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  • Questions about working with Shellac

    Old 06-06-2015, 09:59 AM
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    Default Questions about working with Shellac

    I stripped the Necchi cabinet to bare wood and am using amber Shellac to finish it. The plan is to let the Shellac cure and then use Bri-wax with a steel wool to finish it.

    This is my first time working with Shellac. For the most part I've gathered a piece of T-shirt into a smooth pom to wipe the Shellac on. I did use a small artist brush to get into corners at times. Now that I am further along the Shellac is drying quickly and it's become a race. I tried dipping into boiled linseed oil a bit first before the shellac ad that helped BUT I still have a few drips and boogered up areas where the cloth dragged. Sanding drips leave uneven light spots. Denatured alcohol with my finger poked into a bit of T-shirt smooths both the roughness and color but leaves a dull spot.

    My questions to the Shellac Gods are: Will the Bri-wax even out the dull spots? Or...will I have to add another coat?

    If adding another coat, can I thin it first with denatured alcohol?
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    Old 06-06-2015, 10:13 AM
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    I also use clean rags to do my shellacking. I just use it dipped and wipe fast and light. I don't put it on heavy.
    Once your existing coats are dry try some 4 O steel wool to even it up. Then put another light coat on it.

    Oh and if you don't know this, you need to stir your shellac once in a while to keep it mixed up.

    The Bri-Wax will not even out the shellac, but it will make it look nice.

    Joe
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    Old 06-06-2015, 10:31 AM
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    Originally Posted by J Miller
    I also use clean rags to do my shellacking. I just use it dipped and wipe fast and light. I don't put it on heavy.
    Once your existing coats are dry try some 4 O steel wool to even it up. Then put another light coat on it.

    Oh and if you don't know this, you need to stir your shellac once in a while to keep it mixed up.

    The Bri-Wax will not even out the shellac, but it will make it look nice.

    Joe
    I have been keeping it stirred. The steel wool sounds like a good idea. Can I thin the Shellac with DNA for this last coat?
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    Old 06-06-2015, 10:46 AM
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    Originally Posted by Mrs. SewNSew
    ....Can I thin the Shellac with DNA for this last coat?
    I don’t know, but I have to wonder if it would depend on who’s DNA you used, and how you got it....

    CD in Oklahoma
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    Old 06-06-2015, 11:23 AM
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    I am laughing about the DNA. I think you would be ok if you use it right away and don't make it to thin. The shellac will get thick if you leave the can open while using. I try to put some in a separate container when in use.
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    Old 06-06-2015, 12:54 PM
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    Originally Posted by ThayerRags
    I don’t know, but I have to wonder if it would depend on who’s DNA you used, and how you got it....

    CD in Oklahoma
    LMBO! I bet there is some of my own DNA in there! HelenAnn, I will definitely do that next time. I am sure I will have messed up this can of Shellac good by the time I am done. I realized I should have been using a separate container once I was half way down and now have a hard time fitting my cloth in the can.

    This has been a good learning experience for me. I am getting more comfortable with Shellac and what I can and can't do with it. Fortunately it appears mistakes are pretty easily corrected.
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    Old 06-06-2015, 02:01 PM
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    LOL! When I first discover that I’m leaving DNA on a machine or cabinet, I quickly suspend work on the item until the ding on me quits bleeding.....

    CD in Oklahoma
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    Old 06-07-2015, 08:05 AM
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    I would add more until there are no dull spots left and yes, you can thin it with a little more alcohol.
    The dull spots indicate there isn't enough shellac in that spot yet. It soaked in more there or was just put on thinner.
    You don't necessarily have to add full coats either. One of the beauties of shellac is spot repairs will bond with the existing shellac underneath.
    The wax and steel wool is how I like to finish off my work too. It gives a nice soft satiny sheen and feels good to the hand.
    Rodney
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    Old 06-07-2015, 09:53 AM
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    For authenticity, We used shellac to refinish our old house's woodwork. We experienced one could not work with it out of the can. To give some extra time we added denatured alcohol quite often to keep it workable. We felt too thin was not a problem, but, too thick was definitely not workable. We thinned to as thin as possible just to the point it would start to run when applied with a brush. This, of course, required up to maybe three coatings. Glen will surely chime in with the gospel.

    Edit: we only used linseed oil in the final coat to smooth the surface. And, then only a drop on the smoothing rag (T-shirt). Bob Flexner has a great book on finishing and is my go-to authority, Understanding Wood Finishing, I believe is the book's title.

    Last edited by Vridar; 06-07-2015 at 10:05 AM.
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    Old 06-08-2015, 06:21 AM
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    Thank you for the great information. I have 2 vintage cabinets I need to refinish, I just wasn't sure what to do. In the 80's I did a number of furniture pieces but haven't since then. I ordered one of Bob Flexner's books and added another to my Kindle. I guess I'll be doing more than quilting and ball games this summer.
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