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Shellac finish

624 Views 4 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Quickstep
Your all going to hate me but I like to experiment to see what goes wrong and how and I'm doing my first piece. I got the wood down to a near mirror shine, cleaned it out and gave it a spray and a buff (got the heavy buildup,corning because I didn't let it set), but decided to just throw spray shellac at it while going up in the sanding steps, using olive oil on the last few (what I had available, since learned it goes sour), went 320,400,600,800,1000,2000,3000,5000. Obviously the sanding pads were completely layered by the end but it smoothed out well and seemed to both sand and smooth in the shellac pretty well, if you keep the speed down so the shellac doesn't melt and feel how the machine is gripping as it moves over the surface you can get it to a high polish. Also found dish soap and water works really well for wet sanding it as an alternative to the oil. Currently I'm redoing it with the dish soap method (start out very soapy so the pad doesn't grip the wood then slowly dilute with pure water as your sanding it to get down to the fiber grains. By the time your on pure water the sanding pad is moving as well as when it was soapy due to the woods smoothness. Got a really nice finish on the wood again, shellac sprayed it yesterday with a few light coats and will wait a few days this time before sanding (by hand), layering with shellac and then going at it with the sander again for hopefully a mirror finish. (You'll really hate me when I tell you my sander is a $20 drill attachment 馃槀鈾モ湆)
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Jimbo, welcome to the forum. Sorry, we don't hate or disparage anyone here for trying.
Doing something out of the norm, and evaluating the results, is an admirable trait.
We do like to see photos of projects - even through the Trial and Error process.
I don't know about attacking shellac with power sanding, but let us know how it works out.
Jimbo, welcome to the forum.

Interesting method, but you have to be careful when using water as a lube. If water penetrates any spot on the wood that isn't coated with sealer, it may raise the wood grain enough to have created a real problem with previous sandings.

You can also use mineral oil as a lube. It's economical, readily available in drug stores and doesn't go rancid, like oils that are commonly uses for cooking. I've used it in the woodshop for many years, with great success. All you need is a few drops on a pad, refurbishing the pad with the same amount.

Also, about the drill/sander attachment. If it works for you, go for it. Nobody with respect and common sense, would ever laugh at or condemn your resourcefulness. And, thanks for sharing your experiment/results. Sharing, is what this great forum is all about.

- Bob
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One of my favorite finishes is a slight variation of what you've done. IMHO, cured shellac sands easily enough that power sanding isn't necessary. I use naphtha as a lubricant but even so, being careful to not sand through to wood will save a lot of extra work and blending as Rwhpi mentioned. If you've got a decent coat, you should be able to start at 800 or 1,000. After that, I use Micro-Mesh followed by Meguiar's Show Car Glaze.

I have no scientific proof, but I believe that de-waxed shellac mixed from fresh flakes makes a harder, easier to polish shellac than canned shellac.
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