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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)

ArchaicArcane 01-12-2015 08:00 PM

I probably wouldn't do it outside - if that's why you're waiting til spring. Right now, every time the furnace comes on, I have to pick lint out of my wet shellac. I don't know if I'm just lucky or if the furnace is out to get me but it seems as soon as I start a new coat the furnace kicks in! I would think a breeze would do worse with the dust outside. Of course if you're just thinking so you can open a window - that's not a terrible idea - my studio reeks of linseed oil right now. ;)

It's far colder here at the moment and I'm considering bringing the machine I'm working on upstairs into the living room with the wood stove between coats because when I'm not in the studio, the heater's not on and it gets a little chilly in there.

Hey Glenn? I've been reading on some of the guitar building forums that some people think old (as in shelf life) pre-mixed shellac doesn't cure properly and stays a little soft. Have you noticed this? It seems like this machine is still softer than I'd like (can leave fingerprints in it after a day or two of drying) but I also think temperature and the lack of humidity in the house may be contributing - At one point this winter I hit 19% humidity and I hover around 30% in the studio. With 2 humidifiers - plus the one on the furnace - and a water fountain I got it up to 40% today for the first time in many weeks.

Glenn 01-13-2015 05:42 PM

Tammi, I Used shellac flakes for many years in furniture restoration and yes if it is fresh will cure faster. I have been using the pre-mixed shellac on the old sewing machines and their cabinets with no problems. I just make sure the can is fresh when I pick it up from one of the big box stores. I do let it cure for a few days to make sure it gets hard. The key with fresh shellac canned or flakes is to apply thinly let cure a day and repeat. Three coats is all that is needed on wood. Let cure a week or two before waxing to protect the finish. The pre-mixed shellac shelf life is only about a year. I usually use up a qt can in about three months so never had to worry. Shellac does not like humidity. The lower the better for curing if to high the shellac will develope a white haze and will not cure properly.

ArchaicArcane 01-13-2015 06:39 PM

Thanks for the clarification Glenn!

So I need to go and see if I can figure out how fresh the can is that I got from Home Depot. I looked briefly but only saw a lot number.

I know shellac likes a temperate environment - is the 60 degrees I found the studio at yesterday before I started warming it up going to extend the cure time, do you think? Too high humidity wise is never going to be a problem in this house in the winter. ;) The humidistat I have has a "happy face" in the comfort zone - 68F and 40% humidity is the bottom end and I haven't seen a happy face in a couple of months - always humidity too low. Is there a scenario where the humidity can be so low as to cause problems? I know there are some chemicals that don't like to dry or flash off too fast - automotive paint for instance.

Once I reach the letting it sit for a week or two stage, I can reassemble the machine then let it sit, right? I figure that way if I nick something, I can touch it up then and everything cures at the same time and rate.

Glenn 01-13-2015 07:21 PM

You will not have to worry about humidity being to low and no need to worry about temps either. If you comfortable temp wise the shellac will be to.. In the 1700 they french polished and shellaced some very nice furniture you see in museums today and they did not have any AC or humidifiers and they did just fine. They did not however apply shellac when raining or very high humidity. Shellac does funny things when humity is high or moisture gets in the way. It will turn milky white and will have to be redone. Water on cured shellac will damage the finish in a very short time. You are doing it in the house so you should have no problems at all. Don't sit your drink glass or coffee on the cabinet or use the cabinet as a plant stand we know what happens to the finish then. We see it all the time. Waxing will help protect the finish. Yes after it as cured for a week or two you can put it togther and if you nick it then you can repair it with no problem. Same applies to the machine head when repairing the clear coat.

ArchaicArcane 01-14-2015 06:48 PM

Well, I wouldn't say I'm comfortable at 60F ;) but I get what you mean. I'm going to let the machine sit for a bit and see how the shellac feels. Yes, I've spent a lot of time and effort dealing with cup and plant rings on furniture, I wouldn't do that to any furniture after seeing that. Mug Rugs and coaster aplenty in our house. :)

Ellpea 01-16-2015 12:18 PM

I haven't seen Glenn around here lately, so hope everything is OK!

I do have a question about the finish on a machine. I have a somewhat abused W&W9, or Singer W9. I started to clean away several decades of dirt and dust (using SMO and a lot of care since I've been told that the W&W decals are notoriously fragile. I was hoping to experiment with Glenn's shellac restoring treatment.

Now I discover that the front of the bed was at some point hit with some kind of paint over-spray, leaving one droplet of paint (the size of a split pea) and the rest of the front of the bed sort of lightly fogged over. :(

I would still like to practice on this one, but definitely don't wish to put in the time and effort to blast the finish and repaint. Is it possibly possible to remove this paint without completely destroying whatever finish & decals are underneath?

TIA -- breathlessly awaiting informed and sensible input!
(also, apologies for cross-posting if there are any FB VSMrs here!)

Glenn 01-16-2015 12:58 PM

Paint spatter can be hard to remove. Try placing a drop of alcohol on the top of the drop to soften the paint then scrape gently with something like a credit card. The rest can be removed with a rag on the finger with alcohol and drop of linseed oil to keep the rag from sticking to the finish. Go round and round over the foggy area. If this does not work then you will have to go with finger nail polish remover(acetone). Keep away from the decals. Sometimes the paint drops can be removed with a finger nail. Go slowly with this and you should be fine.

Ellpea 01-16-2015 01:42 PM

Thank you! I'll give this a try IMMEDIATELY. I'm guessing that by alcohol we're speaking of the denatured alcohol, right?

Glenn 01-16-2015 02:19 PM

Yes denatured alcohol.

Windblown 03-02-2015 10:19 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Glenn, I was so very lucky that my Aunt gave me this wonderful little machine last week. Her kids have no no interest in it what so ever. As you can see someone (cleaned ) it and removed most of the bed decals and silvered the rest:( The bed needs some care following you instructions on here.
I would like to know your thoughts on replacing the decals. If so would you do it after the cleaning and before starting the French polish? Or after that, and just give the shellac coat?
Any ideas would be wonderful.
Thank You


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