Highland Woodworking Wood News Online, No. 187, April 2021 Welcome to Highland Woodworking - Fine Tools & Education Learn more about Highland Woodworking View our current woodworking classes and seminars Woodworking articles and solutions Subscribe to Wood News
Finishing: Lacquer Lay-Ins for Mars and Dents on Surfaces
By Alan Noel
Professional Wood Finisher

Cross grain scratches, dents, dings, little Johnny's toy saw or a hot greasy pizza in the middle of a dining table are just a few of the challenges that come through the door of my Finishing shop on a regular basis. Then there are the really tough damages which are mars and dents on the surface that don't break through the finish itself.

Back in the early days, when first trying to figure out how to fix this type of damage, I started out by using fine brushes to "lay-in" clear lacquer on the mars and dents in order to level out the surface, however, it took multiple coats to even begin to fill in the damage. Since there was no internet to turn to back then, I called on one of my friends, as I had many times before, to ask for his solution to this dilemma. As always he was happy to help and now I'm sharing his tip with you.

Get a small jar, a baby food jar or similar is good, fill it half-way with clear gloss lacquer and leave the lid on loosely during the day and closed at night. Everyday the lacquer will get thicker and thicker as the thinner evaporates. Once the consistency becomes a little thicker than finger nail polish, close the lid tightly until it's time to do a "lay-in”. The thickened lacquer fills the void and after sitting for a few days of drying time you can add a little more if need be. The lay-in finishes very clear so the original color will still be in tact. If the lay-in lacquer thickens a little too much, just add a touch of lacquer thinner and stir.

As an added bonus to this trick, alcohol, acetone and oil-based dyes can be added to the mix so you can build your own colored lay-in lacquers which can come in handy in many different situations. Since virtually all of the lacquer thinner completely dries out of the lay-in lacquer, the lay-in will dry in a hurry and can be leveled further with 800-1200 Wetordry Sandpaper and wet sanded with water and a good flat block of wood after a couple of hours. No sanding sponges needed here. Clean up with lacquer thinner and as always a little practice on scrap goes a long way.

Click here to visit the Highland Woodworking Finishing Department

Alan can be reached directly via email c/o Alan Noel Furniture Refinishing at alannoel@comcast.net.

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