Reply by Loren

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Posted on Trying to get a mirror finish with shellac

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10476 posts in 3671 days

#1 posted 10-15-2012 03:52 AM

I think this is an application problem. Maybe with your brush
or spray method.

I recommend french polishing. It is something you can do
sort of halfway, like a wiping varnish, to build up coats.

That said, you can french polish over any shellacked surface
and the alcohol will “melt” the layers together. It’s the
pressure of the “rubber” (fr. “tampon”) than compresses
the finish and makes it smooth and lustrous. As more
coats build, friction happens and the finish can tear
up, which is a hassle to repair. So we add a little oil
to lubricate the rubber and this helps it slide and not
tear the finish. Then when the polish is done the
oil finds it way to the surface as the shellac cures
and after awhile you can “spirit off” the oil with
alcohol on a clean rubber.

It’s really not that hard to do but it does take time
and when you are learning you will not have a feel
for when to add some oil and you’ll tear the finish
sooner or later.

This is my understanding from experience. While I
don’t consider my skills at french polish any more than
capable-level, I learned pretty quick how not to
tear the shellac and that is the major hazard. Everything
else about it is forgiving.

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