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Shellac finish - what to clean with between sanding coats

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Forum topic by Dave Pearce posted 05-24-2011 09:15 PM 8315 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Dave Pearce

108 posts in 3137 days


05-24-2011 09:15 PM

Topic tags/keywords: shellac finishing mineral spirits sanding

I’m using Garnet shellac to finish a project (flakes + alcohol mixture), and was wondering if it’s safe to use mineral spirits between sanding coats to get the dust off.

Or will it cause problems with the shellac? If so, anyone recommend anything else?

thanks,

—dave

-- http://www.pearcewoodworking.com


13 replies so far

View Loren's profile

Loren

8305 posts in 3112 days


#1 posted 05-24-2011 09:18 PM

I don’t recommend it. Compressed air and tack cloth is a better
choice for shellac.

View Earlextech's profile

Earlextech

1159 posts in 2155 days


#2 posted 05-24-2011 11:04 PM

Clean dry rag, compressed air.

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

View mtkate's profile

mtkate

2049 posts in 2789 days


#3 posted 05-24-2011 11:53 PM

Yes, just a dust off.

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 2524 days


#4 posted 05-25-2011 12:05 AM

There is no need to to. Wipe it clean with clean rag.
Or better yet compress air.

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 2524 days


#5 posted 05-25-2011 01:12 AM

Yes, you are correct. It will melt into the finish. However applying another coat of shellac on top of shellac dust will result in a rough surface. Best way is to vacuum.

View Loren's profile

Loren

8305 posts in 3112 days


#6 posted 05-25-2011 02:47 AM

Shellac is really pretty forgiving. That’s what’s so cool about it. You
don’t have to be scrupulously clean because it dries so fast and once
it’s cured it polishes out so nice. You can and should rub out your shellac
on furniture if you have the time to wait. Rubbing out removes surface
roughness where it may have happened. The effect is worth it.

Also, you can learn to french polish and use elements of french
polishing technique in your regular shellacking. I don’t often do
the full-on french polish method because it’s tedious, but I do
“spirit off” sometimes.

View Dave Pearce's profile

Dave Pearce

108 posts in 3137 days


#7 posted 05-25-2011 03:28 PM

Excellent, thanks everyone for your input. The shellac was a little rough after it dried and a little bit patchy in coloring, so I figured it needed a little bit of fine sanding and probably an extra coat to help even things out. (This is on red oak, by the way). I’m using a one pound cut, so it’s not terribly thick and flows really well, which is forcing me to be very careful on the edges and vertical peices.

I had considered using fine steel wool (quad aught) to polish the surface instead of 320 grit sandpaper, but in the end I went with the 320 (had more of it close at hand than steel wool).

After sanding and reading the couple of replies yesterday, I tested a small area with a soft cloth with some mineral spirits, and it did clean up ok, so I finished up the rest of the cabinet with it. It’ll definitely need another coat, but I think this time I’ll try polishing rather than sanding and skip the mineral spirits. I’m noticing that sanding (even with fine grit) takes back off enough of the finish that I seem to be taking two steps forward and one step back.

As Loren mentioned, with shellac being so forgiving and since I have time, I’ll go with the polishing route on the second coat and see what that brings me. Shouldn’t take too long to polish since I’m using a thin cut.

And I promise I’ll post it as a project with a write-up when I’m finished.

Thanks!

-- http://www.pearcewoodworking.com

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

13003 posts in 2157 days


#8 posted 05-25-2011 03:30 PM

I toot with air, rub with an old shirt, and sticky tack at the very end. Cut shellac goes on so thin (which is why we like it) that it’s really easy to remove. Good luck!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Marco Cecala's profile

Marco Cecala

189 posts in 3497 days


#9 posted 05-25-2011 03:44 PM

You are right to use sandpaper between coats. When you are about done, you can sand with 400 or 600 wet/dry paper and half and half mineral oil and mineral spirits.

When done using mineral spirits and to clean the surface, use Naphtha. It evaporates fast and gets rid of the oily residue that the shellac has to cut through to adhere to the layer below.

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 2524 days


#10 posted 05-25-2011 05:03 PM

I don’t see the need to use any solvent between coats, just remove the dust and apply another coat.
If your going to do rubbing out let the shellac dry at least couple days, a week is even better.

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

13003 posts in 2157 days


#11 posted 05-25-2011 05:18 PM

I hate finishing; and because of this, I’m certainly no expert. However, it seems to me that if you’re using a dewaxed shellac (which I’m assuming you are, maybe an incorrect assumption), there should be little oily residue left for the next coat to work around. Although I’ve used naptha to cut through the oil in cocobolo, for example, I’m not sure you need it here. Naptha is some nasty stuff, too. We all know that shellac is a slow builder and I try not to invade the previous coats too aggressively.

Like I said, I don’t know what I’m doing, which is why I’m here!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Marco Cecala's profile

Marco Cecala

189 posts in 3497 days


#12 posted 05-25-2011 07:44 PM

Good thoughts Bertha. Never use solvent if you don’t need to. A rag dampened with naphtha is a great way to remove sanding dust and general cleaning before the next coat. It has no effect on the shellac.

Steven nailed it on rubbing out. Let the piece sit until you can smell no more shellac thinner when holding your nose to the surface. A week inside is pretty good usually. It will also shrink by then also, presenting any spots that need additional work.

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

13003 posts in 2157 days


#13 posted 05-25-2011 08:24 PM

Good stuff here. Thanks Marco!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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