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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-30-2012, 09:34 AM Thread Starter
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Default Working with shellac

I'm making a small pine top side table, been testing BLO + shellac, treated it with a old fashion vinegar + steel wool first. It looks great - it has 2 coats of BLO, 3 coats of shellac.

I'm having a hard time laying down the shellac uniformly, my last coat went on the best yet, but there are still a few thicker lines and one or two starved spots. It's cottage furniture, so I'm not sure how much I care but... I'm trying to decide if I should try to fix these shellac lines, it would look much nicer with a smoother finish. Can you smooth a shellac finish with a rag soaked in alcohol, or is this just going to get me into more problems? Am I better off sanding the whole thing with very fine sandpaper and calling it a day?
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-30-2012, 09:37 AM Thread Starter
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I should say, I was using a generic pre mixed recochem white shellac, which is a 2 pound cut.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-30-2012, 09:44 AM
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Good Morning Rob

It isn't as easy getting a consist shellac finish on pine. I find that using a pre-stain product before applying shellac helps considerably. Try this out on pine scrap wood before your next project.

I am sorry that I have no quick fix to your current situation. Hopefully one of our forum members will be able to advise you.

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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-30-2012, 10:00 AM Thread Starter
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Morning Ben,

That's fair. I'm going for a "rustic" look, so I'm not too worried about perfection. The whole thing was just a quick project to get some wood out of my shed and solve some table issues at the cottage and play with a BLO/shellac finish.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-30-2012, 03:13 PM
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A rag just damp, not dripping.
A quick wipe should do it.

You are just re-activating the coat of shellac.

Testing on scrap should give you a good idea of how it will come out.

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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-30-2012, 04:46 PM
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You can also try lightly wet sanding with a 400 grit sandpaper when it is dry between coats.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-31-2012, 08:28 AM Thread Starter
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Arg, it looks like I may be redoing it all. The shellac never quite dried; a day later, the surface is slightly tacky. I'm never buying premade shellac again!

I'm going to try wiping down with a rag moistened with alcohol, I read somewhere that may solve this, but I don't have a lot of faith it'll work. If not, I'm going to remove it all and leave it as a BLO finish.

Thanks for the tips everyone, I'm looking forward to using them in the future!
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-31-2012, 09:38 AM
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Still being tacky indicates that it is past its shelf life.
A alcohol damp rag will remove it all.

Don't give up on shellac!! Buy some shellac crystals and make your own.
As long as it is fresh, it will dry very quickly - like in minutes.

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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-01-2012, 10:29 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Ralph! I'll give it another go, not sure for this project or not though, I'd like to see the table in service.

There's a Lee Valley store in my town that sells good shellac flakes and good alcohol to go with it...
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-01-2012, 10:21 PM
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Rob I used some Lee Valley flakes and Lee Valley thinner on some pine and still had problems with splotching and unevenness. I did as Ralph suggested and gave it a good rubbing and it turned out pretty good. I didn't use the Lee Valley thinner for rubbing it down as I don't live near a store and have to order it. I used methanol instead and it did just fine. To me there doesn't seem to be a substitute for rubbing finishes on. I do the same with stains and I always get the best results that way.

Someone I consider a master woodworker once told me that a master woodworker is not someone who never makes mistakes. He is someone who is able to cover them up so that no one can tell.
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