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  1. #1
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    Sep 2004
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    Maine, USA.
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    6,010

    Applying Shellac

    Within the next week or so, I'm planning to use shellac for the first time. I'll be using it on a project to which I applied tung oil last week - I figured a week or two should give the oil enough time to cure completely.

    I bought a blonde shellac "kit" from Rocker. It says on the kit to apply with a brush. I thought I read somewhere that shellac can be applied other ways as well (sprayed, or rubbing it on). Is the method of applying it mostly just personal preference, or are there any serious advantages/disadvantages to applying it in a particular way?

    Also, how do I know what cut of shellac to use? I was thinking of using a 4 lb. cut in as many coats as seems appropriate with a little 0000 steel wool application in between, but since I've never used shellac before, I'm not sure if this is the right way to go about it.

    Can anybody illuminate this for me?


    [font color=red]Addendum[/font]: Once I mix up the shellac, provided it's in a relatively air-tight container, how long is it good for?

  2. #2
    Member
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    Sep 2004
    Location
    Yorktown, VA.
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    660

    RE: Applying Shellac

    I'm not an shellac expert (in fact, it give me a lot of problems) but I'm far more successful with thinner (1 lb cut) vs thicker (3 lb cut or so). It does take more coats that way, but I find I can get a smoother finish.

    For what it's worth, I've been finishing some bowls with it. My test runs on flat work were actually much easier and less troublesome. Not sure why "round" causes me problems.

    While your oil cures, start shellacing some of your scrap wood. Never hurts to practice! Oh, and label it! My first set of practice scrap I couldn't figure what I did! Now I have labeled em -- white oak + BLO + shellac, white oak + BLO + poly, etc.

    Oh, and shellac seems to be able to make permanent "sharpie" markers less permanent (it runs).

  3. #3
    Member
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    Sep 2004
    Location
    Cedar Park, TX, US of A.
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    16,681

    RE: Applying Shellac

    Shellac can be applied in any of the traditional methods, brushing, spraying or wiping.

    Spraying has the normal benefit of being faster and obtaining a smoother surface than with brushing.

    Wiping entails "airplaning" the shellac onto the surface. The applicator must be moving when it contacts the surface and continue moving until it has been raised from the surface, sort of like an airplane coming in for a landing, touching down, traversing the length of the surface, then lifting off at the end of the surface.

    French polishing is another method using a cloth applicator where the applicator is kept moving in small circles while in contact with the surface.

    Brushing shellac requires keeping a wet edge and not over brushing any areas that are missed until the coat has dried and the next coat is applied.

    Shellac is an evaporative finish and the new coat dissolves the previous coat somewhat leaving you with a solid surface as opposed to poly varnish which gives you layers of finish with each new coat.

    I have found for brushing that a thinner cut, about 1 1/2 to 2 # works best for me. This thinner cut gives more time for the shellac to level before it starts to gel.

    A good practice if brushing or wiping is to apply a 1 # cut, let that dry, then sand lightly. The first coat will raise the grain, but subsequent coats should smooth out nicely with only sanding to remove blemishes in the finish between coats.

    I like to put on a couple coats by brush to begin building the finish, then use a French Polish procedure to bring it to the level of gloss I want.

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