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New to Shellac: Spray vs Brush

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Forum topic by Nighttripper posted 695 days ago 2945 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Nighttripper

41 posts in 764 days


695 days ago

Hi guys,

I’ve been doing a ton of research on finish, reading various books as well as LJ and SawMill threads. I just finished a really nice Poplar Tea Box, and would really like to nail the finish. I am going to use CN Blotch Control and GF Water Based Antique Cherry, with a Shellac Finish.

I know I’m going to have to do a ton of practice to get decent with the Shellac. I hear first encounters with Shellac can be very frustrating.

Question: For a beginner, would I be better off starting with a really good brush, such as that sold by Jewitt, or just buy an HF spray gun, as I already have a compressor ?


19 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

3340 posts in 2556 days


#1 posted 695 days ago

I’ve done both brush and spray, and find that spraying (for me) is easier. Practice first.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

1640 posts in 1089 days


#2 posted 695 days ago

Did you consider padding? On pieces that don’t have a lot of details (like moldings, etc.) it may be the easiest. I can spray shellac, and I can pad it (and french polish…which is padding with 5X the work). But put a brush and jar of shellac in my hand and I can ruin a project faster than with any other finish. So, brush if you want…but be sure to practice (a lot) on scraps before you start on your Tea Box. BTW, if you choose to brush, dedicate one to shellac service, adn don’t bother cleaning it after use. Shellac only turns hard, so before the next use put the brush in some DNA for maybe 15 minutes and VIOLA, you are ready to go. (I’m pretty sure there is suppose to be an accent mark in that word somewhere).

-- I long for the days when Coke was a cola, and a joint was a bad place to be (Merle Haggard)

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

111999 posts in 2173 days


#3 posted 695 days ago

I like spraying shellac. It takes some practice. If you have a spray gun you can practice by spray water first on some cardboard. Shellac does come in a rattle can. Make sure you use dewaxed shellac that way if you decide to put another finish over it.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Nighttripper's profile

Nighttripper

41 posts in 764 days


#4 posted 695 days ago

Thanks for the fast responses guys….I guess the verdict is in….spraying it is.

Now just have to hope for good temp/humidity next weekend here in NJ. I really hope to have some great pics to post when finished.

View Earlextech's profile

Earlextech

900 posts in 1287 days


#5 posted 695 days ago

Spray it! Obviously.

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

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

3830 posts in 925 days


#6 posted 695 days ago

Either way you go, just don’t get your coffee cans mixed up and use water to “clean up” your equipment…

or you’ll get a first hand introduction to the great white gum monster.

Don’t ask me how I know this.

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View Loren's profile

Loren

7223 posts in 2244 days


#7 posted 695 days ago

I would brush or pad it on. Spraying is messy and wastes
finish. If you are already experienced with spray equipment
that could influence your choice though.

Shellac is forgiving actually. French polishing where the
shellac is compressed with friction and pressure using
oil as a lubricant in later coats is a challenging technique
to learn, but you don’t have to do a french polish to
get excellent results with shellac. You can just brush
or wipe it on, sand lightly between coats, and build it
up like most other film finishes.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View NiteWalker's profile

NiteWalker

2699 posts in 1173 days


#8 posted 695 days ago

Spray on most projects; wipe on smaller ones.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2824 posts in 844 days


#9 posted 695 days ago

I’m with Loren on this one. I think shellac is one of the most forgiving finishes. Wipe or brush it on and and sand lightly while building it up. I am pretty good with an HVLP gun but try to avoid spraying finish. It makes way too much of a mess.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View Nighttripper's profile

Nighttripper

41 posts in 764 days


#10 posted 694 days ago

In terms of appearance only (Sheen, Depth, Clarity), and not Protection/Durability or Speed, do you all think that shellac is worth it relative to the ease of say a GF Arm R Seal ??

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

3260 posts in 1409 days


#11 posted 694 days ago

A really bad spray gun is better than a really good brush.

Get a Woodriver gravity-feed HVLP and spend a Saturday learning to spray. You won’t regret it.
The gun costs $30.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View jmos's profile

jmos

681 posts in 966 days


#12 posted 694 days ago

I’ve had good luck brushing and padding shellac. My shop is in the basement so I really don’t have the option to spray. If I did, I would probably try it, but brushing is a lot less mess and waste.

I found the Gramercy shellac brush work great http://www.toolsforworkingwood.com/store/dept/CGT/item/GT-SHEBRU.XX/Gramercy_Tools_Finishing_Brushes_for_Shellac_and_Lacquer

I like the fact you can clean up with ammonia too.

-- John

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

1155 posts in 893 days


#13 posted 694 days ago

Brush. Do you want the piece to look handcrafted or like it came from a factory? Do three coats and when done rub with 0000 steel wool and use pastewax. Shellac dries in minutes depending on how old it is and the humdity, so you can be done in a couple of hours, including the drying time. Clean you brush in alcohol when done.

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2824 posts in 844 days


#14 posted 694 days ago

Nighttripper, I actually get better results brushing shellac than I get with Arm-R-Seal. Me and polyurethane don’t get along well though. For things that get handled a lot, like a box, I hate using poly. It makes the piece feel like plastic to me, not wood. I would use some shellac then maybe spray a coat of lacquer on after, or just simply do what dhazelton said. I generally rub out my finishes with wax applied with 0000 steel wool.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10533 posts in 1286 days


#15 posted 694 days ago

I always brush my shellac and it results in a great finish, easy to apply, dries fast providing you follow a few rules: I dilute my Zinsser Bullseye shellac 1:1 with denatured alcohol, use a good quality brush, DO NOT OVERBRUSH, sand between coats with 220-400 grit. I use Ammonia cleaner to clean my brushes (Much cheaper than DNA and reusable almost indefinately)

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

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