I have used shellac as a sealer for knots in pine that I'm going to paint. The shellac won't let the pine resins in the knots bleed through the paint. If you have pets, it will also seal a soiled spot in your floor that is under carpet. Usually you don't know the spot is there till you are replacing the carpet. Helps with the odor too.
I use it as a component part of a friction polish for turned work.
It drys so fast, I don't like it as a stand alone finish. As far as color and cut, someone else will have to address these with you. I've always took the ready mix route and bought mine at the hardware store. Several of the more popular woodworking mags just recently ran articles on shellac. Might try an online search for info that way.
Jerry, I've never used shellac. I really dislike finishing my projects. I would like to send them all away to you to finish, because I know you are a finishing expert. I just don't feel comfortable applying the finish, and even sanding before that. Yuk!
I was not fond of Finishing my projects either till a friend of mine showed me some of his projects and what they looked like before and after. So I have learned to like it or still in the process. LOL I have found it easier to rough sand with 100 grit sand paper as I go then do the finishing touches with 180 or 220 grit at the end of my projects. I do this so it does not take me as long at the end. Lately I have been trying to make them look rough and natural as possible.
I have never used Shellac but may try it on one of my projects soon. I usually use Minwax Stain and lately I have been using liquid iron to make things look weathered or old.
I agree with jerry on the finish is what people see first when your project is through. I just wish it was easier. LOL
I'm sorta like Julie on this one. I love building my projects but I get lazy when I'm finishing them. Like I said in the other post I'm going to try some shellac on some of my up coming projects. I think why I get lazy about it is all the sanding when I'm using poly products which probably explains why I get a duller finish. Next summer I'm taking all the shelves I've built and going to try what visteonguy suggests I'm getting myself a spray gun repoly with that of course I'll have to do some light sanding on all of them. But I have seen the results and that's what I want to see on my projects.
You do not need a spray gun to get get good finishes. Try using an alkd or phenolic resin varnish instead of that polyurethane varnish and your finishes will be clearer and not darken as much. As an added benefit you will have less sanding,the reason you must sand between each coat of polyurethane varnish is because it has adhesion problems and doesn't even adhere to itself well. There is a whole world of finishing out there away from the big box stores (Home Depot,Lowes etc.)
Thanks Jerry for the tips and information. I have been checking out our local hardware stores for the differnt finishing products that they carry. I was not aware how many different types they carry till I was looking for some Ebony stain.
I noticed that HD and Lowes only carry what will sell quicker.
Randy, you are correct in your observations- the large stores do not specialize. I have learned a few methods of finishing lately and have been pleasantly surprised with the results. As hobbyists, I think we are hesitant to get our projects close to completion and become scared when choosing a finish. Some of the hand- rubbed oils and waxes were a good place for me to start. I have also used a spray shellac and found the results very satisfying. Taking the time to choose the proper finish will only make your project more appealing. Like I said before, Jerry has a great deal of knowledge. He is very willing to help. Also, check out the monthly woodworking magazines. There is always tips and tricks. -Derek
It's kind of reassuring to see that I'm not the only one around that suffers with FDS (Finishing Deficiency Syndrom) - The shellac thread got my attention because I'd just sort of stumbeled into using it (amber shellac) and then following with a paste wax coat. I've liked the results and the way it really brings out the wood without looking plastic coated. Not having seen much written about it, I began to get a little nervous ... I mean after all, if I actually was liking a finish that I had applied, something had to be terribly wrong.
I e-mailed David Thiel who responded with a couple of articles by Bob Flexner that went a long way towards reassuring me that I wasn't nuts.
What I've been doing is applying 2 or 3 coats of amber shellac, letting the last coat cure for a day or 2, and then applying paste wax - first with fine steel wool (which seems to knock down any brush ridges) and then a couple more coats of wax with a soft cloth, buffing each coat. No stain ... nothing else.
So far I've used it on Poplar, Oak, Cherry and Maple and actually am quite pleased with the results. The grain pops out, and you also get a sort of antique-ish look to it.
Just thought I'd throw it out there for what it's worth.
I've used shellac quite a few times. I always purchased the Bulleye 3# cut stuff that was clear. But shellac has a very short shelf life. I think it's a year. For my use I was always throwing the the cans away half-full. I started mixing my own a bit ago. Purchased the flakes and mix with alchohol. The problem with mixing your own is getting the proportions correct. The instructions are miserable.
I use it mostly as a sealer, something that would insure that the stain goes on evenly. I'd cut it even further and put on 2 coats with a light sanding in between. (I got this idea from the tv show Funiture On The Mend. It ran a couple of seasons.) I've also used it as a final finish but my finish of choice is a wipe on oil/polyurethane mix like Sam Maloof's.
The advantages of shellac are fast drying and totally non-toxic. I wouldn't use the amber unless I was trying to color with the shellac.
The mixing proportions are not difficult when you just think of the numbers,and ignore the old pound cut description.A thin mix (1lb cut) is 16 ounces of shellac to one gallon -128 oz- or a ratio of 8 to 1. One quart of alcohol -32oz- mixed with 4oz shellac flakes is also a 1lb cut. What I usually do is loosely fill a small mason jar half way with flakes and finish filling with alcohol.Since i pad on most of the shellac I use I want the first application to be thick, I then add more alcohol. If you brush or spray use the 8 to 1 ratio per lb/cut. And what ever you do use some of the less refined flakes to add some natural color to your work. Once you get used to using shellac you will enjoy its many benefits.
Berry, I missed some of your post. Most of the time it isn't necessary to use an addtional sealer, the first coat of any finish is a sealer, on a few woods,such as cherry,maple & birch pigment stain tends to blotch and a wash coat of shellac is useful there. If you don't want to add any color use super,or ultra blonde.If you like golden oak stain on oak,substitute orange shellac,its cheaper and dries in about a half hour.
Jerry do you ever use or have ever used WaterLox after applying the Shellac.I have read alot about it and may try it on one of my projects. I am going to use the Bulls Eye Shellac which I have never tried, before and after applying an Ebony Stain and then the WaterLox on the top. I may look at mixing my own if I like how it works.
GoonMan: I can't tell what wood you are using or what you want the finish to be,except dark. Waterlox original finish is a phenolic resin- tung oil varnish. The original sealer is their finish thinned with with MS to make a wiping varnish (there really isn't any reason for you to buy any of the wiping varnish -make your own ). I don't think there is any reason to use the shellac under the Waterlox varnish although you could. This is a very tough varnish( but it is pricey) it was originally sold to schools as a gym floor finish. If I had a little more info perhaps I would see the reason for the shellac.
I answered this post but it seems to have disappeared. There isn't any reason to use anything other than the Waterlox Original Finish, it is more than good enough for any table.If you want to try shellac get a sampler pack and denatured alcohol and have at it. A couple of sources for shellac are Homestead Finishing Products and shellac.net. The big box stores are a good source for alcohol and boiled linseed oil.
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