wood a very presentable look with options to customize it in anyway a person wants.

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