Reply by Cosmicsniper

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Posted on Shellac as final finish?

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2202 posts in 3187 days

#1 posted 01-25-2013 05:43 PM


I think some people should be reminded of what high gloss really looks like. Brush on a shellac final coat and it WILL be glossy…but high gloss is kinda in the eye of the beholder. From there, any 0000 after the finish will rub out to lower sheens, so if you want super gloss, you have to buff it out to higher grits or polishing compounds. But a lot of the gloss can be achieved simply by spraying the final coat or using a fine cloth to “spirit off” the final coat.

If you want super high clarity in the finish, there is a certain amount of care you need to take early on in the process (think about the figure of a telescope mirror vs. the coatings themselves). This is because its not necessarily true that the more recent coat will melt into ALL the coats below it. So if the first coat had some issues, you need to take care of those issues because they might not be entirely fixed by the time you apply the 10th coat. In other words, shellac is great for its general friendliness and self-leveling capabilities, but for a true piano finish, there’s a reason why the French Polish technique is so tediously and rigidly followed. Clarify and sheen are simply two completely different things. I think this is what guys like Clint are trying to argue when they opine that sheen matters early on in the process whereas I would say that sheen is determined only by the final coat. For example, spray a cow turd with shellac and it will glisten in the sunlight. Rub it out with 0000 steel wool and it will be a well protected, satiny cow turd.

As far as paste wax, I use that for feel, which I think is as important in a project as looks. There’s just a different feeling of a shellac, poly, or lacquer finish and one that has wax on it. I don’t think it’s that big of deal to remove it…usually with mineral spirits or turpentine. If repair is ever needed, you would just remove the wax from the area to be repaired and then touch up that area. That’s the great part about shellac…you don’t have to strip the entire project, just touch up the part that needs it.

-- jay,

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