Prep Coats for Oak Before Spraying Lacquer

A shellac coating applied before the lacquer goes on will improve results and help prevent problems. March 28, 2008

Has anybody used Target Ultima Spray Lacquer on red oak? The tech at Target said it is a bit tricky on red oak. Recommended coating of dewaxed shellac.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor J:
I haven't sprayed directly to red oak - I always spray a coat of Target's shellac as a sanding sealer and then start the lacquer. No problems so far.

From contributor M:
Why not lacquer on red oak? What are the reasons? And why use shellac?

From contributor C:
I did a clear oak cabinet job last year about this time. I sprayed Target's amber shellac then topcoated with USL. I didn't have any problems. Still looks like the day I installed it.

From the original questioner:
The shellac will help prevent bridging (per Target tech). They said if I keep it down to 3 coats it should eliminate this problem also. I guess my question now is, do I need to use shellac, and if I don't, will I be sorry?

From contributor C:
I think the shellac will help with the tannin bleed. Ask Jeff at Target. They also have a good forum you can use and find a lot of the information you need there.

From contributor B:
I have sprayed it on red oak numerous times. Have used solvent shellac (not dewaxed) and never had a problem.

From contributor K:
I'll bet they gave you that advice to prevent bubbling in the first coat of the USL. Red oak is pretty bad about doing that with water based and solvent based coatings. The shellac will seal the wood and prevent that to some degree. As a side note, putting dewaxed shellac under USL gives you the smoothest finish you'll find. I don't know why it does, but it does. A good wet coat of Zinsser SealCoat followed by USL... slick as glass.

From contributor W:
I too have used dewaxed shellac under Target USL and other WB's on red and white oak. It makes for a very smooth finish, otherwise you will probably see bridging and other problems common to WB's and oak, especially red oak with the high tannin level.

From the original questioner:
The problem is that I am trying to get away from anything that has a high VOC. An explosion proof paint booth is more than I feel like messing with. Jeff at Target said to limit to 3 light coats and this will eliminate bridging. Does this actually work? Thanks for all of your responses. I don't know where I would go if it weren't for this forum.

From contributor T:
You could use dewaxed shellac - it will solve the problem. What I usually do to get a high end finish is simply spray the wood with warm water, let it dry, sand it down, then wet again. If you repeat this process 4 - 5 times, you will have no more grain raising and a perfect finish.

If you're short on time, you can spray a coat of dewaxed shellac, pore filler, and then finally your lacquer. The warm water method takes much longer but if you are looking for a flawless finish, that is the best way to go. But get ready for some serious time spent sanding.

You may also want to speak to Jeff at Target Coatings when it comes to WB lacquer - the man's simply a genius!