What's the difference between lacquer, shellac, varnish and enamel?

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What's the difference between lacquer, shellac, varnish and enamel?

  • I'm building several projects from the pullout plans of GRR and need to know this.

    Ed S. says to put 2 coats of lacquer on the Maine coach and combine (and 1 coat on the Plymouth diesel). I don't have lacquer but I have shellac. WOuld that do the trick?

    Also, once painted with several coats of paint, ed calls for a coat of varnish. Is the varnish to seal the paint, waterproof the paint, make it shiney or make it structurally more sturdy.

    I didn't know whether to post the question here or in the pullout plans.

    Thanks!

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  • I think the shellac has a nicer bouquet, better taste and fuller body to it then lacquer, varnish, and enamel...

    Sorry, couldn't resist.  Please continue on...

    "Measurement is the way created things have of accounting for themselves." ~ A.W. Tozer
  • David,

    Shellac is a an organic rosin made from beetle shells, crushed, and then boiled in alcohol.
    Laquer is a paint without any colouring added i.e. transparent.
    Varnish is a mix of organic rosin and nowadays synthetic resins disolved in a spirit (probably turpentine)
    Enamel is a one of two things: EITHER a coating that sets by the absorbtion of oxygen from the air OR a glaze that is melted into a layer.

    (My father does Marquetry as a hobby -you tend to pick up the technical stuff as a small boy!!!)

    regards

    ralph

    The Home of Articulated Ugliness

  •  FJ and G wrote:

    I'm building several projects from the pullout plans of GRR and need to know this.

    Ed S. says to put 2 coats of lacquer on the Maine coach and combine (and 1 coat on the Plymouth diesel). I don't have lacquer but I have shellac. WOuld that do the trick?

    Also, once painted with several coats of paint, ed calls for a coat of varnish. Is the varnish to seal the paint, waterproof the paint, make it shiney or make it structurally more sturdy.

    I didn't know whether to post the question here or in the pullout plans.

    Thanks!

     

    The laquer is to seal the project, and can be used to color it as well if desired.  Varnish is in fact to seal the paint and add a protective covering.  However, if you dont' want to paint your model 3 times, use one of the modern synthetic paint systems available at your local big box hardware store and leave the shellac in the 1950's where it belongs. 

    BUT with that said, yes, shellac will work fine as a substitute.

    The Dixie D Short Line "Lux Lucet In Tenebris Nihil Igitur Mors Est Ad Nos 2001"

  • Thanks, all; I'm wondering now if spray paint will adhere to shellac. I don't want to try it and get a shellac'in.Big Smile [:D]
  • Thank you for that Ralph, i had a vague idea and that crystalised it all.

    Rgds Ian

  • I did a little bit of digging on the chemical make up of shellac, lacquer and alkyloid enamels to determine what properties, if any, would be more desirable for the average garden railroader.  I discovered this in "Chromatographia" concerning shellac:

    "Many organic materials release polar compounds containing-OH groups when subjected to pyrolysis. To improve GC detection of such polar compounds derivatisation with the silylating reagent hexamethyldisilazane (HMDS) can be achieved in situ while pyrolysing the sample (pyrolysis-silylation). In this study pyrolysis-silylation in combination with GC-MS was applied for the analysis of natural resins, utilised in artistic fields namely sandarac (Cupressaceae), Manila copal (Araucariaceae), colophony, Venice turpentine, Strasbourg turpentine (Pinaceae), dammar, mastic, and shellac. Pyrolysis-silylation of natural resins resulted in the formation of several silylated compounds characteristic of the different kinds of resins. The trimethylsilyl (TMS) ester of sandaracopimaric acid was a prominent compound released from sandarac. Pinaceae resins produced TMS esters of pimaric, isopimaric, methyl dehydroabietic and abietic acids. TMS esters of linear aliphatic and aromatic acids were generated from shellac. Distinctive though as yet unidentified silylated compounds were released from Manila copal and triterpenic resins. "

     

    I didn't bother to research any further, it's late and I've got real work to do, but it sounds like to me that those shellac beetles leave an awful aftertaste.....

     (oh yes, almost forgot, you shouldn't have any problems painting over shellac, it's a great primer/sealer!)

    The Dixie D Short Line "Lux Lucet In Tenebris Nihil Igitur Mors Est Ad Nos 2001"

  • tangerine-jack wrote the following post at 01-27-2007 6:58 PM:

    ...I discovered this in "Chromatographia" concerning shellac:

    "Many organic materials release polar compounds containing-OH groups when subjected to pyrolysis. To improve GC detection of such polar compounds derivatisation with the silylating reagent hexamethyldisilazane (HMDS) can be achieved in situ while pyrolysing the sample (pyrolysis-silylation). In this study pyrolysis-silylation in combination with GC-MS was applied for the analysis of natural resins, utilised in artistic fields namely sandarac (Cupressaceae), Manila copal (Araucariaceae), colophony, Venice turpentine, Strasbourg turpentine (Pinaceae), dammar, mastic, and shellac. Pyrolysis-silylation of natural resins resulted in the formation of several silylated compounds characteristic of the different kinds of resins. The trimethylsilyl (TMS) ester of sandaracopimaric acid was a prominent compound released from sandarac. Pinaceae resins produced TMS esters of pimaric, isopimaric, methyl dehydroabietic and abietic acids. TMS esters of linear aliphatic and aromatic acids were generated from shellac. Distinctive though as yet unidentified silylated compounds were released from Manila copal and triterpenic resins."

    Well, that certainly clears things up! ;)

    What language is that? Klingon?

    :D
    Visit www.raydunakin.com to see pics of the rugged and rocky In-ko-pah Railroad!
  •  tangerine-jack wrote:

    I did a little bit of digging on the chemical make up of shellac, lacquer and alkyloid enamels to determine what properties, if any, would be more desirable for the average garden railroader.  I discovered this in "Chromatographia" concerning shellac:

    "Many organic materials release polar compounds containing-OH groups when subjected to pyrolysis. To improve GC detection of such polar compounds derivatisation with the silylating reagent hexamethyldisilazane (HMDS) can be achieved in situ while pyrolysing the sample (pyrolysis-silylation). In this study pyrolysis-silylation in combination with GC-MS was applied for the analysis of natural resins, utilised in artistic fields namely sandarac (Cupressaceae), Manila copal (Araucariaceae), colophony, Venice turpentine, Strasbourg turpentine (Pinaceae), dammar, mastic, and shellac. Pyrolysis-silylation of natural resins resulted in the formation of several silylated compounds characteristic of the different kinds of resins. The trimethylsilyl (TMS) ester of sandaracopimaric acid was a prominent compound released from sandarac. Pinaceae resins produced TMS esters of pimaric, isopimaric, methyl dehydroabietic and abietic acids. TMS esters of linear aliphatic and aromatic acids were generated from shellac. Distinctive though as yet unidentified silylated compounds were released from Manila copal and triterpenic resins. "

     

    I didn't bother to research any further, it's late and I've got real work to do, but it sounds like to me that those shellac beetles leave an awful aftertaste.....

     (oh yes, almost forgot, you shouldn't have any problems painting over shellac, it's a great primer/sealer!)

    Wow!   Thanks for the tech info!!!

    underworldBig Smile [:D]Big Smile [:D]Big Smile [:D]Big Smile [:D]Big Smile [:D]

    currently on Tour with Sleeper Cell myspace.com/sleepercellrock Sleeper Cell is @ Checkers in Bowling Green Ohio 12/31/2009 come on out to the party!!! we will be shooting more video for MTVs The Making of a Metal Band
  • After I add some more detail to this here Plymouth, I'll experiment with the shellac and paint on this.

     

  • Ray I love your work, i am most impressed and i don't even care if it is accurate or not.

    Rgds Ian

  • Our local club had a few members who purchased the cars of a local brewery.  We asked the owner to autograph the cars with a paint pen which he very kindly did.  The problem became how to seal that without causing it to run.   As it was explained.

    Enamel (and varnish) dry from the outside to inside, thus leaving more time for the thinners to work on the paint underneath; whereas Laquer dries from the inside out and should have less opportunity to make coatings underneath run!

    Now, maybe some coatings scientist in our midst can give some insight on the various properties of the various coatings under discussion!

  • I spoke to a fellow 7/8" scale modeler and he uses shellac after applying the paints.
  •  Capt Bob Johnson wrote:

    Our local club had a few members who purchased the cars of a local brewery.  We asked the owner to autograph the cars with a paint pen which he very kindly did.  The problem became how to seal that without causing it to run.   As it was explained.

    Enamel (and varnish) dry from the outside to inside, thus leaving more time for the thinners to work on the paint underneath; whereas Laquer dries from the inside out and should have less opportunity to make coatings underneath run!

    Now, maybe some coatings scientist in our midst can give some insight on the various properties of the various coatings under discussion!

     

    Bob, read my prior post.  It should be clear as day!

    The Dixie D Short Line "Lux Lucet In Tenebris Nihil Igitur Mors Est Ad Nos 2001"

  • Jack.

    With all due respect; it isn't clear to me at all.

    Rgds Ian