At my local home improvement store, they only have spray cans of lacquer and brushing lacquer(Minwax clear brushing lacquer). I'm thinking it would be cheaper and faster if I could just use the quarts of brushing lacquer in an actual spray gun instead of buying a bunch of spray cans.

I am trying to get a thick coat of lacquer over stained wood panels.

What makes the lacquer for brushing instead of spraying? And is there any problems that might arise from using brushing lacquer directly in a spray gun?

  • 3
    What makes a brushing lacquer is usually that they add one or more solvents that evaporate more slowly, rather than the usual lacquer thinner which evaporates ultra-fast. I don't think you'll have any problems spraying it as long as you reduce it to the correct consistency for your gun/nozzle and the pressure, as is usual when spraying anything.
    – Graphus
    Oct 19, 2016 at 7:09
  • Can I ask why you're using lacquer specifically and not varnish? Is it that you need the gloss finish to be without colour?
    – Graphus
    Oct 19, 2016 at 7:10
  • I am trying to get a get a high gloss polished finish on some shelves. The wood is already stained so no color is needed.
    – Netduke
    Oct 19, 2016 at 13:06
  • Just to mention though, you can get a perfectly acceptable high gloss using varnish as long as you're OK with the slightly amber colour it imparts. Some waterbased polyurethanes are now good enough for this too and are 'water white'.
    – Graphus
    Oct 20, 2016 at 6:44

3 Answers 3


Yes, you can spray "brushing lacquer"--although depending on your gun, you will most likely want to thin it first with lacquer thinner.

Keep in mind that spraying is not necessarily faster than brushing. You will have to spray more coats to equal a single brushed coat. Also, with spraying there is more waste, since a fair amount of the atomized finish is overspray or floats away in the air and never makes it onto the workpiece.

Anytime you spray, remember to properly clean your gun when you are done for the day.


I haven't used that specific brand, but I have sprayed lacquer several times through my HVLP and it worked just fine. You just have to make a few passes to build up the thickness.


Yes you sure can. However spraying brush on lacquer based on my own personal experience requires to reduce with lacquer thinner to flow properly with HVLP equipment.

I have used Minwax brush on lacquer. The techs at Minwax advise NOT to spray brush on lacquer. Due to the fact doing so will increase VOC levels. Volatile organic compounds can and WILL make a person sick. Invest in a quality respirator.I use 3m cartridge type when spraying. Trust me....don't use a Covid type paper mask. Your lungs and life will thank you.

Technique I use: My experience use a calibrated mixing cup from a auto paint supply store. Use 3-1 mix. 3 parts laquer to one part lacquer thinner. NOT acetone. Clean strip brand lacquer is what I use. Viscosity is good and the minwax brushing lacquer had retarders in it to slow down dry time. Minwax spray can will dry almost instantly. I used a cheap hvlp from harbor freight detail gun with a 1.0 tip. I do small projects. A 1.3 tip works great as well.

The lacquer lays down and levels rather well. 30 minutes and another coat. Every 3 coats I will use 0000 steel wool lubricated with mineral spirits. The end results will result in a glass smooth finish that will rival the best auto clear coat on the market. And yes....you can use automotive clear coat on wood.

  • Welcome to Woodworking and thanks for your comments. Please, feel free to edit your answer to include some formatting to make this easier to read. As it is, it's just a wall of text and those are just difficult to digest.
    – FreeMan
    Apr 5 at 17:23
  • Hi, welcome to StackExhange. In case you didn't spot it, this Q is from 2016! Also, much of your Answer is kinda specific for a query that doesn't mention HVLP specifically, although (as noted in the Comments and in the already chosen Answer at the time) thinning is necessary either way.
    – Graphus
    Apr 5 at 17:31

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