Seal Coat and Wood Grain

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Forum topic by Dchip posted 10-25-2010 05:04 PM 1728 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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271 posts in 3277 days

10-25-2010 05:04 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing

I just started using low-cut, de-waxed shellac as a seal-coat on freshly sanded wood. I understand its use for building a finish more quickly (not getting into uses for stains or dyes), but it seems like it prevents the grain from popping in the way that an oil-based (or straight oil) finish does.

Is this a consequence of saving time in finishing or am I just imagining it?

If this is so, why do many people favor using shellac as the first coat when an oil-based finish will be applied on top?

Any input is appreciated.

-- Dan Chiappetta, NYC,

2 replies so far

View NathanAllen's profile


376 posts in 3169 days

#1 posted 10-25-2010 06:20 PM

Main reason is to prevent blotching and uneven staining. The Oil based stain will blow through the shellac, but slow down the absorption enough to prevent the worst of it.

The other main reason is that shellac is effective as a pore sealer, so you end up with a smoother surface.

View jayman7's profile


218 posts in 3530 days

#2 posted 10-25-2010 09:56 PM

Using shellac seals the wood so the subsequent oil varnish coats builds faster. For me, the wood is so thirsty for varnish that it usually takes 2 or sometimes 3 coats until you can really see the finish building up (it could be just that I’m using a pretty thinned wiping varnish formula). With just one coat of oil varnish over shellac, the piece almost looks finished already. Unfortunately, the wood just does “pop” as nicely or look as beautiful than if I used an oil varnish alone, so I usually skip the shellac.

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