Lacquer is a clear or coloured wood finish that dries by solvent evaporation or a curing process that produces a hard, durable finish. This finish can be of any sheen level from ultra matte to high gloss, and it can be further polished as required. It is also used for “lacquer paint”, which typically is a paint that dries to a more than usually hard and smooth surface. The term lacquer originates from the Sanskrit word laksha (लक्ष) meaning “wax”, which was used for both the Lac insect (because of their enormous number) and the scarlet resinous secretion it produces that was used as wood finish in ancient India and neighbouring areas. In terms of modern products for coating finishes, lac-based finishes are likely to be referred to as shellac, while lacquer often refers to other polymers dissolved in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as nitrocellulose, and later acrylic compounds dissolved in lacquer thinner, a mixture of several solvents typically containing butyl acetate and xylene or toluene. Lacquer is more durable than shellac. In the decorative arts, lacquer or lacquerware refers to a variety of techniques used to decorate wood, metal or other surfaces, especially carving into deep coatings of many layers of lacquer.
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.