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Shellac Flakes and Alcohol

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Forum topic by Pete Mohr posted 07-27-2010 03:47 PM 4389 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Pete Mohr

75 posts in 1742 days


07-27-2010 03:47 PM

Does the quality of alcohol make a difference in dissolving shellac flakes? I’ve been using DNA from the BORG and have gotten poor results. (as in the flakes don’t dissolve thoroughly). I’ve ground the flakes and stirred regularly, but no go. I don’t know if it’s the flakes or the alcohol. Woodcraft sells “Pure Anhydrous Alcohol. Is it worth the extra $$$ (14.99/qt)?

pete

-- "Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another." -Anatole France


19 replies so far

View miserybob's profile

miserybob

88 posts in 1698 days


#1 posted 07-27-2010 03:57 PM

I put mine in a mason jar and shake the living heck out of it, on and off for about an hour or so. Sometimes those flakes (I grind mine in a coffee grinder first) don’t want to dissolve… Keep at it, they’ll go eventually (as long as the shellac is fresh).

As far as I know, you can use any sufficiently pure alcohol – even Everclear (it’ll just cost you twice as much in taxes!). Your DNA should be fine (as long as you’re talking about Denatured Alcohol… I’m in no position to judge your deoxyribonucleic acid… lol).

View JimDaddyO's profile

JimDaddyO

287 posts in 1732 days


#2 posted 07-27-2010 04:15 PM

Alcohol is hard to come by in Canada, at least the shellac mixing kind. I successfully use Methyl Hydrate that I get at the local hardware store. I too use a coffee grinder on the flakes first. Mix up a 1# cut in a mason jar, shake it up every once in a while, by the next day it is all disolved.

-- I still have all my fingers

View QuangFromCalgary's profile

QuangFromCalgary

25 posts in 1652 days


#3 posted 07-27-2010 05:21 PM

The shellac resolves slowly in alcohol. It may take couple of days for it to resolve completely. In Canada, I buy Isopropyl alcohol 99% to mix the shellac. They don’t sell DNA in Alberta but Methyl Hydrate (much more toxic) is readily available.
Shellac takes more time to resolve in alcohol but it does not evaporate as quickly as Methyl Hydrate when you apply it (which is nice).

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AaronK

1397 posts in 2118 days


#4 posted 07-27-2010 05:33 PM

ive never actually done this, but I’m also a chemical engineer, so i know something about solvents: make sure the alcohol you get from the borg is close to 100%. usually the balance is water, so if it’s 70% you might have problems. they should all be adequate grades for shellac, since impurities just tend to be other volatiles in very small amounts. usually other types of alcohols like methanol, propanol and butanol, all of which will work just fine with shellac.

View hObOmOnk's profile

hObOmOnk

1381 posts in 2781 days


#5 posted 07-27-2010 11:41 PM

In Canada, methyl hydrate is the same as methanol (wood alcohol).

Denatured alcohol will work well as long as the water count is very low.

A blended ethanol, with other alcohols, product for shellac is available under the name Behlen Behkol.
It’s okay. Around here it sells for about $12.00/qt.

-- 温故知新

View SnowyRiver's profile

SnowyRiver

51451 posts in 2134 days


#6 posted 07-28-2010 02:38 AM

I use denatured alcohol, but even though it appears to disolve quickly, it does take a bit. I usually shake it up good, then let it sit for a day or so before using. Then mix well again just before applying.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

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Alan Van Art

6 posts in 1516 days


#7 posted 07-28-2010 03:10 PM

I echo the 99% Isopropyl, but it can be difficult to get. Last time I used shellac flakes I ground them using a mortar & pestle. Great way to use an old turning project!

-- Alan Van Art

View brunob's profile

brunob

2275 posts in 2823 days


#8 posted 07-28-2010 03:22 PM

I use the Behlen product but any denatured alcohol works for me. I (like others) grind the flakes in a coffee grinder. Shake the jar several times over 24 hours.

-- Bruce from Central New York...now, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View mnguy's profile

mnguy

161 posts in 2051 days


#9 posted 07-28-2010 03:27 PM

Pete, standard DNA is likely ~95% ethanol, with the balance being water with a few other alcohols (like AaronK said). This is because most industrial alcohol is made from corn (or sugar cane, etc.), and it takes extra processing to remove the last 5% of water, which adds cost (I’m a chemical engineer, too). The anhydrous ethanol shouldn’t have a much different effect as a shellac solvent.

View Roper's profile

Roper

1359 posts in 2366 days


#10 posted 07-28-2010 03:49 PM

i use everclear or some local moonshine to mix mine,no water in that alcohol so all the shellac desolves.it does cost alittle more but seems to work better.

-- Roper - Master of sawdust- www.roperwoodturning.com

View mnguy's profile

mnguy

161 posts in 2051 days


#11 posted 07-28-2010 05:00 PM

Actually, Everclear and moonshine typically will have higher water content than industrial alcohol, especially moonshine. Through conventional distillation, you can’t get more pure than ~95% ethanol. To do better than that, you need something to ‘break the azeotrope’ – get the water to come out, if you will.

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

3777 posts in 2316 days


#12 posted 07-28-2010 08:48 PM

I have had excellent results with the denatured alcohol they sell in the paint department at Menards. Never tried mixing it with anything else (unless you count the Miller Lite in me while I am mixing it! LOL).

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View SouthpawCA's profile

SouthpawCA

254 posts in 1886 days


#13 posted 07-28-2010 09:33 PM

I’ve had real good luck with denatured alcohol from the local Ace hardware. I also grind the flakes into dust using a coffee grinder and then stir it a number of times before actually using it which is at least a day or so after mixing. Has anyone purchased shellac flakes or DNA from shellac.net – just wondering?

-- Don

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TheDane

3777 posts in 2316 days


#14 posted 07-28-2010 09:35 PM

Ditto on the coffee grinder.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Pete Mohr's profile

Pete Mohr

75 posts in 1742 days


#15 posted 07-28-2010 10:39 PM

Just an update . . .
I went to Woodcraft and took a look at Flexners Finishing book. He agrees that plane old DNA is fine. No need to spend extra for the fancy stuff. I also bought a new bag of flakes and they dissolved just fine. So the bottom line is my old bag of flakes flaked out. :-((

pete

-- "Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another." -Anatole France

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