A Near-Perfect Matte Finish


Recently while visiting marqueteur Robert Lowry we discussed his technique for finishing his work. His preference for the presentation of his intricate marquetry panels was that they had a uniformly consistent near-dead-flat surface. The process for him achieving this was surprisingly simple and exploited the properties of the finishing materials and his tools.

After prepping the completed marquetry panels and building up the undercoats of clear cellulose nitrate lacquer he applied the final coat in a manner that would have the technical support crowd from his finish vendors shaking their heads in a double face palm, despite the fact that the results were nearly perfect in accomplishing his goal.


Given that gloss is always a surface phenomenon it all comes down to the final coat. For this application he cranked up the air pressure for his spray gun to at least 60 psi, which is probably enough to spray road striping. At the same time he cut way back on the flow of finish through the nozzle tips and started spraying. The outcome of this is the deposition of microscopic droplets of lacquer onto the surface at the moment where they still have enough plasticity to adhere but already dry enough so that they will not flow. In effect he is “flocking” the surface with tiny droplets of lacquer that build into a layer with nearly zero gloss yet have no haze or loss of clarity. I’ve seen and touched the result and it is excellent, more pleasing and complete than any attempt with flattening additives I have ever witnessed.

It’s a feature, not a bug.