Leveling Shellac

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Forum topic by thiel posted 09-22-2010 02:34 AM 2278 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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374 posts in 2714 days

09-22-2010 02:34 AM

Odd question: has anyone (besides me?) ever thought of washing down a shellacked piece with denatured alcholol, to knock back the shine and level the finish?

I recently coated a piece with way to thick “right out of the can” shellac….. and when I was working out the sags with DNA, this thought occurred to me.

Crazy? Thoughts?

-- Laziness minus Apathy equals Efficiency

7 replies so far

View barryvabeach's profile


159 posts in 2466 days

#1 posted 09-22-2010 02:37 AM

One method of finishing is called French Polish, which uses a rag with thinned shellac, since it has so much thinner in it is does something similar. I have seen Mack Headley of Colonial Williamsburg put some very thinned shellac on a rag ( maybe 1 pound cut ) and use it “pull” the finish smooth. I suggest you trying sanding it level and wipe on a 1 pound cut and see how it works out.

View blackcherry's profile


3292 posts in 3245 days

#2 posted 09-22-2010 02:37 AM

Your on your way to a french polish my friend.

View thiel's profile


374 posts in 2714 days

#3 posted 09-22-2010 02:53 AM

Sweet! I TOTALLY INVENTED French polish!

-- Laziness minus Apathy equals Efficiency

View swirt's profile


2107 posts in 2394 days

#4 posted 09-22-2010 03:04 AM

I use it like that to repair shellac finishes. A dab of mineral oil on the cloth helps keep it from sticking, then wipe the surface down with alcohol. Careful though, too much and you end up pretty much removing all the finish.

-- Galootish log blog,

View RichClark's profile


157 posts in 2852 days

#5 posted 09-22-2010 03:14 AM

Well a few hundred years yes… perhaps re-invented… (not really)... If you want to level the surface of a thick coat you load up a “rubber” (ya got me this name for it) Its a bit of absorbent material (like Cheese cloth) that you make a pad out of, by placing it inside a fine linen (I use old bed sheets). You wet it in the what ever cut of shellac and you add a few drops of OIL to it… the OIL will “float” on top of the finish once its done and can be removed easily. You push really hard and rub the surface till the pad starts to drag badly and then you keep going a few minutes more (repeat till ya have gotten all the surface done and reload the pad if needed and re-oil). Then you gently go from end to end in long strokes with the grain. Once that is done get some acetone or other spirit based cleaned and remove the oil. Then get some Polish for cars…. like the kind you remove swirl marks with and then use a paper towel and rub that all over till it drys… then clean it with a terry cloth and you will have a mirror finish..

-- Duct Tape is the Force! It has a light side and a dark side and it Binds the Universe together!

View KB1's profile


28 posts in 2575 days

#6 posted 09-22-2010 07:40 AM

I do hope you learn to use shellac properly in the future. Shellac is a wonderful finishing tool. You must use DE-WAXED shellac. If the shellac you buy in the 3 lb cut (zinnser orange) is cloudy you must get rid of the cloudy part. That is the wax and will cause you many problems. Zinnser “seal coat” is already de waxed and fairly neutral in color. Dilute it by half with denatured alcohol and you have a workable 1 lb cut. KB1

-- KB1KnoB

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 3550 days

#7 posted 09-22-2010 11:27 AM

Wax is a natural part of shellac.

-- 温故知新

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