Shellac Questions

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Forum topic by gfadvm posted 01-30-2012 06:37 AM 1875 views 1 time favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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14940 posts in 2686 days

01-30-2012 06:37 AM

Topic tags/keywords: dewaxed vs regular shellac

When should I use the dewaxed shellac vs the regular variety. I’m asking about the pre mixed Zinsser shellacs not the mix your own flakes. I understand the sanding sealer type use where you will apply stain or another finish over the first coat of shellac. I’m asking about doing a finish where only shellac will be used. Thanks.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

15 replies so far

View rance's profile


4258 posts in 3156 days

#1 posted 01-30-2012 06:59 AM

You are asking the right questions. Hope you don’t mind me being a fly on the wall and listening in.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3740 days

#2 posted 01-30-2012 02:16 PM

The following description is from
“Wax provides some flexibility & moisture resistance.
Waxy’ shellacs are a good choice when the finish will be only shellac.
Dewaxed Shellac is necessary if the shellac will be used as a primer/sealer, undercoater or transitional coating.
A Shellac seal coat (made with dewaxed shellac) may be topcoated by almost any other clear coating or with paint.
(always test materials for compatibility in you application.)”
Check out the web page for more info on shellac. They only sell shellac flakes and buttons, but the info may help you with the premixed stuff.

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2800 days

#3 posted 01-30-2012 02:29 PM

good questions, and thnx for the link Tim

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View JoeyG's profile


1275 posts in 2621 days

#4 posted 01-30-2012 02:39 PM

Good subject. I will be following along as well. I’m off to check out the link that Tim gave us.

-- JoeyG ~~~

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4984 posts in 2489 days

#5 posted 01-30-2012 03:53 PM

The only reason I would choose dewaxed for the dewaxed part is if I plan to top coat it with anything “poly” or water borne. I have no poly-anything in my shop so that never becomes an issue. I do use waterbornes and if undercoating with shellac I would choose a dewaxed product. The varnishes I use are all alkyd resin with either a linseed oil or soya oil (most likely) formula and they adhere to any of the shellacs. I picked up this advice from Flexner’s as well as Jewitt’s book on finishing.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View ChuckV's profile


3118 posts in 3523 days

#6 posted 01-30-2012 03:59 PM

In Understanding Wood Finishing, Bob Flexner explains how any ordinary (waxed) shellac can be dewaxed.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2357 days

#7 posted 01-30-2012 04:06 PM

Why do you use shellac when there are better alternatives available? Oil poly—Waterborne poly—Lacquer

See my blog on the subject.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View Bertha's profile


13525 posts in 2689 days

#8 posted 01-30-2012 04:17 PM

I love shellac. I like it because of the fast dry time, the soft build, and the tint you can achieve. I use all kinds but I probably use the Zissner, etc. the most simply out of convenience (I can buy it at ACE a mile from my house). What I’ve been doing is cutting it to the desired cut in a jar, then letting it sit in the cold shop. I take a meat baster and suck the waxy crud off the top. I have no idea if this is a valid method; it’s just what I do. I’ve never had a problem with another finish grabbing on top of it. Good luck!

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

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4929 posts in 3956 days

#9 posted 01-30-2012 04:47 PM

Glad to hear your interest in one of my favorite finishes.
Shellac as a final finish or a sealer for a wiping varnish is my go-to finish.
Poly has its place as in a table top, floor, etc. I just feel that a more traditional finish is best suited on quality work. Having said that, I grew up in a piano shop, and think that plain old nc lacquer is an excellent finish as well. Just gotta have quality equipment.


View Earlextech's profile


1161 posts in 2686 days

#10 posted 01-30-2012 05:47 PM

Simple rules –
Dewaxed if a sealer
Regular if a top coat

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

View Bertha's profile


13525 posts in 2689 days

#11 posted 01-30-2012 06:00 PM

^makes total sense to me, Sam:)

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

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2686 days

#12 posted 01-31-2012 04:09 AM

Thanks for all the input/advice. I had seen that site Tim linked and it is very informative to a point (I learned how shellac is made: very wierd!). The only reason I’m currently trying shellac is I’m always trying to expand my options. My next experiment will probably be Danish Oil (but I suspect it is very similar to ‘Antique Oil Finish’ and ‘Tung Oil Finish’.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Manitario's profile


2630 posts in 2879 days

#13 posted 01-31-2012 04:31 AM

I’m using shellac for the first time on an entertainment center I’m making; I tried a bunch of different finishes on scrap, and shellac just had a great warm look to it. Not sure I’d trust its durability for a coffee table but it looks great on the entertainment center.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2636 days

#14 posted 01-31-2012 04:46 AM

Hey, Doc. All good advise above. Shellac does pop the wood grain well and (as said above) de-waxed will allow you to last coat with even wipe poly to get a layer of protection (in case somebody spills their scotch on it).

Why de-wax waxed shellac when the de-waxed stuff is in the can next to it ?

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2686 days

#15 posted 01-31-2012 05:19 AM

Chipmunk, When I tried ‘padding’ the shellac on I tended to rub through the previous coats so I’m now using a brush and getting along much better. Anyone else have this experience? I appreciate all the comments and advice.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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