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Woodworker from Sacto
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Hello fellow woodworkers:

I have become a real fan of shellac for top coating, seal coating, wash coating, etc.

I have done a lot of research on shellac and its pros and cons and would love to share shellac info with all of you. I have also used shellac as my preferred coating for years now and so have a lot of experience with it.

So if anyone has any shellac questions, fire away. If I don't have the answer, I'll find it.
 

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Yes thats what i use on all my turnings.I start with a couple coats then use wop.and finish with wax.The shellac makes the wop.shine better for me.
 

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John
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About all I use shellac for is a sealer, as in a painted pine project. That's usually in the form of Zinsser BIN. Beyond that, I don't think I know enough about it to ask a question.:blink:
 

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Woodworker from Sacto
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It's much more than a sealer

About all I use shellac for is a sealer, as in a painted pine project. That's usually in the form of Zinsser BIN. Beyond that, I don't think I know enough about it to ask a question.:blink:
It's great for sealing out oils, knots, stains, etc. But it's much more.

Try it as a clear top coat over your next natural wood finish. It can even be tinted with dye to give the piece a uniform tone.

I prefer to use orange or garnet flakes dissolved in alcohol instead of the pre-mixed. This is mainly so I can control the viscoscity or "cut". But it also allows me to always use fresh product.

What's really cool is that you can make a mistake (drips, runs, sags, etc.) and after it dries, sand it lightly with 320, then brush another coat. Each coat melts into the prior one. Try that with lacquer or poly!

Give it a try.
 

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I'm looking for a reddish/brown colour on pine. I'd like to use shellac but the only stuff available around here is the Amber Zinsser Bullseye shellac, and that seems to give a gold colour after a couple test coats.

Should I order some Garnet shellac off the internet? This is my first time using shellac, what else should I pick up?
 

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Old School
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It's great for sealing out oils, knots, stains, etc. But it's much more.
It does make a good barrier coating.


I prefer to use orange or garnet flakes dissolved in alcohol instead of the pre-mixed. This is mainly so I can control the viscoscity or "cut". But it also allows me to always use fresh product.
That's the only way I would use it.

What's really cool is that you can make a mistake (drips, runs, sags, etc.) and after it dries, sand it lightly with 320, then brush another coat. Each coat melts into the prior one. Try that with lacquer or poly!
One complaint I have is that it's not as durable as other topcoatings, like lacquer, oil base polyurethane, varnish, or waterbase polyurethane. Lacquer does dissolve into the previous application. Scuff sanding other topcoats provides a good surface to be re-coated.








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I use dewaxed shellac as a barrier coat on oily woods such as cocobolo since without it some of those woods just WILL NOT take the poly.

I've become a big fan of it since I started using it and on a few of my bowls I just put on 10 or so thin coats of shellac and no poly at all.

Paul
 

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Although Vinyl Sealer recommends that you remove all contaminants, it will still seal over knots, oil stains and oil glazes.

Pre-cat and Post Cat Lacquers can be tinited and colored with analine dyes as well as Universal Colorants and offer much more protection than Shellac.

"What's really cool is that you can make a mistake (drips, runs, sags, etc.) and after it dries, sand it lightly with 320, then brush another coat. Each coat melts into the prior one. Try that with lacquer or poly!" I don't know what books and specs you have been reading, but lacquers will do the same thing.

Shellac is nice if that is what you want to use and you don't have spray capabilities. But keep in mind that is not durable for any kind of surface under constant use or one that will be getting wet. Polymerized Tung Oil is also a good alternative. The furniture industry abandoned shellac about 70 to 90 years ago in favor of nitrocellous lacquer. The standard Nitro lacquer has fallen by the wayside in the last 10 or 15 years in favor of pre-cat, post- cat lacquers as well as conversion varnish and other high tech products.

Look at the attached PDS for some info on the above products.

Like I said, there is nothing wrong with shellac if that is what you want, but some books make it sound like it is more that what it is.

The only time I use shellac on antiques is when a customer wants it, which is very rare. In most cases of shellac, it is used for preservation purposes to replicate the original finish.
 

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Woodshingle...I'm down here in Roseville and I'm having trouble with the shellac laying down. I'm putting a finish on a 7 ft x 38 in 5/4 walnut top. I did a matching bench and the top turned out beautiful. The bench was done last fall. I've stained it and now sealing it with dewaxed shellac but the shellac is tacking up on me too quickly. I've cut with maybe 40 % alchol, and have a alchol soaked staining pad when I apply so that I can keep it flat. Applying it straight out of the can is out of the question. Is it because of the warmer temp that it's tacking up so quickly or what. I've managed to get two thin coats over the stain. I've since have used por-0-pac for filler and want to seal that with shellac but I'm concerned it's going to goo up on me again. I've tried doing it a night where the temp is down but it doesn't help much. What's my solution???
 

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Woodshingle...I'm down here in Roseville and I'm having trouble with the shellac laying down. I'm putting a finish on a 7 ft x 38 in 5/4 walnut top. I did a matching bench and the top turned out beautiful. The bench was done last fall. I've stained it and now sealing it with dewaxed shellac but the shellac is tacking up on me too quickly. I've cut with maybe 40 % alchol, and have a alchol soaked staining pad when I apply so that I can keep it flat. Applying it straight out of the can is out of the question. Is it because of the warmer temp that it's tacking up so quickly or what. I've managed to get two thin coats over the stain. I've since have used por-0-pac for filler and want to seal that with shellac but I'm concerned it's going to goo up on me again. I've tried doing it a night where the temp is down but it doesn't help much. What's my solution???
I would recommend cutting it down to a 2lb cut. It should help make it dry a lot faster. Also to much alcohol will make it sticky. A 2lb cut with a small amount of alcohol will make a big difference. It might require a few coats more coats. If your shellac dose not lay flat you can sand with oil as a lube and sand with 1500 or better.
 

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Thanks for your reply....I'm using ZINSSER Bulls Eye sealcoat. I've never used shellac before so I don't know how to achieve a "2 lb" cut. My problem is that it's impossible to keep a wet edge, especially on such a large surface so I end up having an overlap where they shellac is building up and drying so quickly that I keep a wet alchol pad to wipe it clean. Is there a retardent that I could mix in to delay the drying process enough where I could work with it.
 

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Thanks for your reply....I'm using ZINSSER Bulls Eye sealcoat. I've never used shellac before so I don't know how to achieve a "2 lb" cut. My problem is that it's impossible to keep a wet edge, especially on such a large surface so I end up having an overlap where they shellac is building up and drying so quickly that I keep a wet alchol pad to wipe it clean. Is there a retardent that I could mix in to delay the drying process enough where I could work with it.
Make a thicker cut. The premade stuff is usually a 3-lb cut, which is pretty thick. It doesn't LOOK thick or viscous but I mean relative to a 1-lb or a 2-lb.

A "1-lb cut" is one pound of shellac flakes to one gallon a DNA. A 3-lb cut is one 3 pounds of shellac to one gallon DNA.

I use about a 1.5-lb cut (I'm pretty casual about measuring 'cause I'm not much concerned if it's off a bit). I dries REALLY quickly since it's mostly DNA.

I've not heard of anybody using anything thicker than a 3-lb cut but it might be OK. If you're already using premixed stuff from a can (3-lb mix), you can only get it thicker by buying and adding flakes.
 

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The other thing you could do is add a drop of olive oil to your pad. A little go's a long way. The shellac should dry quickly. The problem you are having is because the shellac is not drying fast enough. The olive oil will rise to the top and can be removed by a cloth with a drop of DNA. If you are not sure how to make a 2lb or 1.5lb cut I would look it up. Also Fresh flakes are a lot easier to work with.
 

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again...I thank you guys for your info. This is the largest and most expensive project I've attempted and the dining table top is the star of the show so I'm really try to get it right. Never anticipated my difficulty with shellac. It's solid Black Walnut with w/ 4 in x 4in corner legs with the top of the legs as part of the table top. With this being so important that I get it right I'm going to take your suggestion and go buy the flakes and mix my own. Again...thanks for your response..it's much appreciated. Jerry
 

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Hello: I am attempting to stain pine as evenly as possible. I applied three coats of 1 pound coat; and then tried to stain; the problem is that the dark (summer growth, I've just learned from the list) veins stubbornly refuse to take any stain; while the softer fibers do darken as expected. I am trying to achieve a "Bombay Mahogany" dark cherry, almost plum tone. So, what can I do to get the hard fibers take the stain? Thanxs in advance
 

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Hello: I am attempting to stain pine as evenly as possible. I applied three coats of 1 pound coat; and then tried to stain; the problem is that the dark (summer growth, I've just learned from the list) veins stubbornly refuse to take any stain; while the softer fibers do darken as expected. I am trying to achieve a "Bombay Mahogany" dark cherry, almost plum tone. So, what can I do to get the hard fibers take the stain? Thanxs in advance
It may depend on what your final sanding grit was used prior to applying the shellac. Sounds like you applied too much shellac. The problem with using a sealer of sorts to condition wood can be problematic. Too much sealer, and the wood doesn't accept stain. Too little, can be ineffective. You have soft and hard parts. And you have light and dark parts. It takes experimenting with preparing the sanded surface to accept stain, but not overly abraded to open up the pores more than necessary. Too smooth of a surface works the opposite, where the stain penetration can be limited.

When making test samples, take each sample out to its final finishing stage, as along the way it will change in appearance with every step.








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