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-   -   Cleaning and repairing the Shellac clear coat on Vintage sewing machine heads (https://www.quiltingboard.com/vintage-antique-machine-enthusiasts-f22/cleaning-repairing-shellac-clear-coat-vintage-sewing-machine-heads-t193635.html)

Jennigma 12-16-2014 08:50 AM

ok, I'll see how it goes with the lighter fluid. I'm afraid of getting alcohol in contact with the decals, because I silvered part of the decals on the first machine I cleaned up that way-- an otherwise lovely Lotus. (Photos at the link- they don't seem to be posting at the moment.)

ArchaicArcane 12-27-2014 01:29 AM

Hey Glenn and Miriam! I posted this in another thread. Canada being the nanny country that it is has banned or made it extremely difficult to get a hold of denatured alcohol.

Options at this point seem to be:
  • Methyl Alcohol - this is nasty stuff for the nervous system and I planned to do this inside so it's fairly undesirable especially since I have animals who come into this room. I've also read that it can penetrate gloves and standard breathing masks rendering them useless as protection.
  • Everclear 190 proof ethanol - yeah, this isn't banned in the province I live in but denatured is. Go figure! Apparently this is highly regarded by violin makers and such?
  • Lee Valley's Shellac and Lacquer thinner which is a blend of Ethanol and IsoButyl Alcohols and specifically mentions french polishing on the bottle
  • Isopropyl Alcohol - I'm sure that I read somewhere in one of these threads that it's not suitable for this use but a lot of the people on the Canadian Woodworking site say they use it. The main reason it's not recommended seems to be water content? I have a bottle here that's 99%
  • Marine Stove or Fireplace fuel - I've read that some of these are mainly ethanol.

I'm leaning toward the Everclear or the Lee Valley product. Do either of you have any suggestions or recommendations about this?

miriam 12-27-2014 03:43 AM

you may have to experiment - let us know what works. Meanwhile I think I might stock up in case they outlaw it here - nah - that would be too dangerous.

ThayerRags 12-27-2014 04:24 AM

I hope that she finds that Everclear 190 Proof turns out to be an alternative. I’ve been looking for an excuse to stock up on that stuff.....

CD in Oklahoma

Glenn 12-27-2014 08:47 AM

The Lee Valley products work just fine and I have used them with no problems. Ever clear works just fine but in the south they drink it and would not think of wasting it on refinishing LOL. I use denatured alcohol because it is cheap here. Isoprop yl does have to much water and sometimes will cause cloudiness to the shellac finish if not careful.

ArchaicArcane 12-27-2014 10:01 AM


Originally Posted by miriam (Post 7022660)
you may have to experiment - let us know what works. Meanwhile I think I might stock up in case they outlaw it here - nah - that would be too dangerous.

I definitely will! The woodworking forums and some of the instrument makers seem to like Everclear, so that might be where we start. Since Lee Valley is available to us, but a little inconvenient. The everclear however, in a town of 9500 we have 5 liquor stores and 3 bars. I think it will be easier to get. ;) And as I read on one of the forums I was cruising - what you don't use, you can abuse. ;)


Originally Posted by ThayerRags (Post 7022701)
I hope that she finds that Everclear 190 Proof turns out to be an alternative. Iíve been looking for an excuse to stock up on that stuff.....

CD in Oklahoma

LOL! Here CD: Your justification:
"190 proof Everclear (or equivalent brand) works even better than denatured. I've used it exclusively for french polishing and touchup varnish for years." - From http://www.maestronet.com/forum/inde...tured-alcohol/
and another discussion: http://marfioneguitars.com/french-po...using-alcohol/ - He loves even the 151 proof and has used Vodka too.


Originally Posted by Glenn (Post 7023028)
The Lee Valley products work just fine and I have used them with no problems. Ever clear works just fine but in the south they drink it and would not think of wasting it on refinishing LOL. I use denatured alcohol because it is cheap here. Isoprop yl does have to much water and sometimes will cause cloudiness to the shellac finish if not careful.

ETA: Thanks Glenn! I will grab the Lee Valley stuff if the Ever Clear proves difficult to find. I will avoid the Isopropyl then.

ArchaicArcane 12-28-2014 12:00 PM

1 Attachment(s)
OK, As I predicted, The Everclear was easy to find. The first liquor store we hit had it.

Without any basis for comparison, I think it did a great job. I've read where people say it's like working with butter or cream. I understand this statement now. I spent a lot of hours last night doing the cleaning stage with the alcohol and the linseed oil. This is because the finish on the 201 was poor. I mentioned in the other thread that it was almost like the gozilla finish but not. DH described it better - it's like someone threw a handful of sand in the final coat of the shellac. When I realized that with much elbow grease and liberal use of my very soft fingernails that I could remove the raised parts, I set about rectifying what was wrong with the finish so I spent a lot of time with the Everclear. (Locked the cats and dog out of the room for this step!)

[ATTACH=CONFIG]503966[/ATTACH]

This is after cleaning and before the first coat of Shellac.

Glenn 12-28-2014 12:39 PM

That everclear is great stuff. I use it a lot on fine antique furniture that needs a little french polish to bring it back to life.

PS: great work on the machine, looks wonderful.

ArchaicArcane 12-28-2014 06:24 PM

Thanks Glenn! Of course now that I see this process working, I'm eyeballing all sorts of things in the house that can use a refresh. I have a fair bit of Everclear to use up! ;)

asgardner 12-28-2014 10:20 PM

4 Attachment(s)
I have been given my grandmother's Featherweight. It was only ever lightly used and sews like a charm. I would like to clean it and make the finish look nice. I'm not sure it needs a lot of work. Any suggestions? Thanks!
[ATTACH=CONFIG]504011[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]504012[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]504013[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]504014[/ATTACH]


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