Woodfinishers Weblog

Wood finishing forum for professional finishers

Full Grain Fill Finish produced with Pinnacle Polyester and Pinnacle Polyurethane

The subject of how to get that full grain filled high gloss / high polished look without over building a lacquer to the point that it cracks has come up from time to time. I recently had a customer who builds and finishes custom walnut tables to a mirror finish that are gorgeous beyond belief have a serious fracturing issue. He had been building up pre-catalyzed lacquer beyond what the manufacture recommended. While this had worked well in the short term, cracks and fracturing of the finish began showing up after a few months.

The best solution I have found for this problem is the use of polyester sanding sealer. This is a great system however it is not something that should be attempted by someone new to the business of furniture finishing as there are three components to mix and if not done right will never dry. Eight to twelve mils of this material may be applied in one application to fill wood grain and or pores and it won’t crack and fracture like lacquers and conversion varnishes do. This is the finish used on pianos.  Once you have applied enough polyester sanding sealer to fill the wood grain and pores you can then block sand it smooth and flat. You can then go straight to final sanding and polish if you wish. This would provide the hardest most durable finish. However, polyester does turn yellow over time. An alternative is to top coat the polyester with non yellowing lacquer or high grade two part polyurethane like the Pinnacle brand we have sold for years now. This polyurethane has UV inhibitors added to it to slow the effects of yellowing that are typical of polyurethanes.

Thomas Craven has been a finisher in the valley for many years and has consistently produced excellent products. He and his team have mastered the Polyester/ Polyurethane finish as you can see in this video.  You can reach Thomas Craven through his web site at:  http://www.TCWoodFinishers.com

If you are interested in purchasing these products you can contact me through the Annex Paint Store web site at: http://www.annexpaint.com

Greg Saunders
Annex Paint

December 7, 2012 Posted by | polyurethane, speciality finishes, Tips and Tricks, Wood finishing | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

CIC lacquer seminar Jan 11th in Baldwin Park California

A demonstration and seminar of new CIC coating products

A demonstration and seminar of new CIC coating products

December 6, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CIC Coatings Water based Conversion Varnish test

I apologize for having been remiss in my blogging duties it has been a busy year. I have a new camera and as well some new things to share.

I went back to a job that a customer did a year ago to see how the CIC acrylic coatings were holding up. In general the CIC 3022 Acrylic lacquer was doing great, on verticals and in bookshelves it looked great. however on counter tops after a year of being in side of a well attended church there were some signs of wear. Jody Toole of Jody Tool’s finishing started to do some tests to see what he could apply that would be harder yet easy to apply and yet not change the color or appearance.

the following video is the test that he did. for reference in the test he used the CIC acrylic lacquer, a 550 VOC pre-cat from mohawk and the CIC coatings water based clear Conversion Varnish. all of the panels were sealed with a vinyl sealer first. He them wiped them down with an lacquer thinner on a rag to see how fast the coating would degrade.

Additional note: although it is not shown here Jody did a separate test where he applied the water based conversion varnish directly over the acrylic lacquer and it looked great and stuck well.

If you are interested in knowing more about these products give me a call.

Greg Saunders
Annex Paint

December 6, 2012 Posted by | Acrylic Lacquer, CIC Centurion, water based Conversion Varnish, Conversion varnish, Finishing failures and the fix, speciality finishes, Water based Lacquers, Wood finishing | Leave a comment

Water based grain Filler from CIC demo

For years I have been asking for a clear grain filler and for the years I have been looking the only true Clear grain filler I found was an Ultra Violet cured product, while a great product it was out of realm of the regular cabinet guy. Then CIC came up with this product that is all the things I was looking for. It is water based and dries quickly, ( all water based products are temperature and humidity sensitive) This is a product that I have wanted to get a demo video up on for some time.
My wife wanted a simple black box that she was going to put in a closet, it wasn’t going to be seen that much and so didn’t have to be fancy, I had some salvaged oak ply in the shed and so decided to make it out of that. then I had the idea to use the water based grain filler on it to spruce it up and have something for the blog, Long story short I spent way more time doing the finishing on something that is going into the Closet than I should have. that being said I home video is of some value to any one interested in the product.

About the Product:
It is water based and comes in a can it is thick and has the consistency of seriously thick ketchup or bril-cream hair gel (that dates me). You apply it with a spreader or wide putty knife. you don’t want a build you want to spread it around and fill grain any extra you have on the surface, you’ll have to sand off and it gets hard. Lay it on, let it dry and sand all the excess off. This is not a top coat it is not a coating it is a filler so you have to sand down to the wood, depending on the dept of the grain yo may have to do the process again and sand again. once you have filled the grain you can apply your sealer and top coat. SO far I have only used this with water based top coats I have not tried it under a solvent lacquer. should work fine I just haven’t tried that one. the one thing that I would say about that would be that you would want to be very dry first other wise any water/moisture off gassing is going to blush your clear coat.

The other question is at what point do you stain, That the tricky part IF you stain first and you are then sanding down to the wood you are inevitably going to be sanding into your stain. IF you sand afterword you stain in not going to penetrate well. The Trick is when you have filled the grain then sand down deep enough so that you are sanding wood. In other words, if the wood was the land and mountains and the valleys and gorges were the depth of the grain then you would want to sand down to the point that you were cutting the tops of the mountains off. And then apply your stain. If you haven’t sanded that down evenly then your stain coating is going to be uneven.

following this I’ll have a few other video demos of spraying the Black CIC water based Conversion coating on where you see the difference that the grain fill makes.

Ok and here is the video of the application:

August 4, 2012 Posted by | CIC Centurion, water based Conversion Varnish, Conversion varnish, Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized, Water based Lacquers, Wood finishing | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Heating your Lacquer for phenominal results (kremlin in-line lacquer heater)

I thought I had said more on this subject of heating your coatings for better results and perhaps I have, but now time has gone by and the data has been buried somewhere over the years in some article somewhere in my Blog making it not all that useful.

Let me get to the point; when you raise th temperature of your coating, be it water based or solvent you are reducing the viscosity or thickness of the materials. With in a certain range of temperature for every 10 degrees warmer you make your lacquer (be it water based solvent or urethane)  you will make your product 10% thinner. The great aspect about that is that you are not reducing the volume of solids. 

If you thin a coating  50% you’ll have to put on twice the number of coats to achieve the same build. Here in America the labor is your most expensive commodity.  Now if you can raise the temperature of the materials 50 degrees you achieve that same amount if thinning but you would do it with out adding the solvents that will evaporate out and leaving your coating behind.

But that’s not all! In addition to the above the coatings you lay out will flow out better and dry faster. And you can do it with out the expence of Lacquer thinners which are getting expensive.

There are several things you can do to use this data, the easiest is to take your pails off the concrete floor and put them up on wood blocks if nothing else. I have had contractors wrap a heating blankets around their pails and warm their lacquer up that way.  I have even seen finishers put water based lacquers in the Micro wave and warm it up.

Intelligence needs to be used, especially when dealing with flammable materials. Making your materials warmer is the key but I wouldn’t go past the point of heating materials beyond warm to the touch. you can stick your finger in and its warm to the touch Body temperature is 98 degrees so I would say no more than about 104 degrees.  Obviously if your boil your materials you are going to be changing chemical properties. Again, some intelligence please.

With duel component materials you are going to be shortening the pot life. Gradients and testing are key here. I’m a big fan of pushing something to see where their fail point is but not on a customers cabinets, when you are at that point you should have all your procedures all figured out.

Ok, the basics covered,  here are two Video demo’s of Jody Toole using the Kremlin Air-assisted airless spray rig with the new Excite spray gun and the Kremlin materials heater. Jody is a professional finisher in the Southern California area, if you are interested in contacting him you can reach him through his blog at: http://jodytoole.wordpress.com/

In the first clip he is using the rig and in the second he is telling some of the benefits of the whole system. 

And here is the second video Jody describing some of the attributes of the Rig and his review :

For note: the Lacquer that we are applying here is the CIC Coatings Acrylic lacquer I have said so much about int he past.

 Annex Paint sells the Kremlin air assisted airless and all of  its sundries including the heater. If you are in the southern california area and would like a Demo please feel free to contact me.

Greg Saunders
Annex Paint

February 17, 2012 Posted by | Acrylic Lacquer, Spray techniques, Tips and Tricks, Water based Lacquers, Wood finishing | , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

How to finish a wooden sink bowl

This is an interesting one that I thought I would share. A furniture designer from Lithuania wrote to me  asking for help with a wooden sink bowl. I have no pictures to share on this one but after I composed the reply I thought there were a few things in the reply that wood finishers would appreciate.

I have changed the original message from the designed only slightly to protect his identity.


My name is Tomas, I am an independent furniture designer. 
Currently I have an order to produce a wooden bathroom sink and it seems that you have some products that could assist me in doing this.
Could you recommend a varnish for such a job (the only requirement is that the varnish needs to be glossy)? From what I understand, the varnish, that would be suitable for a wooden sink, must be hot water-resistant, it also needs to seal the pores of wood well. 
If you have a suitable project, how much water does it let through? Are there any special varnishing techniques? 
Do you have a sales representative in Lithuania? 

Thank you in advance!

Hi Tomas,

Thanks for your inquire; There are two routes to go with a project like this. the first is to use a “food-grade” oil for the proposed sink and instruct the customer that they will have to oil it regularly. This is the sort of coating you have on wooden salid  bowls.
For something like that you would have to design it in such a way that it was completely sealed on the bottom and in the drain hole as anywhere you have a penetration or where water is going to collect it is eventually going to make its way into the wood and begin to rot the wood. As a note, I would design the bowl in such away so as to be sure that it doesn’t ever sit in water. For example have it on a metal or plastic pedestal so that any water on the sink counter drains off of it. Standing water will be the enemy you’ll have to overcome.
The next problem that you’ll have to overcome is getting a coating that is hard enough to withstand the abuse that a sink will get and yet soft enough to expand and contract with temperature changes.
For note: I would never warrantee something like that as the moment someone drops something sharp in the bowl and penetrates the coating you are going to have a place where water is going to eventually seep in and then lift you coating.

The next thing to consider is the wood you are going to use. Ideally I would use the hardest wood you can find; epay or iron wood.

All of the above being said I would then suggest the CIC two component water based urethane.  Or the Permashield 200 from monopole both of these products are good the Permashield 200 is a product that is approved for food servicing areas by the US department of Agriculture (USDA). Both of these you can find on my web site at : www.annexpaint.com

In terms of special application procedures for this application. I would do several things; once the bowl was ready for finishing I would wet it with warm water just making it slightly damp. As you are using a water based product this will not react badly with the coating and in fact what it will do is lower the surface tension of the wood which will allow the coating to soak into all the grain pores. Next I would put down several light coats of the polyurethane that are thinned down as much as recommended and as well heated to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This will further reduce the viscosity and allow it to soak in as much as possible. Repeat the coating  with a light but thorough sanding in-between coats as many time necessary to achieve the build you want but with a minimum of  4 of 5 coats. Only the first or second coat need the additional reduction, the purpose of this is to achieve maximum penetration into the wood. Lastly I would let it cure for three weeks to ensure that it has reached its maximum hardness before giving it to the customer.

I’m sorry I don’t have a rep in Lithuania but if you would like to fly me over I would love to come. I haven’t shipped material overseas as it is rather coast prohibitive for customers.

The two companies who might have a suitable product are Renner and Icsam  they are both Italian and have very good materials.


  Greg Saunders

 Cell:      818-439-9297
Office:  818-344-3000
Fax:      818-344-3994



I wonder if my boss would fly me to Lithuania?? 


January 11, 2012 Posted by | polyurethane, Spray techniques, Tips and Tricks, Water based Lacquers, Wood finishing | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CI Centurion Acrylic lacquer in action

I have been reporting on the acrylic lacquer for the last few years yet few of the die-hard finishers have taken up the new technology, for better or worse in our industry getting up and running with a new product, water-based materials or other wise is a trying activity experimenting with you customers kitchens is a risky business and with economic conditions as they are these aren’t the times to venture away from the norm, or are they?

Having a technologically superior product that is easy to apply could be the thing that would put you ahead of the crowd could be the ticket to your survival in this cut throat market.

The Church of Scientology has been on a project to up grade and renovate their various facilities around the country. After extensive testing they decided on using the Centurion acrylic Lacquer from CIC  Coatings they needed something that was commercial grade tough and as well crystal clear which wouldn’t yellow. As well they wanted a product that was as environmentally friendly. The CIC Acrylic lacquer met all these qualities It doesn’t yellow as it is not nitro-cellulous, it’s as hard as a pre-Catalysed lacquer yet it has the moisture resistance of a urethane, it is low VOC and has a relatively low odor.

The Finishing contractor, Jody Toole, of Jody tools Finishing (http://www.jodytoole.com/) has been applying the product with an Kremlin Air assisted Airless spray rig has been over joyed at the results he has been getting.

the following are a few pictures of  one of the recent  Church of Scientology churches which have been renovated using the CIC Acrylic lacquer.

Non yellowing CIC acrylic lacquer

CIC Lacquer on all the furniture

November 8, 2011 Posted by | Acrylic Lacquer, Uncategorized, Wood finishing | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CIC “TL” acrylic lacquer passes the water boarding test,

I have a customer who loves the CIC TL acrylic lacquer, while I was in his shop the other day he showed me the results of a scientific study he was performing with the product, I was so impressed I videoed the test.

The Finisher is Jody Toole and he operates in the LA area doing custom wood finishing if you are interested in contacting him here is a link to his blog: http://jodytoole.wordpress.com/

The Centurion Acrylic lacquer is a low VOC acrylic lacquer. Acrylics are different than nitrocellulose lacquers, a little more expensive but far superior, they are harder and don’t yellow, as well it is self sealing and they don’t smell as bad when you are spraying them out. This particular product is and advanced Hybrid of what was referred to as a “Cab Acrylic”, the old cab acrylic were very clear didn’t yellow but were relatively soft. the TL series is very hard.

As you’ll see in the short video Jody had his Starbucks cold drink plastic cups on a walnut panel he has finished 6 months ago. He has placed his cups on the panel every day for the last 6 months, as you can see there is not water damage, I love it when I get impressed with my own products. If you are interested in purchasing this product please feel free to contact me Greg Saunders Annex paint at: greg@annexpaint.com


thanks if you have any questions please feel free to contact me

Annex Paint

September 28, 2011 Posted by | Acrylic Lacquer, Tips and Tricks, Wood finishing | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spray Gun Tip Sizes

The following is the complete article on the subject of spray tip sizes as written by Phil Stevens, I  have received  their permission to reprint this article , Phil is a founding member of AWFI, American Wood Finishing institute, and has trained thousands of people on the Correct technology of finishing, including myself. I took a Finishing course put on by  AWFI out here in southern california and came away from the training very skilled.  If you ever have the opportunity to do their training program it is well worth the investment. This article was taken from Phil’s Blog from the Finishing IQ.com site  http://www.finishingiq.com 

Having toiled over correct tip sizing with different manufactures I stumbled across this article while getting a Kremlin set up for a customer the article answered my questions clearly and concisely so rather than spending the time to re write Phil’s article  I decided to plagiarise it completely  (with permission ) and give the credit where credit was due.

Choosing the correct tip and gun set-up for your spray equipment can be very confusing. The overwhelming number of tip sizes, set-up options and differing nomenclature between the equipment manufacturers often leads to finishing problems as a result of using the wrong size of tip.
U.S. manufacturers often use thousandths of an inch to designate the size of the tip. However, many U.S. manufacturers also use millimeters to classify tip size on some of their equipment. This is especially true when specifying HVLP spray gun set-ups. Other non-U.S. manufacturers use millimeters and other types of nomenclature that does not refer to either millimeters or thousandths of an inch. Here are some of the common nomenclature definitions used for some of the spray equipment manufacturers that are used in the wood finishing industry.

Graco air assisted airless tip sizes: A “512” tip is read as if the first number (5) is doubled to equal 10, which designates the spray pattern width of a minimum of 10 in. wide at a distance of 12 in. from the end of the tip. The second and third number – or in this example, the 12 – represent the tip opening size as 0.012/in. Therefore, if your tip is a “614” number, it would be a 12-in. fan pattern and a 0.014 tip opening.

Graco HVLP and conventional guns are designated as either millimeter or thousandths of an inch or both on the gun set-up size.

Kremlin air assisted airless tip sizes: A “09 -114” – the first number of “09” designates the orifice opening size of the tip, however, the “09” does not refer to either thousandths of an inch or millimeters. It is a numbering system that Kremlin uses to define the orifice size opening. A “06” number is a smaller orifice opening than as “09”. A “12” tip would be larger than a “09”. A “06” equals approximately 0.011/inch. A “09” equals approximately 0.013/inch. A “12” tip equals approximately 0.015/inch. The second set of numbers after the dash refers to the fan pattern width in degrees of arc. A “114” equals 114 degrees of arc in the width of the fan pattern. Therefore, a “94” will be narrower than a “114”. A “134” will be significantly wider than a “114”.

Kremlin HVLP spray gun nomenclature normally uses millimeters to designate tip sizes. Therefore, a 1.0mm tip will be smaller than a 1.5mm.

Binks air assisted airless tip sizes: For a “114 – 01310”, the “114” designates a standard flat tip. The first three numbers after the dash (“013”) equals thousandths of an inch or 0.013/in. in this example. The last two numbers, or the number “10” in this example, designates a fan pattern width of 10 in. at a distance of 12 in. from the end of the tip. If the tip starts with a “9 – 1311F”, the “9” and the “F” designate that it is a fine finishing tip with a pre-orifice. The tip would have a 0.013/in. orifice opening and an 11 in. fan pattern at a distance of 10 in. from the tip.

Binks HVLP spray gun nomenclature uses gun set-up numbers that must be referenced from their literature to determine their size. Most often they will be referenced with both millimeter and thousandths of an inch.
DeVilbiss standard spray guns, HVLP guns and trans-tech guns use millimeters to define the size of the tip and gun set-up.

What size tip is right for your application process?
Tip sizes will vary greatly, depending on the types of material sprayed, the viscosity of the coating, how much material needs to be applied (flow rate), whether it is pressure-fed, siphon-fed or gravity-fed and whether the application is manual vs. automatic spray.

For very low viscosity spray-to-color stains using HVLP gravity-fed spray guns, a 1.2mm to 1.4mm tip will work well. For pressure-fed HVLP guns spraying spray-to-color stains, a 1.0mm to 1.2mm set-up will normally be the range used for tip size. If you are spraying the same material with automated spray HVLP, a 0.08mm to 1.0mm tip size is recommended.

For spraying spray-to-color materials that are slightly higher in viscosity, such as a shader, an HVLP gun normally will work well if the tip size is increased by 0.2mm to 0.4mm for all of the above technologies.
Wiping stains spray best with air assisted airless technology. We recommend using a 0.06 to0 .094 tip size for Kremlin equipment; for all other manufacturers, a 0.28mm or a 0.009 tip orifice size will be adequate. An 8-in. fan pattern width is an average size for applying wiping stains. Larger or smaller pieces require a larger or narrower fan pattern width.

For solids, sealers and clear coats, an air assisted airless gun is recommended. Tip orifice opening size should equal around 0.013/inch. For Kremlin, this would equal a “09” tip. Pattern width of the tip generally ranges from 6 to 12 in. depending on the width of the parts. A wide fan pattern will often provide a more uniform coat with less runs and sags; however, a narrow tip will ensure higher transfer efficiency on narrower parts. Therefore, an average tip size for Kremlin would be a “09 – 114”; for Graco, a “513”; for Binks, a “114 – 01310”.

For heavy bodied primers and glazes, a 0.015 tip or larger on an air assisted airless gun will generally provide a flow rate necessary for these materials. For Kremlin, this would equal a “12 – 114”; for Graco, a “515”; and for Binks, a “114 – 01510”.

For water-based coatings, use the tip and gun set-up recommended by the equipment manufacturer that is specifically designed for water-based materials. These guns and tips are specifically designed to spray water-based coatings without causing shear on the material. We would recommend that you start with the same tip sizes for solvent-based coating. If you are experience problems with micro-foam or bubbles in the finish, you may need to try a larger or smaller tip on a trial and error basis to insure the best result is achieved with the type of water-based coatings you are using. Not all water-based materials are created equal; therefore, an exact recommendation for these materials cannot be offered.

When choosing the correct tip sizes, always take into consideration the following:
Does the stain have a heavy load of pigment? If so, a larger tip may be required.
Is the stain made with only dye colorants? If so, a smaller tip may be best for this type of stain application.
The solvent package of the coating: what is the solvent blend composition and does the material have a fast or slow flash-off rate? This will influence the tip size and gun set-up.
Viscosity of the coating: a larger or smaller tip may be necessary to most efficiently apply the coating depending on the density of the material.
The speed of spray application: Always try to select the tip that delivers the correct amount of material for the speed of application while maintaining the desired finish quality.
If you choose the correct tip size for the job, your finish will look better, you will reduce rework, will experience of spray operator comfort, and will increase the efficiency of the coating application.

June 16, 2011 Posted by | Spray techniques, Tips and Tricks, Wood finishing | 1 Comment

Golden cabinet doors; unique finishing technique by Thomas Craven

I’m going to have to make a new category for this one as it is not something I have covered before, but the process was so unique and produced such a cool effect I decided that I had to record it.

Using gold leaf or gold power in paint and clear coats has been around for some time but what Thomas Craven has done is used the gold powder in a Pinnacle polyester resin stippled on with a natural sponge and then clear coated with  the clear polyester. The effect is a multi layered effect that gives the finish a depth that is very attractive. See for your self .

featured in the video is Thomas Craven Master and owner of Thomas Craven studios in Van Nuys California you can see more of his work at his  web site at: http://www.tcwoodfinishers.com/ or contact him at: ThomasCraven@msn.com

If you are interested in the materials used you can contact me Greg Saunders at: greg@annexpaint.com

April 26, 2011 Posted by | polyurethane, speciality finishes, Tips and Tricks, Wood finishing | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment