From Lacquer to Water and Oil Based Polyurethane, we used the most common available
This is one of those cases where the price is too good to be true. While this one appears to be way in the lead, the more the test continues, the more another entry starts to make the most sense ! Which one of these do you currently use?
Only 1 and 5 were "ready to give to a customer" in my opinion after just 24 hours. The rest needed 48 hours for the smell to not be a concern. 6 and 7 still had a distinct smell, but you had to intentionally smell it. The day prior? 6 was very strong, even feet away. The adjustable nozzles were nice for the cans equipped with it. The spray was predictable, and offered excellent coverage edge to edge. I much preferred this style over the traditional nozzle you are accustomed to.
Glowforge encourages the material they are a supplier for, but it is costly, rarely in stock, and the biggest issue I have with it? Gorilla Tape damages the finish it comes with - and easily ! I like being able to take a piece of tap and dab it over and over on small pieces, and this will harm the work piece on the Glowforge Proofgrade clear coating. It however did not affect and of the clear coats tested, which was impressive. 6 and 7 performed the worst, while the others did quite well with either masking that we used. This round was a toss up - making a case for any of the clears numbered 1-5
All of them performed identical to the water test if they were coated with clear - no matter the type or brand. Even after 10 minutes, all still had a perfect bead of water with no absorption. All cleaned equally as well as other when engraved without a mask. A simple baby wipe took the sticky char right off, certainly making a case for not using masks on some projects. 1 through 3 were the only ones that were perfectly clear in our test, where 4-7 did offer varying yellow tints on the white paint wood that we used for testing.
Personally, I would just NOT use 5, 6, and 7. There were the most costly, had the largest odor, had an obvious yellow tint, didn't allow good cohesion of the masking, and were not better than the 1-4 options we tested.
We might not have found a "clear" winner, but we certainly found a few products that shouldn't be your "go to". Use them if you already have them, but know there are better options.
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We looked under sunlight, under a flashlight, and under the lighting in our home, and it appeared that all of these were clear. We thought that 2 MIGHT have the slightest yellow in some lighting conditions, but we were never certain, so it got a "clear" pass. 1 and 3 were undoubtedly, crystal clear in this sample. Considering the same piece of wood and paint was used, we feel confident in these results.
Again, looking at these in multiple light sources just confirmed what we saw. These clear coats absolutely have a yellow tint to them. This is after 2 medium coats of clear. The black lines were actually covered with 1" of tape for the spraying of the clear coats, and you can easily see the color change outside of the black line where the tape was before being removed. "5" also reacted to the sharpie marker, that was done the day prior.
This was a 7 way tie - 8 if you include the Glowforge Proofgrade wood we tested. All of them had an initial bead of water, and it still looked the same after 10 minutes. We wouldn't recommend any of these for outside use based on the testing we did here, as it was not detailed or strenuous enough for that purpose.
One advantage that all of the clear coats was rumored to offer was the ability to not use masking at all - and simply wipe away with denatured alcohol, baby wipes, magic erasers and a few other methods discussed on the forums, so we have to try it out. We engraved these circles after we removed the masking so that we could test this ability.
Well, it appears the rumors are true. While we only tested the baby wipe method, it worked. For some reason I still much prefer the masking, especially now that I learned about the plastic razor blades for removal - but for the times that the engraving is small, or the masking pulls away, this is absolutely a benefit I look to enjoy here in the future ! I noticed no remnants of the sticky char after the wipe was used.
I previously ran an extensive test of wood from a new supplier. Since I had just dialed those settings in, it made sense to see if the clear affected these in any way. Nothing was conclusive that the clear coat required you to modify known good cut settings. This was tested on 2 medium coats, so you may need to slow your settings if you put heavy coats - but you may not from what we have seen here.
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