Zinsser Shellac

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Forum topic by KenBee posted 08-20-2011 05:49 PM 7153 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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109 posts in 2875 days

08-20-2011 05:49 PM

I was looking at Zinsser Shellac in a local store so before buying I have couple of questions. One is wax free and the other isn’t. Now to my questions.

1. What is the difference in difference in appearance between the two once applied and which is best to use on walnut, maple and oak or does it matter?

2. I have read at times about cutting shellac with denatured alcohol if I remember correctly. Why cut it and does the Zinsser in a can need to be cut or is it ready to use right out of the can? If it should be cut what is the formula for best results?

3. I like the idea of a natural looking finish for my projects so I presume the clear kind is the way to go as opposed to amber or blonde.

Thanks for any info given.

-- If it won't fit get a BIGGER hammer.

3 replies so far

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 3952 days

#1 posted 08-20-2011 06:05 PM

Marc Spagnolo (The WoodWhispere) has a pretty good video on shellac and other finishes,

but of course I have a bit of an opinion based on what I’ve read as I’ve not worked with shellac for a long time and don’t remember much of those experiences.

1 I don’t believe the wax makes much of a colour difference, there is more of a difference of the different in the different types of shellac (National Geographic had an excellent article about shellac a while back, I highly recommend looking it up).

2 Alcohol is to shellac like paint thinners are to paint. If you want to thin the shellac out add alcohol. The best formula for results is I suspect to try it at different ratios on the actual wood (test pieces) you are using as any other formulas are general case and will need to be ‘tweaked’ for your particular environment.

3 Yes pick which is best for your project!

I look forward to the results:-)

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3225 days

#2 posted 08-21-2011 04:09 AM

I love the Zinsser in a can. Use it all the time.

I always add a coat of another finish after – some kind of poly – because shellac will wear easily with handling. Because of this I use the non-wax kind. I feel like this let’s the poly attach better.

As far as cutting it – I like shellac for grain sealing, to get a mirror finish and very smooth.. Out of the can it is kind of thick. Since I ultimately end up sanding a lot of it off as I buff it smooth, it just makes sense to cut it down. If out of the can it is kind of like mayo, I thin it down to something more like olive oil.

Totally clear, it will still tint your work a bit, but in the grain popping way you get with any finish. Not nearly as much as the amber or whatever… It’s really rare I use the tinted ones. Not a fan. The clear shellac is intense enough IMO.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Earlextech's profile


1162 posts in 2930 days

#3 posted 08-21-2011 11:09 PM

Use dewaxed seal coat. I thin it 1:1 with denatured alcohol which gives me a 2lb cut.(It’s 3lb cut in the can.) You have to use dewaxed if you are going to use any waterbased top coats.
Spray with HVLP one coat to seal, then stain, then one more coat to seal, then top coat (with your choice) as many coats as is needed.

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

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