Solarez test piece
Hey guys, have any of you tried out Solarez products, what are your thoughts?
I ordered a few small bottles of their grain filler and UV cure clear coat to play around with.
They arrived the other day and I thought I'd share the results of my test piece.
The 'Highline Guitars' channel on youtube has a run down on how he uses solarez.
But here's what I did;
- First I block sanded the test piece with 80 - 400 grit.
- Then I applied four coats of the grain filler (using a plastic card), letting it cure for 2-5 minutes in direct sun, then lightly sanding with 600 grit between coats, making sure to wipe off all the dust with a rag.
- I repeated this process with about eight coats of the clear coat product, this time applying it using a makeup pad and lightly sanding in between coats with 800 grit, once again making sure to remove the dust.
- Next I moved on to wet sanding, using a cork block and starting at 1200 grit, then 1500 and finally 2000, applying only a light pressure.
- I then started the cutting and polishing phase using number 1&2 3M perfect-it products, using hand foam pads.
- I finished off with the number 3 3M polish using a polishing wheel mounted on a drill.
All said, the results are pretty decent.
Solarez certainly has some things going for it.
It's low toxicity, low odor, 100% solids (nothing to evaporate), it cures in minutes when exposed to direct sunlight and sands easily and I'd say it would work out significantly cheaper than nitro lacquer, a little goes a long way and there's no wastage on overspray.
It doesn't quite have the level of lustre and depth that nitro finish has, though if you applied enough coats that may well be possible, on this test piece I applied around 8 coats,
in future tests I'll try doubling that to see how much glassiness and depth I can achieve.
That said, as you can see in the pictures there's a decent amount of reflectivity and clarity even with 8 coats and it feels very nice to the touch, more like a slick satin finish rather than a tacky gloss feel.
Depending on what kind of finish you're going for I'd say that Solarez is definitely worth considering as an option due to it requiring no spray equipment, no hassle with fumes or protective gear and an amazing turn over time, I finished the test piece in a matter of hours compared to lacquer which would have taken weeks to fully cure.
To conclude, I'd definitely recommend people try out their clear grain filler as an alternative to water or oil based products, and I'd recommend people try their clear coat if you want a result that's in between
an oil finish and a high end gloss coat.
@e-den-hertog Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be widely available outside the US.
I found one surf board building supplies shop that sells it in Australia where I am.
You can also order directly from the Solarez website, they ship worldwide but the cost of shipping can nearly outweigh the cost of the product itself.
They have a distributors section on their website, perhaps you can look there to see if someone stocks it closer to you.
I'd like to add a little follow up to this experiment.
I went ahead and doubled the amount of coats on my test piece, so it now has around 16 coats.
It definitely improved the depth of the gloss, I recommend something like 12-15 coats for the best result.
I also identified some of the limitations of this product.
The reflectivity on certain angles is quite excellent, but at some angles there's a contrast between the refraction of light from the clear grain filler and the top coat.
I tried to highlight this effect in one of the attached photos.
Basically the stuff in the deeper grooves of the grain appears shinier, or whiter than the thinner top coat, and it tends to stand out somewhat on certain angles.
In other words, as Solarez varies in thickness there's some variation in the amount of light refracted.
I also tried a smaller test piece with the clear coat only (none of their grain filler) but the result was the same, so it's not a side effect of their grain filler, it's just Solarez in general.
It's like having a body of water that's deeper in some places, the deeper parts reflect the light a bit differently.
I'm thinking that one work around may be to use a standard solid, coloured wood filler like Timbermate instead, then use the Solarez as the top coat only.
I'll give that a try at some point.
@jonhodgson Correct it's "I can't believe it's not lacquer".
I know it's a shame it's not easier to get a hold of outside the US.