Using A Shading Concentrate
January 3, 2012 | 11:30 am CST
Not All Lacquer Thinners are Created Equal

Using A Shading ConcentrateI learn something new every day, and I am always thankful for what my customers teach me. Yesterday, it was my new partner at work, Drew, who shed some light on a great mystery.

I have been hearing for years about people putting wiping stain into their clear finish to shade it or color it. Around M.L. Campbell products, that’s a big no, no! The chemistry of our wiping stain bases is not compatible with that of lacquer. Something bad is bound to happen down the road. So I preach a well rehearsed sermon several times a week to those that suggest it. For the record, I was thinking about.

On Drew’s first day of working with me, among the many things we discussed was that the coatings line he previously represented had a stain that would allow adding a wiping stain to clear finish. I intend to find out more about this but until I get the full story, I’m going to take the conservative approach and steer clear of that practice.

I’m not usually known to say no without providing alternatives. I want you to know that there are ways to safely color your lacquer if you find that a wipe stain alone does not give you the intensity of color that you want. I recently discussed one of my favorite “secret sauces,” M. L. Campbell’s Amazing Stain (VB5), a spray stain base. I really like that for shading. We discussed using that base together with dyes and/or pigments to apply color.

But the classic formula for a shader, requires knowing the “recipe” for the particular wipe stain that you are using. If you know what colorants and dyes are in the wiping stain and their proportion to each other, then you can take that information and turn it into what we call a shading concentrate. A shading concentrate is 50% color and 50% lacquer thinner. That, in turn, is added to a solution of 16 oz of lacquer thinner and 16 oz of your lacquer or sealer de jour. Put a tablespoon or two of concentrate in that solution.

Now you have a perfect proportional match of the colors you used in the wipe stain. Also, it is in a very low viscosity form containing your lacquer. With that, you can layer more color on top of what the stain provided and intensify the color of the stain. The lacquer will help to bind that color to whatever is underneath. I would recommend a sealer coat that has been scuffed smooth with 320 grit sandpaper between the wiping stain and the shader.

Turn your fluid control down on the gun and “fog” that solution on as needed to darken and/or even out your color. Also, turn your atomization pressure down. This is a very low viscosity fluid. It doesn’t need a lot of air action to apply it.

Obviously, this is not a project that will work with pump application because you need a great deal of control to apply this evenly. Your pump will treat that shading solution as a fire pump treats water! An HVLP, compliant gun or a conventional spray gun of some sort is in order here. Also, if you have a smaller needle/nozzle set for that gun, that will give you added control and allow the color to be laid down evenly.

Control in the application of a shader is of paramount importance. My “Bernie-ism” for this is as follows: You want to sneak up on the intensity that you want without blowing past the intensity that you need.

Got it???

Until next time…spray on!


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