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Lacquer over shellac??

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Blog entry by mrfixitri posted 1305 days ago 7305 reads 0 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Anyone have any experience applying brushable lacquer over a de-waxed shellac? I’m under the impression you can put just about anything but polyurethane over shellac. This happens to be going on an solid ash table top. Two coats de-waxed shellac were already applied, scuffed and now ready for a topcoat. Thx

-- Larry, formerly of East Greenwich, RI - "Rhode Island's Oldest Home": http://www.circa1679.com



22 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2455 days


#1 posted 1305 days ago

Larry, you can put any topcoat, including polyurethane, over shellac. Shellac is a universal base coat and is a good topcoat itself, provided the project is not going to come into contact with water or alcohol.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View 747DRVR's profile

747DRVR

199 posts in 1990 days


#2 posted 1305 days ago

I do it all the time.Scott is correct you can use any topcoat over dewaxed shellac.It’s the shellac that still has the wax that you cannot put poly over

View mrfixitri's profile

mrfixitri

53 posts in 1931 days


#3 posted 1305 days ago

Thanks Scott. I just finished applying the lacquer and it seems like the lacquer is taking on an orange peel texture. Should I have thinned it first? I know that most times the lacquer levels on its own. If it doesn’t this time i`ll sand it down a bit and apply a thinned version next. Sound right to you? Thx, Larry

-- Larry, formerly of East Greenwich, RI - "Rhode Island's Oldest Home": http://www.circa1679.com

View ksSlim's profile

ksSlim

977 posts in 1523 days


#4 posted 1305 days ago

Surface prep after shellac? just curious. I use wiping varnish/poly over shellac after 320-400 surface buff.
Make sure the shellac is dewaxed or take it down and rebuild finish.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8773 posts in 2733 days


#5 posted 1305 days ago

The blanket statements “you can use any topcoat over dewaxed shellac” and “shellac is a universal base coat” is a bit erroneous.

Catalyzed lacquers and catalyzed varnishes are NOT compatible with shellac.

The orange peel is a problem experienced when using a sprayer, not a brushing application. Very likely you are experiencing fisheye and it is from incompatibility or a contaminated surface which is also incompatible with the finish.

If you are getting fisheye, each consecutive coat will exaggerate the problem and it will become more pronounced. The solution is to get some “fisheye reducer” from a finish supplier. Most any store like Sherwin Williams, Pittsburgh Paint, or Columbia Paint will have or be able to get this product because it is a common need for the professionals.

The good news out of this is that because it is a common issue, you are not alone and there is a solution and it can be fixed.

Out of all this, you are going to gain some great experience and it will make you a better woodworker.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

View Asher's profile

Asher

44 posts in 2578 days


#6 posted 1305 days ago

Todd I have always known shellac to be the universal bonder. It will bond with any finsh and any finish will bond with it. I have sprayed tons of catalyzed laquers over shellac with no problems. Just my two cents.

View mrfixitri's profile

mrfixitri

53 posts in 1931 days


#7 posted 1305 days ago

Todd, is the Minwax brushable lacquer a catalyzed version, or something altogether different? If the fisheye remains after drying, I guess I’ll just sand it back down to the shellac? Rather than go through this again, what can go over the shellac that is alcohol-resistant? I try to avoid polyurethane when I can. And if lacquer is that tempermental, I think it best I don’t use it on this particular project.

-- Larry, formerly of East Greenwich, RI - "Rhode Island's Oldest Home": http://www.circa1679.com

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8773 posts in 2733 days


#8 posted 1305 days ago

Asher – the reps (of course) do not recommend it and I know of guys that have had issues that occur over time.
Does the finish bond? Yes.

Then what is the issue? As I understand it the shellac is softer than the catalyzed finishes and they move at different rates. This leads to crazing or alligator skin in the finish over time.

The same thing will occur if a harder catalyzed finish is sprayed over a softer finish i.e. nitrocellulose lacquer.

I do know of a local guy that has had these issues and his story corroborates what has been told to me by the reps. (I doubt the reps sometimes because their job is to sell their stuff.)

I too have sprayed catalyzed lacquers over shellac but will do it no more. I have not seen how it has held up over time, the house I did it in has since been sold and that was in Ohio and I am in Montana.

It is not an issue that may show up right away, but I like to make my projects last longer than the legal requirements of 1 year for warranty (not implying you or anybody else does not.)

ML Campbell’s has a vinyl sealer is actually used in refinishing furniture that replaces shellac and has sealing characteristics with catalyzed finish compatibility.

mrfixitri-The brushable lacquer is softer and should actually be OK as it is a softer, more plyable finish than the catalyzed products.

What particularly caught my eye was your orange peel comment. As stated, that is a spraying problem, I think you are getting a fisheye effect on some level. Most likely this indicates one of the issues stated.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

View Ritty's profile

Ritty

63 posts in 1430 days


#9 posted 1305 days ago

i have never used shellac but when i built my grandma a stool for her kitchen i used lacquer and hinestly i put 4 coats on and it gave a really nice shiny smooth finish, hope i was able to help

View Ritty's profile

Ritty

63 posts in 1430 days


#10 posted 1305 days ago

of lacquer srry my computer is old and acting up

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8773 posts in 2733 days


#11 posted 1305 days ago

Asher – Many of my decisions are driven by the need to reduce my liability as a contractor.

I don’t deviate too far from directions when it comes to finishing products or manufacturers will not back me. I am sure you understand.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

View mrfixitri's profile

mrfixitri

53 posts in 1931 days


#12 posted 1304 days ago

Ok guys, the brushable lacquer did settle down and dried relatively flat. That much I’m satisfied with. HOWEVER, when looking very closely, I now see what appear to be fine hairs scattered throughout the finish, between one and one and a half inches long each. These “fibers” are not very close, but they are somewhat noticeable. I’m certain it was not anything foreign landing in the lacquer. Is this some sort of reaction between the lacquer and shellac? And will applying another coat of brushable lacquer get rid of the ‘hairs?’ Should I just strip it all off and start over? And if so, I presume I need to remove all traces of the shellac before applying anything else. Or…would a polyurethane work over the shellac if I removed all of the lacquer? Thanks a lot.

-- Larry, formerly of East Greenwich, RI - "Rhode Island's Oldest Home": http://www.circa1679.com

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8773 posts in 2733 days


#13 posted 1304 days ago

This is interesting. Is it distinctly a foreign particle or crackling in the finish?

Give us more information on location and drying circumstances/environment.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

View mrfixitri's profile

mrfixitri

53 posts in 1931 days


#14 posted 1304 days ago

There is nothing that landed on the wet finish to cause this. The effect is within the finish. If I can tunnel my way out to the woodshed tomorrow I’ll try to post a pic. It “looks” like fibers, or very thin hair sort of spread out. It’s not like alligatoring, or crackling. I’m familiar with both. Those ‘lines’ are connective and far more prevalent. These “fibers” are spread much further apart. Almost looks decorative. I’m totally baffled. I may try another thinned coat of the lacquer just to see if the fiber effect disappears. Either way, it’s a learning experience…

-- Larry, formerly of East Greenwich, RI - "Rhode Island's Oldest Home": http://www.circa1679.com

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8773 posts in 2733 days


#15 posted 1304 days ago

How much did you thin it?

I am wondering if you thinned it too much and for the volume there is not enough solids left so it shrinks as it dries.

I shoot precat lacquers in my shop and they dry at 58° to 60° with no problem in the winter. I don’t heat the shop anymore than I have to.

What is the temp in the area your project is drying?

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

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