String inlaid box #10: Mixing another batch of shellac

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Blog entry by JeremyPringle posted 09-10-2013 04:00 AM 1921 reads 2 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 9: One coat of Boiled linseed oil Part 10 of String inlaid box series Part 11: Installing the hinges but forgetting to pay attention »

I had some issues with the last batch of shellac that I mixed up. It did not dissolve very well, it went tacky too quickly, but yet took a really long time to cure. I contacted the person that supplied the shellac and I explained the situation. The response I got back was very interesting. I was told that the solvent I was using: Everclear, which is 95%, has 5% water. And that I should be using (because we live in Canada, we cannot get denatured) something called Bioflame. Which basically is denatured, but labeled and used for fireplaces. 95% ethanol and 5% iso.

Ok I thought, so I made the sacrifice and went to the store that carries it. Disclaimer… I hate that store. For the sake of this blog, I will just call it C-Tire. If you live in Canada, you will know of which I am talking about.

I was surprised how fast the flakes dissolved. Less than 4 hours. So I softened my lac brush and started on the first coat. I have always found that the first coat cures so fast, I pretty much do 2 coats back to back. SO on went the first two coats. This stuff is awesome! I would say less than 30 seconds of open time, but that is enough overlap half a stroke without leaving brush marks. It cured and leveled really evenly. I am very happy.

It is building really well and I should be ready to install some hinges in the next few days.

4 comments so far

View shipwright's profile


8006 posts in 2853 days

#1 posted 09-10-2013 05:02 AM

Jeremy, you might also try the feed stores. I buy gallon size isopropyl that they sell for rubbing down horses. It’s 99.? pure iso. It works beautifully for shellac. I don’t brush shellac but I find that the slightly slower drying time is perfect for French polishing.
The box is looking great.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 2110 days

#2 posted 09-10-2013 12:32 PM

Thanks for the tip on Bioflame, will keep it for future reference, in case I get around to trying shellac.

-- Joel

View JeremyPringle's profile


321 posts in 2529 days

#3 posted 09-10-2013 01:07 PM

Paul. Last year a friend of mine gave me a small jar of shellac he had mixed up for me to try. He had used iso as the solvent. I used it on the Louis Cube box I made for my wife last Christmas. I actually did not like it very much. It reacted differently than what I was used to and it threw me off. I also asked about this with the supplier, and he did tell me that iso will work, but is noticeable slower at dissolving, and curing.

Some strange stuff I have noticed over the last year as well.
1. I had trouble getting Everclear to dissolve blond flakes, but not the amber flakes from LV. I don’t know if this is because the amber flakes are much thinner than the blonde ones?
2. I have found that the amber mixtures dissolve and cure faster than the blonde ones.
This difference may not be major ones, in fact they are subtle, but I did notice them. A good friend of mine is a Luthier, and he has noticed these things as well.

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2304 days

#4 posted 09-10-2013 01:48 PM

Can you guys up north still get grain alcohol? Down in the states (some of them) you can get a product called everclear, which is 190 proof neutral grain spirits. I remember in my younger days we used to go to Montreal quite a bit. There was a product sold called “Alcohol 95”. I’m not sure if that is still around


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