Switching to spray shellac

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Blog entry by Rustic posted 06-06-2009 04:52 PM 1937 reads 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

After looking at Russel’s pics of a project that used a spray shellac, I decided to give it a try instead of spray on poly. I gotta say that I was very impressed with the results of 1 coat of shellac vs. 3+ of poly. 1 coat of shellac gave me the sheen I have been looking for. So… Thanks Russel for the inspiration to step out of the box.

I am now a fan of shellac.

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

8 comments so far

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 3666 days

#1 posted 06-06-2009 05:16 PM

Hey I agree. Just don’t use it outdoors. It bubbles all up. Good to see you again buddy.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2821 posts in 3010 days

#2 posted 06-06-2009 06:19 PM

If you wipe or spray poly onto raw wood it takes more coats to get the finish you want. Spray one coat of shellac to seal the wood and then topcoat with poly. To me, shellac is to soft to be a topcoat, and that’s not what it was intended for anyhow.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 2945 days

#3 posted 06-06-2009 07:49 PM

I have to disagree that is wasn’t designed as a topcoat. French polish is just a shellac finish. For a tabletop I would suggest using laquer over the shellac and not poly if you want it to be durable, but for the rest of the piece you can just use shellac, then wax. This is what I do for most of the pieced I build.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View a1Jim's profile


115172 posts in 2997 days

#4 posted 06-06-2009 08:00 PM

I agree with shellac not being as good of top coat as polly as far as durability but it has been used as a top coat for century’s. As far as shellac being compatible with poly shellac is the perfect coat between all finishes to insure adhesion between non compatible products sure as water base over oil, of course I’m speaking of dewaxed shellac.

-- Custom furniture

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3359 days

#5 posted 06-06-2009 08:26 PM

Hey Rustic, thanks for the nod. Though, I don’t typically use spray shellac as a finish except for the wheelbarrows I’ve built. Like kolwdwrkr said, I use shellac as a seal coat and then wipe on 3-4 coats of poly (sanding inbetween). I use the spray shellac out in the shop because it’s pretty quick, and I use the wipe on poly because it’s the least messy. Shellac can be a final finish, but will require sanding and multiple coats.

-- Working at Woodworking

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2821 posts in 3010 days

#6 posted 06-06-2009 08:40 PM

Shellac may have been used as a top coat for centuries but it is prone to water damage and is to soft, especially for table tops and things that have objects placed on them like shelves. That is why we change things to improve the situation. If it was a good durable finish we wouldn’t need so many different things.

It is however a perfect barrier coat between stain and finish, as well as makes a good washcoat if applied thin. Because it can adhere to any surface, including metal, it helps to prevent adhesion problems between non compatibles like Jim said. I’d say use it as a topcoat for a box but not a table.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View a1Jim's profile


115172 posts in 2997 days

#7 posted 06-06-2009 08:45 PM

Correct again Kolwdwrk it’s not very durable but easily repairable. most projects I would recommend a much more water resistant finish.

-- Custom furniture

View Rustic's profile


3220 posts in 3016 days

#8 posted 06-06-2009 09:42 PM

My thought is that most of the stuff I make is used indoors and won’t get much abuse. Thank you everyone for your comments. It is greatly appreciated

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

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