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Chemical Safety

wood finishing

by Alan Noel
Professional Wood Finisher



In the beginning of my career as a furniture restorer I didn't really take into account what chemicals I was being exposed to. There was mineral spirits for oil paints, denatured alcohol for shellac and lacquer thinner or "brush cleaner" in most everyones' garage when I was a kid. When I started restoration work, most of my experiences were with shellac (alcohol) and nitrocellulose lacquer (lacquer thinner).

Needless to say, very early on I was lucky to have worked with someone that knew the dangers of these chemicals and passed this info along to me. As time moved on I kept up with the latest innovations that were being introduced into the market place. Lacquers were being modified with acrylics and catalysts along with oil based varnishes being modified with polyurethane and catalysts as well.

The following are some tips on how these chemicals (thinners) should be handled:

  1. All of these chemicals (thinners) are very flammable.
  2. Always wear nitrile gloves when handling these chemicals.
  3. When spraying any of these wear the appropriate respirator.
  4. Always work in fresh air for minimum exposure.
  5. Keep containers tightly capped and stored in a cool dry place.
  6. Check the containers from time to time for corrosion and leakage.
  7. Go to www.MSDSonline.com for more info.


Visiting Atlanta? Attend one of Alan's upcoming highly informative Highland Woodworking wood finishing seminars:


June 18, 2014  French Polish Workshop
June 21, 2014  Finishing 101
July 9, 2014  Finishing the Finish
July 16, 2014  Coloring Wood



Visit Highland Woodworking's Online Wood Finishing Supplies Department




Alan can be reached directly via email c/o Alan Noel Furniture Refinishing at anoelfurniturere@bellsouth.net.


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