Hello again.

That was a short week wasn’t it?! Whatever you’ve been doing I hope you’ve had fun, don’t forget I’m at Axminster’s Nuneaton store on Saturday so do please call in and say hello if you can. Next Wednesday I have a demo in Ely with the Ely Guild, looking forward to that as well, I haven’t been there for a few years now.

Meanwhile, what questions have we been asked this week? Well this is one that is not only quite old, but looking around the web there seems to be several conflicting answers to it, some of which are, frankly, nonsensical.
What, we were asked, is the difference between a lacquer and a varnish (apart from the fact that we don’t sell varnishes!) The two words are used interchangeably these days, but there is a distinction which has to do with how they are made.
Here’s how it was explained to me many years ago by a trained woodfinishing chemist; a varnish begins as a solid which is dissolved in a solvent to make a liquid. Once applied, the solvent evaporates leaving the solid behind as a coating.
A lacquer starts life as a fluid resin, mixed with solvent to make it easier to apply. Once applied, the solvent evaporates and the resin ‘sets’ (for want of a better word) to form a coating.
Lacquers are the more modern of the two and tend to be quicker drying and harder wearing.

And we were asked this week about the solids content of our lacquers. This is what gives them their ‘build’, the higher the solids content the fewer coats are needed to get a good finish.
Our Melamine Lacquer has a solids content of 28% and the Acrylic Lacquer 33%. Higher versions are available commercially, but higher solids can make them harder to apply and get a good finish. We did a lot of testing before settling on these figures!

Finally this week, a question I haven’t been asked before…an emailer wants to make an urn to keep his late wife’s ashes in and asked about how to coat the inside of it to preserve the ashes. The intended timber is dry, would a coat of Melamine Lacquer be sufficient?
It would certainly force any moisture to exit through the outside of the vessel, but I thought it best to take some expert advice on this. I’m grateful to the very friendly and helpful funeral director at Hunnaball of Ipswich for her assistance. It seems that the ashes don’t need a lot of protection as such, but she did make an important point; it might be best to place the ashes into a container (she suggested a cloth bag would be suitable). This is just in case the urn is disturbed and breaks – the results could be very distressing. It’s probably only worth worrying about if the urn is very thin walled, but it’s still worth considering.

That’s your three questions for this week, I’ll be back again next week with more, I hope you have a good week and also to see some of you between now and then.
In the meantime, I’ve just completed something of a major update to our Woodturning Weekender website; if you haven’t checked it recently or don’t get our irregular updates about it by email you might want to have a look at some of the other exciting stuff going on there over the weekend.

All the best