Isaac

Water based finish breakdown

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A few months ago I remember a chat session where Mark expressed an interest in switching over to water based finishes, I believe for environmental and health reasons. Unfortunately I don't know that discussion specifically occurred, so I can't reference back to what he had to say.  I'm considering making a similar transition. Currently I use primarily General Finishes Arm-R-Seal and Gel Topcoat, and I'm happy with the performance and appearance of these.

Any suggestions on what water-based products I should be looking at or possibly which I should be avoiding, in order to get the water based equivalent to those oil finishes? Are General Finishes water based products top quality products as well, or do I need to to look at other manufacturers?

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I've been using the General Finishes High Performance for quite a while now and been happy with it.

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I don't know where shellac falls but if someone told me tomorrow i couldn't use oil finishes any more shellac would be my go to. I've heard great things about GF Endurovar. I have a can and haven't cracked it open yet so i can't tell you about it from experience.

I guess i don't really understand the reasoning. I feel that even water based polys off gas and have some VOC as well. If you worried about application health vapor cartridges are a must regardless of finish type imo. If your worried about family after they all cure it's my understanding the polyurthanes are all similar levels of non-toxic, could be wrong though.

I think Marc's info on this is from all over the place over the years, Woodtalk, Friday Live, ect.

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Shellac isn't really low VOC, but since the volatile organic is ethanol it is pretty safe.  You can use beeswax and oil blends on objects that don't need to survive heavy wear, like picture frames.  I haven't used much waterbase stuff but from here and elsewhere I'd think General Finishes is going to be the standard bearer. 

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I usually spray a commercial waterbourne finish that is usually only sold to professionals. I have dabbled with Generals waterbourne products and like how they behave. Their dyes and stains worked well for me. Their finishes were better than the ones I was using before I switched to the pro stuff,. 

Any water based finish has a learning curve. Be smart, read all the literature and practice on scrap or small projects before you jump into finishing a big piece.

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27 minutes ago, Chestnut said:

I don't know where shellac falls but if someone told me tomorrow i couldn't use oil finishes any more shellac would be my go to. I've heard great things about GF Endurovar. I have a can and haven't cracked it open yet so i can't tell you about it from experience.

I guess i don't really understand the reasoning. I feel that even water based polys off gas and have some VOC as well. If you worried about application health vapor cartridges are a must regardless of finish type imo. If your worried about family after they all cure it's my understanding the polyurthanes are all similar levels of non-toxic, could be wrong though.

I think Marc's info on this is from all over the place over the years, Woodtalk, Friday Live, ect.

Not trying to convince anyone else, but looking at the spec sheets for General finishes products, their water based products appear to have half, or less, of the VOC content of their oil based products and apparently water based finishes cure much faster, which can obviously be a positive for both productivity and I think for health concerns.  

I do still plan to wear a respirator, but if I can get similar performance from something that is healthier for me, my family and the environment, I'd like to consider it. 

41 minutes ago, TIODS said:

I've been using the General Finishes High Performance for quite a while now and been happy with it.

I've heard this imparts more of a true transparent color vs. a warm color, is that your experience? 

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2 minutes ago, Isaac said:

I've heard this imparts more of a true transparent color vs. a warm color, is that your experience? 

Yep..

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2 minutes ago, Isaac said:

Not trying to convince anyone else, but looking at the spec sheets for General finishes products

Yeah looking at 600 g/l vs 275 g/l. Thing to look at as well is the toxicity of the cemicals, I feel like you have to apply 50% more ware based to get the coverage which is about the same VOC exposure. The BIG thing is that the chemicals in WB aren't as toxic. You don't have the benzenes and toulenes. In  shellac the toxic chemical is Ethyl alcohol and that's a substance most of us know how much we can handle ;)

 

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4 minutes ago, wdwerker said:

I usually spray a commercial waterbourne finish that is usually only sold to professionals. I have dabbled with Generals waterbourne products and like how they behave. Their dyes and stains worked well for me. Their finishes were better than the ones I was using before I switched to the pro stuff,. 

Any water based finish has a learning curve. Be smart, read all the literature and practice on scrap or small projects before you jump into finishing a big piece.

Unfortunately, I'm not set up for spraying and don't have plans for adding that functionality in the near future, so I'll be sticking with brush/wipe on options. Good point about doing some test pieces. My hope is to avoid purchasing cans of multiple products to find one that is satisfactory. 

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1 minute ago, Chestnut said:

Yeah looking at 600 g/l vs 275 g/l. Thing to look at as well is the toxicity of the cemicals, I feel like you have to apply 50% more ware based to get the coverage which is about the same VOC exposure. The BIG thing is that the chemicals in WB aren't as toxic. You don't have the benzenes and toulenes. In  shellac the toxic chemical is Ethyl alcohol and that's a substance most of us know how much we can handle ;)

 

Yeah I have used shellac in the past and enjoyed it, though it isn't really in my regular routine, maybe I need to revisit it. In the past I didn't like the limited shelf life of it once it was mixed, but I'm a lot more active in my woodworking now, so that probably isn't such a concern anymore. 

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6 minutes ago, Isaac said:

Yeah I have used shellac in the past and enjoyed it, though it isn't really in my regular routine, maybe I need to revisit it. In the past I didn't like the limited shelf life of it once it was mixed, but I'm a lot more active in my woodworking now, so that probably isn't such a concern anymore. 

I use the Zinser premixed stuff. I've been told multiple times that the flakes are better but it's so east to just have a can around. I know you said you were planing on spraying but it seems like a lot of the WB and shellac finishes apply better via spray.

I'd hold out and see what Marc has to say about some of the new enviro poly's he's been using or possible ask him. He's covered a couple in Friday lives i think?

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1 minute ago, Chestnut said:

I use the Zinser premixed stuff. I've been told multiple times that the flakes are better but it's so east to just have a can around. I know you said you were planing on spraying but it seems like a lot of the WB and shellac finishes apply better via spray.

I'd hold out and see what Marc has to say about some of the new enviro poly's he's been using or possible ask him. He's covered a couple in Friday lives i think?

Yeah I've used Zinser as well and it is convenient. I try catch the Friday live sessions, but I'm not a die-hard. I do think that is where I caught him speaking about it before, I just didn't take proper notes!

I just don't have the space or equipment to spray. I have a tiny pancake compressor I use mostly just to blow dust off of things, to spray I'd need something significantly larger, and then I'd need some sort of spray booth location, as well as a spray gun. Overall, I think it would just take up too much of my limited shop space. I don't want to get into a situation where every time I want to do something I have to move ten things around. I've done a lot to improve my organization lately, but that can only go so far. 

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I think water based products work best when sprayed.   I don't know for certain as I've not sprayed them, but I tried the water based stains and poly from general finish and they're extremely difficult to brush because they dry so quickly.

One other thing, and I don't know how you can prevent this but... the cans rust.   If you open up a can of water borne poly then close it up, when you open it again in a month there will be rust along the inside lip of the can.   I don't know how to prevent this.   The can is "coated", but for whatever reason that doesn't seem to work?

I actually just tried Arm-R-Seal for the first time, and am amazed at how little smell it has.   The low-odor mineral spirits I used to wipe the piece has more smell than the finish.

 

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29 minutes ago, Isaac said:

I just don't have the space or equipment to spray.

Yeah I hear ya on this. If it helps for spraying thin shellacs and WBs you could get away with a small turbine HVLP unit that is probably cheaper than a compressor conversion gun.

I realize in IL you can't spray outside 100% of the time but for the (9 months maybe?) you could spray outside. For the too cold months you could use brush application. Give the brushing a shot and see how it goes. Rockler sells an inexpensive HVLP turbine that would be cheaper and probably better than a compressor and a conversion gun. As far as spray booths go something like this tent from amazon looks perfect for most furniture or small projects. I need to put my money where my mouth is and try that tent. I have an HVLP and don't use it as much as i'd like.

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17 minutes ago, Chestnut said:

Yeah I hear ya on this. If it helps for spraying thin shellacs and WBs you could get away with a small HVLP unit that is probably cheaper than a compressor conversion gun.

I realize in IL you can't spray outside 100% of the time but for the (9 months maybe?) you could spray outside. For the too cold months you could use brush application. Give the brushing a shot and see how it goes. Rockler sells an inexpensive HVLP turbine that would be cheaper and probably better than a compressor and a conversion gun. As far as spray booths go something like this tent from amazon looks perfect for most furniture or small projects. I need to put my money where my mouth is and try that tent. I have an HVLP and don't use it as much as i'd like.

I guess I need to keep an open mind, but I think I've already snuck enough boxes with recent tool purchases into the basement past my wife this month...... I better hold off for now :ph34r:

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For interior projects I prefer shellac. I mix the flakes with medicinal ethanol (I think it's 96%+ pure) because it smells a lot better than denatured alcohol. I do not spray it.

Sometimes I use a local brand of water based lacquer, which comes in a variety of tones as well as transparent (looks blueish in the bottle). It won't look good unless it's sprayed.

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I'm a fan of Enduro var. It gives similar color to an oil based finish, although the grain doesn't have quite the same depth of there's figure (but it's close). It does work better sprayed, but I've brushed and wiped it on too. It's very thin, so it's more prone to getting drips if you go too heavy with your coats. The best part is you can do a coat every couple of hours and it's fully cured in a couple of days. The down side is it raises the grain, so I find you end up sanding between a couple of coats.

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I broke out the HVLP this weekend to spray some small object that were a little more complex then i wanted to tackle with a brush or wiping. I found that i REALLY like spraying WB poly. I was spraying some cheap Varathane poly but it turned out very nice. I did the spraying in my basement with just some card board for protection and the mess is a LOT less than i was expecting. I don't know if there would be any complications but i'm considering doing a coat of oil then a coat of dewaxed shellac and then WB for top coats to get the color i want but still be able to spray for protection.

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You can flush and clean your spray gun, air cap etc with warm water but a short spray of denatured alcohol is often recommended after you reassemble your gun.  Less than an inch of alcohol in the cup, close, shake and spray for a second or 2.  This helps prevent rust or corrosion.  

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3 hours ago, Chestnut said:

I broke out the HVLP this weekend to spray some small object that were a little more complex then i wanted to tackle with a brush or wiping. I found that i REALLY like spraying WB poly. I was spraying some cheap Varathane poly but it turned out very nice. I did the spraying in my basement with just some card board for protection and the mess is a LOT less than i was expecting. I don't know if there would be any complications but i'm considering doing a coat of oil then a coat of dewaxed shellac and then WB for top coats to get the color i want but still be able to spray for protection.

which HVLP system do you have? from this conversation I'm reconsidering my assumptions and thinking of adding one to the future shopping list.

Wondering if this one from Rockler will get me off the ground or do I really need a $500+ Fuji setup.

http://www.rockler.com/rockler-hvlp-finishing-sprayer

 

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46 minutes ago, AceHoleInOne said:

Reconsider spraying an oil in your basement. Man, oil overspray is nasty sticky mess. Stay with the water-based. ;)

 

-Ace-

Totally agree. I don't even think i'd consider spraying oilbased or lacquer period. Oil would be a nasty mess and lacquer seems like even if done outside it'd turn the nearby area in to a toxic cloud.

53 minutes ago, Isaac said:

which HVLP system do you have? from this conversation I'm reconsidering my assumptions and thinking of adding one to the future shopping list.

Wondering if this one from Rockler will get me off the ground or do I really need a $500+ Fuji setup.

http://www.rockler.com/rockler-hvlp-finishing-sprayer

 

I really wish i could try one of these and not have to fork out the cash to do so. If i bought one to review it and return it that would be completely dishonest.

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