Nitrocellulose Lacquer

Nitrocellulose Lacquer

The use of nitrocellulose lacquer finish and stain for wood, nitrocellulose laquer.

Craftsman Style

¶ Pyroxylin nitrocellulose lacquers. The lacquers in which we are so much interested today as they are used on automobiles and furniture are not products of very recent inventions as is commonly thought, but are the result of perfecting a lacquer which has been used over a dozen years. The first lacquers of this type made and used a few years ago were thin, so very thin that to secure a body of finish equal to oil and gum varnishes from fourteen to twenty coats of lacquer were required. The trouble was that at that time a very limited amount of the solid matter could be used in each, gallon of liquid. When enough of the solid matter (nitrated cotton) was put into a gallon to make a thick film when dry, it was so thick and sticky that it could not be sprayed upon the surface. These early lacquers were transparent and white. A little later a small amount of color could be added, but not enough to make the beautiful lacquer enamels we now have. The early lacquers also had no gloss. The reason for the great progress in the use of lacquers in the last year or two is the fact that the chemists have learned how to overcome the disadvantages of the old-time cellulose lacquers by producing what is called low viscosity cotton which can be added in sufficient amount to each gallon of liquid to make a thick, transparent film on the surface coated when dry. They have also given us lacquers which will carry, not only sufficient color pigments to produce the brilliant colors noted on automobiles and all manner of merchandise, but also lacquers which will carry opaque pigments; thus we have lacquer enamels. They do not carry as much of the opaque pigments as the oil and gum varnish white enamels, but sufficient for the purpose.

¶ It should be noted that pyroxylin, nitrocellulose lacquers are not related in any way to the other kinds of lacquers which have been used for a great many years, for centuries in the case of the Chinese and Japanese lacquer. These latter lacquers are varnish and shellac compositions of gums, resins and oils, while the pyroxylin lacquers are of entirely different composition; and although they do contain a little of the gum resins used in oil varnishes, as an incidental means of increasing elasticity, they can be made entirely without these gums.

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