Finishing touch

"Our boat was built in the Far East, and the interior has a beautiful lacquer finish. I have a photograph of a worker brushing on the lacquer, and I can see he is using a 1-inch brush. I’ve tried a thick brush, a thin brush, short strokes and long strokes, and I can’t get a finish that looks like the original. Any suggestions?"-- Duane Ericson, Oceanside,
Author:
Updated:
Original:

"Our boat was built in the Far East, and the interior has a beautiful lacquer finish. I have a photograph of a worker brushing on the lacquer, and I can see he is using a 1-inch brush. I’ve tried a thick brush, a thin brush, short strokes and long strokes, and I can’t get a finish that looks like the original. Any suggestions?"

-- Duane Ericson, Oceanside, California

Don Casey replies: The word “lacquer” is often used to describe any high-gloss finish, particularly one that is applied by spraying. In my experience, a hard-gloss coating on interior wood on a sailboat is usually varnish. I should add that some boats made in the Far East could be exceptions.

If it’s really a lacquer finish, you have a hard task ahead of you. The reason is that lacquers are typically composed of resin—usually they are synthetic in the U.S., but could easily be natural in the Far East—and nitrocellulose that is dissolved in a volatile solvent, such as alcohol. Because most lacquers are extremely fast drying, they are hard to apply with a brush; the lacquer doesn’t stay fluid long enough to flow out.

If your lacquer was applied with a brush, it was probably buffed to the polished finish you have. Lacquering in Asia is often a family craft going back generations, so there’s a good chance that the person applying the lacquer in your photo may have been perfecting his or her technique since childhood.

You can try buffing the lacquer to get the finish you want, or you can replace it with a varnish finish, which has better flow characteristics. Sanding the lacquered surface should eliminate adhesion problems so that you can put varnish on top of the lacquer. To be safe, test first in an inconspicuous spot. Rebecca Wittman’s book Brightwork contains good information about getting a varnish finish that is comparable to lacquer.

Related

IMG_8287GR16Mykonos

Cultural Charters: Mykonos

In last month’s column, I covered the amazing mix of cultures that have called the Dalmatian Coast home over the centuries. Croatia cruising is like a smorgasbord of intertwined centuries, and the islands are a movie set. A little farther south, though, you’ve also got Greece, ...read more

cookinglead

Cruising: No Oven? No Worries

Many cruising boats, especially smaller ones, don’t have a conventional oven. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have all the baked foods you want, from bread to brownies to breakfast rolls to casseroles and even a roast chicken. All it takes is the right bit of gear and a ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Take no chances  This is my stern with the engine running slowly in gear against the lines. We all know that when we’re charging batteries this lets the engine warm up thoroughly. However, I have a ...read more

ZK-Seaboot-900

Gear: Zhik’s Seaboot 900

A Better Sea Boot Following up on its successful ZK Seaboot 800, Zhik’s Seaboot 900 was created in partnership with team AkzoNobel and Dongfeng Race Team, the latter the overall winner of the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. Designed for serious, long-distance offshore racers and ...read more

01-LEAD-FP-Astrea-42-Gilles-martin-rajet---Navigation

Switching to Solar Offshore

No sensible bluewater sailor would consider setting off on a long cruise these days without some means of generating power other than by burning fossil fuels. The good news is that solar energy is becoming less expensive by the day, making it an obvious answer for providing the ...read more

190812-Tiwal-Video-600x

Video: Tiwal Cup 2019

Who says you need a superyacht to have fun? It would be hard to imagine having a better time on the water than these sailors recently did racing aboard a fleet of Tiwal inflatable sloops. ...read more

GEMINI-BATTERY-PASSAGE

Experience: No Batteries, Big Problems

After sailing on Puget Sound and in British Columbia for over 30 years, my wife, Jeri, and I retired to Florida, bought a house on Punta Gorda and worked hard to get it straight. The walls had been painted, furniture bought and assembled, belongings packed, transported and ...read more