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question: how to finish small pieces

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Forum topic by W1ngnu7 posted 2519 days ago 1369 views 1 time favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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W1ngnu7

27 posts in 2551 days


2519 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: finish shellac

Hello everyone,

I have a question about finishing. I am making some drink coasters, just small wooden disks, and am having a difficult time with the finishing. I’m using an amber shellac and no matter how I try to apply it, i get dripping over the edge, or onto the underside, or it sticks the piece to the bench. I need to be able to hold it while I brush it but then I have nothing to hold in order to brush where my fingers were. Can you give me an idea of how you would apply the finish? Thanks for the help.

Joey

-- W1ngnu7


19 replies so far

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12262 posts in 2729 days


#1 posted 2519 days ago

I belive David has a solution for this on a larger scale. Perhaps a board with nails poking through. The item goes on the nails….

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

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frank

1492 posts in 2838 days


#2 posted 2519 days ago

Hi Joey;
....so tell me what’s the cut on the shellac your using or is it straight out of a can?

Also since these are drink coasters and therefore there will be condensation….you will need to cover the shallac with an-other finish also. Now please don’t get me wrong here, as there’s nothing wrong with a base of shellac, ( I use shellac also)....nice color to the wood, it’s just that the shellac will not stand up to the drinks or condensation.

Once I find out about the cut or straight out of can we can then proceed with what to do with those ‘drips’. Did you know the drips can be removed with denatured alcohol?

Thank you.
GODSPEED,
Frank

-- --frank, NH, http://rusticwoodart.tumblr.com/

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W1ngnu7

27 posts in 2551 days


#3 posted 2519 days ago

That’s a good idea for the first coat but I’m kind of looking to see how smooth of a finish I can get after a few layers and I’d hate to put divots in it.

-- W1ngnu7

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W1ngnu7

27 posts in 2551 days


#4 posted 2519 days ago

It is straight out of a can. I’ve kind of tried re-melting the shellac drips with the next coat and blend it in again and have gotten mixed results. Wouldn’t using denatured alcohol work kind of the same way? How do you remove just the excess drip but leave the right amount of shellac behind?

-- W1ngnu7

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frank

1492 posts in 2838 days


#5 posted 2519 days ago

—-first off, is that if you will cut the shellac with the alcohol, you will find that the shellac dries much….much faster,so you are not going to be getting the drips. Yes the shellac is thinner now and so it will dry much faster.

I sometimes will do several coasters after this fashion in multiple coats on one side and the edge….just be sure and place an object smaller then the diameter of the coaster under the the coaster and brush the shellac on. All tops on one side and edge, and by the time you’ve did them all, you should be able to flip them over and do the other side….that’s the good point about cut shellac, it dries so fast. Then I start over and do some more cuts.

I remove the excess with a brush dipped in alcohol, brush the edge….let brush and edge start to stiffen and come back into the surface with the brush. By the way, I use those cheap brushes that are made in China….you know, 59 cents…..they really are great!

What type of finish are you going to put on top of the shellac?

Thank you.
GODSPEED,
Frank

-- --frank, NH, http://rusticwoodart.tumblr.com/

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W1ngnu7

27 posts in 2551 days


#6 posted 2519 days ago

OK Frank, Thanks. That makes sense. I didn’t know I needed anything on top of the shellac until you mentioned it. What do you suggest? I like the color I’m getting now so something clear.

-- W1ngnu7

View frank's profile

frank

1492 posts in 2838 days


#7 posted 2519 days ago

—-one more question here Joey;

Do you know how to cut the shellac, so as to speed up drying time and get a good finish!

Thank you.
GODSPEED,
Frank

-- --frank, NH, http://rusticwoodart.tumblr.com/

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W1ngnu7

27 posts in 2551 days


#8 posted 2519 days ago

The shellac I’m using is already a 3lb cut. Just thin it out with den alcohol. Is there more to it?

-- W1ngnu7

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frank

1492 posts in 2838 days


#9 posted 2519 days ago

Hello Joey;

Yes, as I was saying….I use a lot of shellac in finishing my pieces, but I will usually use a shellac that has more color such as the orange and garnett, which is a shade of red. The amber really does not have much color and is used more for a universal sanding sealer. I use the amber a lot when making oak countertops and also where the customer does not want to add color to the wood, such as older refinished maple floors. Then I will go for the topcoats which add protection.

There is a big division among woodworkers that divides on the point of de-waxed shellac and waxed shellac, however in all my years of working with shellac I have never had a problem with shellac. The short of the story is, if you want to be safe because that what’s everyone says you should do, use de-waxed shellac and topcoat with poly….I have used also the waxed shellac in hot tub sun rooms on the wainscoting, sanded between coats and this is the key—-preparation and sanding, before the next couple of coats of oil poly. And I am glad to say that I have never had the poly peel off in all my years of finishing. But remember, all finishing is about preparation and that’s were most problems come in since by the time we get to the finishing stage, it’s like let’s take a shortcut and forget the sanding and preparation. After all, preparation is 80% of finishing….

So there you have it, if you want to be safe….de-waxed and then oil poly….but for coaster’s I usually use waxed orange or garnett and sand real good with a couple of more coats of oil poly….

Thank you.
GODSPEED,
Frank

-- --frank, NH, http://rusticwoodart.tumblr.com/

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W1ngnu7

27 posts in 2551 days


#10 posted 2519 days ago

Thanks for the help Frank.

-- W1ngnu7

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frank

1492 posts in 2838 days


#11 posted 2519 days ago

——here’s a great read I wrote on shellac some time ago;

Rustic Business Card Holder

I have used most often, orange//amber and then there are the blondes and garnet, also I like especially color tinting and shading to my own wants.

One can use the flakes, however over the years I have found it just as easy to use premixed such as Zinsser Bulls Eye Shellac and then cut to a 1-1/2 lb.cut. These can be done in multiple coats and many over the course of a day. Then allow to dry fully. One can then apply one or two coats of Zinsser Bulls Eye Seal Coat Universal Sanding Sealer. The Seal Coat is already premixed at a 2 lb. cut and is also 100% wax free.

Over the years, (20 or so) I and others in finishing have talked and debated about waxed and de-waxed, mixing flakes, using premixed and not stirring so the wax settles and then decanting or pouring off the top and topcoating with varnish and polys and in all the talking I have learned that proper preparation is the best course of action. This is one of the reasons I do so many test pieces, I have test pieces of wood all over that are labled with what went on them and then I am always playing with new scenarios on them and in all this I am still learning. I have used waxed shellac under varnish and polys and I have never seen a bonding failure, but then I always practice ‘preparation’ which means proper scuffing of all the previous surface finish and I believe that ‘preparation’ is the key.

Having said all this, it still remains that even with the use of de-waxed shellac under varnish and not understanding and practicing ‘proper preparation’, you will still run the risk of bonding failure. The lack of preparation of any wood surface before first application of finish and the lack of ‘proper preparation’ in between coats has to my estimation probably caused more bonding failures then all the time spent in trying to save some time by cutting ‘preparation corners’.

Now again having said that, I have found that by applying Zinsser Bulls Eye Seal Coat Universal Sanding Sealer, as a pre-finish bond coat, over the pre-mixed waxed is a sure fine way to go. And then again you can always use the flakes and go with de-waxed.

If I am not using a topcoat of varnish then I always go with the waxed shellac.

Still liking shellac after all these years!!!
Thank you for your question and comment….
GODSPEED,
Frank

-- --frank, NH, http://rusticwoodart.tumblr.com/

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

3963 posts in 2695 days


#12 posted 2519 days ago

The nailboard is the way to go. Use brads real “put them in with a hammer” brads, not nail gun ones. The shot nails have a chisel tip, finishing brads have a triangular point.
I recommend padding on the shellac with a rubber, rather than a brush. Less drips. Old cotton bedsheet material is best, thin used up sheets you could put your foot through, but 100% cotton white t-shirt material works well too. You make a wad of folded over material in the center of a square of the outer material. Moisten the wad (which is folded over and has no seam or wrinkle on it’s face) with denatured alcohol. Wring it out. Put it in the outer material and fold the corners across one another diagonally. Twist the top into a handle which you scrunch into your palm. Then you can charge the rubber from the bottom by dipping into a container of shellac, or (neater) squeeze shellac into the bottom of the rubber from a small squeeze bottle. Wipe it on. Let it dry. Flatten after three coats with P320 grit sand paper. Carefully and lightly apply a final coat if you are going to be just using shellac, but I think Frank is right on with the oil based poly varnish if it’s for coasters. Hard paste wax at the end will aid keeping the finish nice, and can be easily renewed in the home setting or by your buyers.

Some folks have a technique of flying the rubber into the edge of the piece a little. Imagine a plane that is practicing touch and go landings. Zoom in, just inside the leading edge of the workpiece and begin to lift before you reach the end of the piece. This cuts down on the drips. Slightly overlap your “runways” for even coverage. Oh, and seal the edges first will keep finish from making a darker place from any dribble you might encounter. Not as important with finishes like shellac that “burn in” to the previous coat, but generally a good practice all-in-all.

Finally like Frank I heartily endorse Zinnser SealCoat. Nothing I finish (except the odd Danish Oiled piece) leaves the shop with out at lease a first coat of this stuff. Good for pre-coating spray waterborne lacquers to warm up the wood and prevent grain-raising with the first coat. Good as a finish on it’s own for non-water exposed applications.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

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frank

1492 posts in 2838 days


#13 posted 2519 days ago

hi Douglas;
—-I understand what your saying here but still….don’t you think that zoomin’ in is a little overkill for the diameter of a small piece of wooden disk? Seems like that as soon as I’ve zoomed in and touched down, I had better be taking off. Rubbers and boots work great on some-thing of size, ( table tops and cabinets) but we’re only talking small coasters here. Also a lot of the coasters I do, are small pieces of wood with the bark still on, so how do I rubber in the crevices?

Also when you say; ”....but I think Frank is right on with the oil based poly varnish if it’s for coasters.”

Well I don’t have to think I’m right, I’ve been doing this for over twenty years and I have finished many pieces of furniture, ‘wood art’ and home renovations which include kitchens and bathrooms. I also have had no problems or bonding issues yet by the way….have you tried the poly or varnish on top of waxed and de-waxed shellac?

Thank you.
GODSPEED,
Frank

-- --frank, NH, http://rusticwoodart.tumblr.com/

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

3963 posts in 2695 days


#14 posted 2518 days ago

Frank,
Just trying to point out that a brush might not be the way to go, and to not trail off so hard on the far edge if dripping was occurring. I just don’t brush so well, and would have recommended spraying the batch, but didn’t want to lead down that path since no mention was made of access to the equipment.

I must have been unclear in that I was talking about sealing with the Zinsser Sealcoat before overcoating with poly. I think we are on the same page there.

Douglas

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Woodminer's profile

Woodminer

69 posts in 2569 days


#15 posted 2518 days ago

Why are you using shellac with drink coaster?? Frank is on the right track.

Shellac with its alcohol base is NOT water friendly. Remember the nasty white rings on coffee tables and pianos and such? Shellac based finishes usually. Also does not like heat very much, either.

Couple of coats of any of the poly brothers is a better utility finish for where you’re going. You could do overkill with epoxy or salad bowl finish or some other nearly industrial strength things, but a good, inexpensive way to roll is poly. IMHO.

-- Dean, Missouri

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