View Full Version : Those Cabinets again

02-09-2005, 10:41 AM
How do you tell if its a laquer finish on top of wood. Thanx to everyone for the help. PS Dave my old man said to tell you to get that tub electroless nickel or chrome plated. That would shine.

02-09-2005, 11:01 AM
If it's a commercial finish, it's probably lacquer. Get a small can of lacquer thinner, apply a bit on a rag, and see if the finish dissolves.

Lacquer thinner will also dissolve shellac, but odds are slim that you have shellac. You can test for that with denatured alcohol, which will dissolve shellac but not lacquer.

Or it may be some kind of synthetic varnish. I don't think lacquer thinner will touch that, but it might.

Paul Gauthier
02-09-2005, 12:10 PM
You may have to strip your cabinets which is a messy job. I would suggest using a product called
"Citri-Strip" smell like oranges, does an excellent job.

Paul G.

Frank Ford
02-09-2005, 12:14 PM
I use acetone to test for lacquer finishes almost every day. It will dissolve nitrocellulose lacquer INSTANTLY, so a cotton swab is all you need. Shellac will remain pretty much untouched by acetone, as will catalyzed polymer finishes. OLD (on the scale of decades) shellac loses its solubility in alcohol.

If you've deterimined that the finish is lacquer, and you plan to spray a new coat over the top of the old, suff sand it lightly and spray on a coat of retarder thinner or Cellosolve and let it dry to a fingerprint free state to make sure the new lacquer really burns into the old.

Here's a bit more on testing the finish: