You Can Make The Cut With Shellac!

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Blog entry by David posted 10-06-2008 05:37 PM 4903 reads 3 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a video follow-up from a previous text entry (Episode #71 - Shellac, Can You Make the Cut?) on my blog The Folding Rule. Tag along with me in the shop and you will see that in fact you can “make the cut” and add this fascinating finish to your shop reportaire. This episode covers mixing shellac from dry flakes (1# cut amber shellac) and reducing a premixed cut to a thinner cut (1/2# cut spit coat).

Download a nifty shellac chart for your shop and consider using shellac on your next project.

Be forewarned . . . the only thing more boring than watching someone mix shellac is watching a pot of water boil or perhaps watching your lawn grow!

Coming up in future episodes:
Why you might want to consider getting a hot water pot for your shop and a primer on first-aid for the woodworker.

Got an iPod or iPhone? Well check out The Folding Rule Podcast! I am slowly posting new and previous video content in a format appropriate for the iPod & iPhone.


• • • UPDATE 10/07/08 • • •

The following tips are paraphrased from an email by Jeff Scharver, an organic chemist and fellow woodworker.

• Use Zinsser SealCoat as a 1# cut as a wash coat prior to finishing to help prevent blotchiness in cherry and uneven stain/dye absorption in soft woods like fir and poplar.

• Dewaxed Zinsser SealCoat is warranted to have a 3-year shelf life after which it may begin to degrade (chemical jargon is esterification). Zinsser has a proprietary formulation which slows down degradation.

• Plain household aqueous ammonia is perfectly fine for cleaning up syringes, containers, brushes, and wipe on rags. It’s a lot cheaper than denatured alcohol for this step.

Thanks Jeff!


15 comments so far

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4050 days

#1 posted 10-06-2008 06:24 PM

Good job Dave. Your video casting is really comming along.
Thanks for the fine presentation.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3968 days

#2 posted 10-06-2008 06:51 PM

For those that find mixing Shellac too exciting here's the place to watch grass grow.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3741 days

#3 posted 10-06-2008 07:18 PM

Phew, Russel you should warn people…I couldn’t stand the pace on that web site. Good thing I had may AED handy :-)

Thanks David for posting these, I will try to watch them when I am outside the firewall here.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View bayspt's profile


292 posts in 3733 days

#4 posted 10-06-2008 07:44 PM

Dave, Excellent job. I haven’t used shellac before, and I think I might have to try it now. Expecially after this and the way Marc S. TWW raves about it.

-- Jimmy, Oklahoma "It's a dog-eat-dog world, and I'm wearing milkbone underwear!"

View Karson's profile


35126 posts in 4429 days

#5 posted 10-06-2008 11:27 PM

Great david. I’ve used Shellac for years. Mostly as a French Polish.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4092 days

#6 posted 10-07-2008 01:47 AM

Good to see you posting, David.
I do like my Zinnser SealCoat, very versatile and a fast finish.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3741 days

#7 posted 10-07-2008 05:07 AM

A great video, thank you for the clear concise descriptions. The syringes are a great idea.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6859 posts in 4008 days

#8 posted 10-07-2008 03:16 PM


Is that really you?

Good to see your smiling face again.

And thank you for the editing work you did on the ezee-feed video. That was a pleasant surprise for sure!.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View matt garcia's profile

matt garcia

1897 posts in 3700 days

#9 posted 10-08-2008 02:52 AM


Thank you so much for the lesson. I’ve been looking for a tutorial on mixing shellac, and just recently purchased some flakes from Rockler. Maybe you can email me with an application tutorial for my first attempt at finishing with shellac!! Thanks again! We all need smart guys like to you to help us all along!!


-- Matt Garcia Wannabe Period Furniture Maker, Houston TX

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4167 days

#10 posted 10-08-2008 06:12 AM

Thank you all for the kind comments!

I am still trying to wake up after spending a couple of hours on the “watching grass grow” website that Russel posted. Perhaps watching grass grow is more exciting than watching someone mix up a batch of shellac!

Douglas & Lee, thanks for the welcome back. Things have been pretty busy here. I am hoping to start being more active with Lumberjocks. My difficulty is keeping up with all the great LJ blogs, projects, and reviews while maintaing a balance with family life, regular work schedule and squeezing in some shop time. A difficult task indeed for all of us! I am so impressed with the depth and richness of the woodworking content on Lumberjocks.



View David's profile


1969 posts in 4167 days

#11 posted 10-09-2008 07:23 AM

BeechPilotBarry -

Cool avatar you have there . . . I am assuming you have the afterburners lit!

I agree that shellac has a place in every shop!



View FlWoodRat's profile


732 posts in 3938 days

#12 posted 10-11-2008 11:44 AM

David. Great video presentation. You inspired me to try out a shellac finish on a project. I don’t want to sound critical BUT, I think it would have been a good idea to toss in 30 seconds of information on Shop Safety, e.g. Using good ventilation while using the alcohol AND just as importantly, considering FIRE SAFETY. Alcohol is quite volitile and flammable. Plus, one should use care when handling the rags and such. Spontaneous combustion can be an issue.

Thanks for posting. I’m going to add your Folding Rule to my favorites!!!!

-- I love the smell of sawdust in the morning....

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3903 days

#13 posted 10-11-2008 12:56 PM

Very nicely done. Some great tips in your video. Thanks for producing it.

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4167 days

#14 posted 10-11-2008 11:02 PM

FLWoodRat -

From one OBG to another, thanks for the comments & safety insight! You bring up some important and interesting safety comments. I do have a safety & first-aid episode coming up in the near future (so stay tuned!) as this is a personal and professional interest. Rest assured that I have a fire extinguisher and first-aid supplies close at hand. Safe handling of shop rags is always an important point to keep in mind. The good thing about alcohol and shellac is that the alcohol rapidly evaporates and rags with shellac residue are not at risk of spontaneous combustion like oil / varnish soaked rags.

Best Regards,


View Woodn88s's profile


80 posts in 3570 days

#15 posted 10-17-2008 02:13 PM

fantastic information and very well done, thanks for taking the time.

-- I want to know Gods are details "A. Einstein"

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