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View Nighttripper's profile

New to Shellac: Spray vs Brush

by Nighttripper
posted 08-27-2012 03:04 PM


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53 replies

53 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4449 posts in 3421 days


#1 posted 08-27-2012 03:07 PM

I’ve done both brush and spray, and find that spraying (for me) is easier. Practice first.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3928 posts in 1954 days


#2 posted 08-27-2012 03:10 PM

Did you consider padding? On pieces that don’t have a lot of details (like moldings, etc.) it may be the easiest. I can spray shellac, and I can pad it (and french polish…which is padding with 5X the work). But put a brush and jar of shellac in my hand and I can ruin a project faster than with any other finish. So, brush if you want…but be sure to practice (a lot) on scraps before you start on your Tea Box. BTW, if you choose to brush, dedicate one to shellac service, adn don’t bother cleaning it after use. Shellac only turns hard, so before the next use put the brush in some DNA for maybe 15 minutes and VIOLA, you are ready to go. (I’m pretty sure there is suppose to be an accent mark in that word somewhere).

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

115202 posts in 3038 days


#3 posted 08-27-2012 03:16 PM

I like spraying shellac. It takes some practice. If you have a spray gun you can practice by spray water first on some cardboard. Shellac does come in a rattle can. Make sure you use dewaxed shellac that way if you decide to put another finish over it.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Nighttripper's profile

Nighttripper

41 posts in 1628 days


#4 posted 08-27-2012 03:25 PM

Thanks for the fast responses guys….I guess the verdict is in….spraying it is.

Now just have to hope for good temp/humidity next weekend here in NJ. I really hope to have some great pics to post when finished.

View Earlextech's profile

Earlextech

1159 posts in 2151 days


#5 posted 08-27-2012 03:36 PM

Spray it! Obviously.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

5989 posts in 1789 days


#6 posted 08-27-2012 03:38 PM

Either way you go, just don’t get your coffee cans mixed up and use water to “clean up” your equipment…

or you’ll get a first hand introduction to the great white gum monster.

Don’t ask me how I know this.

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View Loren's profile

Loren

8295 posts in 3109 days


#7 posted 08-27-2012 05:05 PM

I would brush or pad it on. Spraying is messy and wastes
finish. If you are already experienced with spray equipment
that could influence your choice though.

Shellac is forgiving actually. French polishing where the
shellac is compressed with friction and pressure using
oil as a lubricant in later coats is a challenging technique
to learn, but you don’t have to do a french polish to
get excellent results with shellac. You can just brush
or wipe it on, sand lightly between coats, and build it
up like most other film finishes.

View NiteWalker's profile

NiteWalker

2735 posts in 2038 days


#8 posted 08-27-2012 05:10 PM

Spray on most projects; wipe on smaller ones.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2893 posts in 1709 days


#9 posted 08-27-2012 05:17 PM

I’m with Loren on this one. I think shellac is one of the most forgiving finishes. Wipe or brush it on and and sand lightly while building it up. I am pretty good with an HVLP gun but try to avoid spraying finish. It makes way too much of a mess.

-- https://pinepointwoodworks.wordpress.com/

View Nighttripper's profile

Nighttripper

41 posts in 1628 days


#10 posted 08-27-2012 06:45 PM

In terms of appearance only (Sheen, Depth, Clarity), and not Protection/Durability or Speed, do you all think that shellac is worth it relative to the ease of say a GF Arm R Seal ??

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

4853 posts in 2274 days


#11 posted 08-27-2012 07:12 PM

A really bad spray gun is better than a really good brush.

Get a Woodriver gravity-feed HVLP and spend a Saturday learning to spray. You won’t regret it.
The gun costs $30.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View jmos's profile

jmos

735 posts in 1830 days


#12 posted 08-27-2012 07:20 PM

I’ve had good luck brushing and padding shellac. My shop is in the basement so I really don’t have the option to spray. If I did, I would probably try it, but brushing is a lot less mess and waste.

I found the Gramercy shellac brush work great http://www.toolsforworkingwood.com/store/dept/CGT/item/GT-SHEBRU.XX/Gramercy_Tools_Finishing_Brushes_for_Shellac_and_Lacquer

I like the fact you can clean up with ammonia too.

-- John

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

2322 posts in 1757 days


#13 posted 08-27-2012 07:24 PM

Brush. Do you want the piece to look handcrafted or like it came from a factory? Do three coats and when done rub with 0000 steel wool and use pastewax. Shellac dries in minutes depending on how old it is and the humdity, so you can be done in a couple of hours, including the drying time. Clean you brush in alcohol when done.

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2893 posts in 1709 days


#14 posted 08-27-2012 08:17 PM

Nighttripper, I actually get better results brushing shellac than I get with Arm-R-Seal. Me and polyurethane don’t get along well though. For things that get handled a lot, like a box, I hate using poly. It makes the piece feel like plastic to me, not wood. I would use some shellac then maybe spray a coat of lacquer on after, or just simply do what dhazelton said. I generally rub out my finishes with wax applied with 0000 steel wool.

-- https://pinepointwoodworks.wordpress.com/

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

14940 posts in 2151 days


#15 posted 08-28-2012 02:04 AM

I always brush my shellac and it results in a great finish, easy to apply, dries fast providing you follow a few rules: I dilute my Zinsser Bullseye shellac 1:1 with denatured alcohol, use a good quality brush, DO NOT OVERBRUSH, sand between coats with 220-400 grit. I use Ammonia cleaner to clean my brushes (Much cheaper than DNA and reusable almost indefinately)

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Alongiron's profile

Alongiron

567 posts in 2154 days


#16 posted 08-28-2012 02:57 AM

I use shellac on all my projects using a $0.49 foam brush from the hardware store. Brush on 2 light coats followed by a light sanding with 1000 grit sandpaper. Apply 1 more coat using the same sandpaper you just used; which makes it like 1500 grit….1 or 2 coats of paste wax and you have a beautiful smooth finish for many years to come.

-- Measure twice and cut once.....Steve Lien

View shipwright's profile

shipwright

7165 posts in 2259 days


#17 posted 08-28-2012 04:59 AM

Learn to french polish. You won’t regret it. The results will blow you away.
It’s not that hard but you can’t learn it from reading about it, you have to be shown.
Enter youtube. There are some great videos that do a very good job of explaining and showing the process.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees. http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

View Nighttripper's profile

Nighttripper

41 posts in 1628 days


#18 posted 08-28-2012 12:50 PM

Thanks Everyone for the replies!

View Ironman50's profile

Ironman50

39 posts in 1642 days


#19 posted 08-28-2012 02:02 PM

I am comfortable with spraying since Shellac dries up quickly.

View Roadcruzer's profile

Roadcruzer

14 posts in 74 days


#20 posted 09-21-2016 01:16 AM

I am new to this formam and have been reading this post. My question is I am redoing a vintage camper with brand-new birch paneling in it I didn’t really want to brush it as there’s lots of paneling to brush but I’m worried about spring shellac due to the overspray do you think I can spray without getting overspray on everything ? I have did tons of spraying with H VLP sprayers I have a harbor freight sprayer I also have a $300 auto sprayer so I am pretty confident I can lay on a good finish with the exception of the overspray . What do you all think ??

View jwmalone's profile

jwmalone

769 posts in 163 days


#21 posted 09-21-2016 01:31 AM

Brush, and you don’t need a high dollar brush just a good one. No shellac finish in my opinion looks good until you rub it out. Then its beautiful. Plenty of videos on the subject. So if you’re going to rub it out, doesn’t really matter how you get it on there.
gfadvm has good advice, only I don’t cut mine, but look at 10 different nice shellac finishes and you might get 10 response on how they done it? Just follow the basic rules. Nice choice with the poplar, if done correctly its beautiful, the stuff is under rated I think.

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

View Roadcruzer's profile

Roadcruzer

14 posts in 74 days


#22 posted 09-21-2016 02:05 PM

Thanks a lot for the response when you say rabbit out are you talking like a French polish ? The shellac thing is a brand-new thing for me

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

7143 posts in 2375 days


#23 posted 09-21-2016 02:26 PM

Nighttripper,
Many of the folks who advised me ~3yr ago are already in this thread and giving great advice!

Here is what they helped me do when I started shellacking. And yes, it is a learning curve:
http://lumberjocks.com/projects/78752

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View jwmalone's profile

jwmalone

769 posts in 163 days


#24 posted 09-21-2016 03:14 PM


Thanks a lot for the response when you say rabbit out are you talking like a French polish ? The shellac thing is a brand-new thing for me

- Roadcruzer


No sir, not a French polish. Just rub it out with mineral oil and super fine paper.

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

View Roadcruzer's profile

Roadcruzer

14 posts in 74 days


#25 posted 09-21-2016 04:56 PM

So it sounds like you’re more wet sanding it for the final finish using mineral oil and then wipe off the oil correct ?

View jwmalone's profile

jwmalone

769 posts in 163 days


#26 posted 09-21-2016 05:48 PM

So it sounds like you re more wet sanding it for the final finish using mineral oil and then wipe off the oil correct ?

- Roadcruzer


Yes sir, its a very old school method like I said there are tons of free videos. You use the oil as a lubricant while sanding with your paper to finer and finer degrees, its not hard to remove all the shellac so be care full. The difference between hand rubbed and spayed on finish is striking.
http://www.woodwrecker.com/woodworking/how-to/shellacrubout.shtml

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

View ki7hy's profile

ki7hy

493 posts in 200 days


#27 posted 09-21-2016 06:13 PM

I love Shellac. Use it more than anything else. I usually brush it on and then I’ll sand with 600 grit very lightly then do steel wool. I usually use 0000 steel wool but bought 000 last time by mistake and it doesn’t seem to matter much.

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1056 posts in 1450 days


#28 posted 09-21-2016 06:42 PM

Combination of spray and pad/French polish. Spray to get enough film thickness, then pad to smooth to a glass finish. Much faster than padding alone.

View Roadcruzer's profile

Roadcruzer

14 posts in 74 days


#29 posted 09-22-2016 12:43 PM

Since I’ve never applied shellac and know it dries real quick I am worried about even wiping it and leaving streaks doing large areas on the paneling. I like your idea of spraying and then sanding but do you think the overspray will be a problem since I am doing an enclosed whole trailer 13 ft . It seems like if I sprayed and got overspray on the other dried areas in there it would send off with hand sanding you think it would work ?
I also want to thank everyone for your comments as I have a ton of work rebuilding this trailer and the last thing I want to do is screw up my finish on the inside !

View jwmalone's profile

jwmalone

769 posts in 163 days


#30 posted 09-22-2016 01:31 PM

Spraying makes a mess.. When you wipe in on it always looks bad until you rub it out,

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

View Roadcruzer's profile

Roadcruzer

14 posts in 74 days


#31 posted 09-23-2016 01:03 AM

So if I use bull’s-eye amber shellac out of the can should I thin it more when I’m doing my paneling to wipe on or as far as that goes if I decide to spray ?

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1056 posts in 1450 days


#32 posted 09-23-2016 01:44 AM

Bull’s eye amber is a 3# cut waxed shellac. As long as you don’t plan to top coat with anything else, a waxed shellac is fine. Here is an excellent article on shellac by Jeff Jewitt that should answer all of your questions.

View jwmalone's profile

jwmalone

769 posts in 163 days


#33 posted 09-23-2016 01:47 AM

Well Mr. Cruzer ill give ya my Grandpas advice. Some times a man has to take into consideration the advice of others and his training…. then prime his weapon, lace them boots up tight, cinch up the ole apple sacks and hit the f@#$ing beach. LOL that’s why I keep recommending rubbing it out its fool proof, don’t over analyze it you’ll do a great job I’m sure.

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

View Roadcruzer's profile

Roadcruzer

14 posts in 74 days


#34 posted 09-23-2016 12:47 PM

You couldn’t of said it much better sir thanks for the advice !

View bigideaslittleskills's profile

bigideaslittleskills

1 post in 72 days


#35 posted 09-23-2016 02:21 PM

I watched a video, where the builder used a brush dipped in a thinner to start. Used 4 coats, then sanded to a smooth finish cleaned the item ( a chess board) then applied 7 coats of lacquer finish then polished with high grit paper from 800 up to 1500 then used a powder…..in the end it looked like a mirror…a lot of hand work time laps on video was about 40 hours of sanding to get the polished finish….....

View Roadcruzer's profile

Roadcruzer

14 posts in 74 days


#36 posted 09-23-2016 04:14 PM

Easy to do on a little chest table but I have a whole trailer to do don’t think that will be my way !

View CharlesNeil's profile

CharlesNeil

1610 posts in 3331 days


#37 posted 09-23-2016 05:56 PM

Spraying cures so many ills, it just cant be beat, once you take the time to learn how,

View Roadcruzer's profile

Roadcruzer

14 posts in 74 days


#38 posted 09-23-2016 10:02 PM

I already know how to spray but my concern was spraying in this little box trailer with a few open window holes and doing the walls and ceiling and everything and it drying so quick how much overspray what I have to deal with

View ki7hy's profile

ki7hy

493 posts in 200 days


#39 posted 09-23-2016 10:11 PM

View jwmalone's profile

jwmalone

769 posts in 163 days


#40 posted 09-23-2016 10:17 PM



You could always do this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EalqlDjTnPw

- ki7hy


I’m going to try that one day

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

View Roadcruzer's profile

Roadcruzer

14 posts in 74 days


#41 posted 09-27-2016 12:56 PM

Don’t think I’ll try that one but with your expertise in this if I’m going to do the hard wiping deal could you do the math for me to change the 3 pound cut to a 2 pound and a one and a half pound how many ounces what I mixed with a court for each ? I’ve included a pic when I’m getting into .

View Roadcruzer's profile

Roadcruzer

14 posts in 74 days


#42 posted 09-27-2016 01:24 PM

As you can probably tell I’m using voice recognition which doesn’t work that well !

View DrDirt's profile

DrDirt

4167 posts in 3203 days


#43 posted 09-27-2016 02:12 PM

for just a small tea box… why not just get a rattle can of Shellac?

-- 'Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners' ~George Carlin

View Planeman40's profile

Planeman40

805 posts in 2222 days


#44 posted 09-27-2016 02:13 PM

I was working once again with shellac yesterday. My favorite finish.

I have always brushed it on. Never have sprayed. I mix my own shellac from the raw shellac buds and strain it through a wad of women’s nylon hose. Works fine. I find the following procedure works best for me to get a glass smooth finish on closed pore woods like maple.

Apply stain or dye, let dry. Wipe with damp rag (water) to raise the grain, let dry. Do not sand at this point. Apply a coat of shellac. Let dry. Do not sand. Apply 2nd coat of shellac. Let dry very well. Sand.

At this point I want to emphasize how to sand. The 2nd coat of shellac should give you a somewhat shiny surface with a lot of rough spots. Use a strong light and sand, watching the gloss disappear as you sand. The sanded areas will become rough and scratched and any low spots and pores will show up as little bright shiny spots that still need to be sanded. Keep watching the surface gloss disappear and sand until there are no glossy spots. At this point your surface will be leveled.

On flat surfaces, I often scrape the surface with a single-edge razor blade instead of sanding. Use a sharp one right out of the box. Works wonders! Try it!.

Now apply two more coats of shellac, one after the other. Let dry VERY well, like over night. The surface will be glossy again. Sand with fine sand paper until once again there are NO glossy spots when viewed in a strong light (I often use a magnifying visor at this point to really see the surface). Next rub down with 0000 (four ought) steel wool, the finest grade. You will begin to get a sheen to the surface. Keep rubbing until you have this sheen all over.

This next step is important. Use a piece of paper towel to buff the surface to a nice shiny glow. Apply a light pressure when doing so. This is called “burnishing”. This will give you a satin gloss that is nice for furniture finishes.

If you want a hard gloss, apply a slow drying high gloss polyurethane with a fine brush (I use large wide artist brushes. House paint brushes are too coarse). A slow drying paint allows time for the paint to level out and settle to a beautiful mirror gloss finish. Let it dry for a full day before handling. No further polishing needed.

As shellac is thinned with alcohol, be aware that if used on furniture it will dissolve if an alcoholic drink is spilled on it. It is also subject to spotting if water is left on it. Other than that, Its a great finish as is for furniture. To avoid these problems, apply a durable coating over it like polyurethane.

Planeman

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

2281 posts in 1830 days


#45 posted 09-27-2016 02:23 PM

This may be a dumb question, but does one need to take more spraying precautions since the shellac is alcohol-based, and thus flammable? I’ve had good results with spraying, but only ever WB finishes.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View Roadcruzer's profile

Roadcruzer

14 posts in 74 days


#46 posted 09-27-2016 09:00 PM

I am using Zinser waxed shellac in amber for my camper trailer as in the pick a couple post above . you mentioned putting a final coat of polyurethane over it for a more durable finish but what I’ve been reading you cannot put polyurethane over a waxed shellac

View Roadcruzer's profile

Roadcruzer

14 posts in 74 days


#47 posted 09-27-2016 09:00 PM

Not sure what Dr. dirt was talking about a small Teebox ?? Using spray shellac out if I can doing a whole interior of paneling in the camper which is Birch paneling

View Planeman40's profile

Planeman40

805 posts in 2222 days


#48 posted 09-27-2016 11:18 PM

”you cannot put polyurethane over a waxed shellac”

So far I have never knowingly used a “waxed” shellac. I do know what I have used (polyurethane) works well over the shellac I have used. As I stated above, I buy raw shellac in solid form (little hard beads) that have come straight off the tree. It has bits of tree bark and shellac bugs in it and that us why you have to strain it. Raw shellac is much cheaper and as a solid it stores for a long time without deteriorating. I keep it in a large glass jar with a cap on it. You just pour some beads in a jar and add some denatured alcohol and let it sit for a while. After it is dissolved, I make a paper funnel and cut the tip off it. I then take a small wad of women’s nylon hose and stuff it into the hole, pulling some of it through. The multiple layers of nylon hose makes a good strainer. When done, just toss the paper funnel in the trash.

You can speed up the dissolving by swishing the mixture around in the jar. You can read all about shellac on the Internet.

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View DrDirt's profile

DrDirt

4167 posts in 3203 days


#49 posted 09-29-2016 01:55 AM

Not sure what Dr. dirt was talking about a small Teebox ?? Using spray shellac out if I can doing a whole interior of paneling in the camper which is Birch paneling

- Roadcruzer


His project is a TEA box (you know the kind you drink)

so my question is that why would you go buy a spray gun and the rest, when a 7 dollar can will easily take care of the project which would be 1/2 the size of a shoebox. For a project that small I would use a rattle can before I would drag out my HVLP gun and listen to the noisy compressor drone…. just to avoid the hassle or clean-up

-- 'Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners' ~George Carlin

View Roadcruzer's profile

Roadcruzer

14 posts in 74 days


#50 posted 10-04-2016 06:38 PM

OK you shellacer,s out there want to thank you for the previous help I now have three coats on there at about a one and a half one and three-quarter cut of the Zinzers amber shellac I sanded with 200 grit lightly after the second coat and now I have the third coat on what do you suggest now ? I have been using the wiping process which now my right arm is bigger than my left ! Paneling is smooths but still feels a little grainy. wondering if I should go for strength through a 3 pound cut and wipe on was thinking of sanding with 400 grit after the third coat and before the fourth what you all think ??

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