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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

I am looking to finish some relatively small projects with shellac. This will be the only finish on the projects with possibly a final wax coat for protection.

Can someone recommend what size package of shellac flakes I should order (1lb, 0.5 lb., 0.25 lb). Also, and maybe this is hard to answer without seeing the size of the project, how much do you dissolve at a time given the shelf life issue of only several months.

Where do you recommend buying your shellac flakes?

Thanks,
Rob
 

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If it is a small project it might be just as easy to buy premixed shellac. But if you want to mix your own it is referred to as "cut" A 2# cut is 2# of flakes dissolved in one gallon on denatured alcohol, if making a pint just adjust the weight of the flakes accordingly.

Zinnser Seal coat is a dewaxed shellac that is a 2# cut, their other shellacs don't say what the cut is on the label but I think they are all pretty much a 2# cut, but no guarantees

I have looked into buying flakes and making my own, but if you figure in the price of all the ingredients premixed is quite a bit cheaper
 

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It all depends on how much solvent you use (pound cut) but in general, I consider a pound of flakes produce a little less then the equivalent of a gallon worth of finish. Most projects take far less then a pound. I mix what I think will be just enough since it doesn’t have but a six month shelf life. Mix just a little at a time, if your need more you mix some up and have some more ready to go the next day.

A dresser may take 1/2 pound, possibly as much as a pound if you spray all the drawers and interior of cabinet.

I find hand wiping uses less then spraying, but if you stain the wood you will have to spray the shellac or it will cause blotching. There are many colors of shellac to add color to your project so I don’t see any need for staining unless you need to equalize out color in the wood. You can also tint shellac with compatible dye.

If you don’t plan on applying anything on top of the shellac, you can get shellac with wax in it, it gives a deeper hand rubbed finish. If there is any chance you want a top coat on the shellac, like lacquer or varnish, you should buy dewaxed shellac since the top coats won’t stick to the wax.

There are many places to get shellac, with lots of differences in price. Recently someone on this forum had problems dissolving their flakes which weren’t very old. Don’t know if it had anything to do with storage or supplier so I don’t know if all flakes are created equal and you can buy by price alone. I have used flakes that have been stored for years without problem and buy my shellac from https://www.shellac.net


In woodworking there is always more then one way to accomplish something.
 

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Although I have no evidence, I swear shellac mixed from flakes dries harder than pre-mixed shellac.

I never mix more than I’m going to use right away. To make the flakes dissolve faster, I grind them up in a coffee grinder and they dissolve almost instantly. I buy flakes from shellac.net, but I’ve learned not to stock up too much, because I’ve had problems with flakes not dissolving properly when they’re several years old.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you to both of you. You have been very helpfully.

I purchased some pre-made shellac at least a year ago and I didn't appear to use any/much of it, as it looks like a full can. I tested it on some scrap material and it seemed to dry fine. I just wonder with it being at least a year old if it will behave significantly different.

This was the genesis of the original question about flakes and being able to control when it is made to prevent "expiration" or sub-standard results.

I went ahead and placed an order for 1 lb bags of two colors.

Thanks again for the advice and information.

Rob
 
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