It took me a long time to realize the full value of finishing products in aerosol cans. Not only can you finish an entire object with these aerosols, especially if the object isn’t large, you can also use them as an easy barrier coat when the finish you’re brushing has the chance of lifting and smearing an underlying stain.
For example, if you’re going to brush a water-based finish over a water-soluble dye, or shellac over an alcohol-soluble dye, chances are you’re going to lighten the dye color or, in some cases, even smear it over the surface. The same can happen with water-based gel stains and any stain without enough binder to glue all the pigment to the wood. If you don’t have a spray gun, or even if you just don’t want to go through the trouble of using one, you could spray an aerosol barrier coat of the same finish you’re brushing (or any other finish) without disturbing the color.
There are a wide variety of products available in aerosols. All four of the common finishes – oil-based polyurethane, water-based finish, shellac and lacquer – are usually available in home centers and paint stores. Polyurethane, water-based finish and lacquer are usually available in gloss, semi-gloss and satin. Shellac is available only in gloss.
Suppliers to the professional trade –for example, Mohawk Finishing Products – offer additional finishes in aerosols, including pre-catalyzed lacquer. They also offer sanding sealers, toners and blush removers, which are used to remove white water rings from lacquer finishes.
Mohawk and other brands are often available at paint stores that sell to the professional trades and from amazon.com.
The downside of using aerosols for finishing, compared to a spray gun, is that the finishes in aerosols are considerably more expensive because of the packaging. They are also usually thinned more than you might like so the product can easily go through the tiny hole. On the other hand, if you do very little finishing, you may find the expense worth it compared to the expense of a spray gun.
The purpose of this post is simply to remind you that all these products are available in aerosols. I often forget this as well, so it’s also to remind myself.
— Bob Flexner