Thinning Amber Shellac With...

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Forum topic by JSB posted 10-06-2012 03:54 PM 1616 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View JSB's profile


737 posts in 2100 days

10-06-2012 03:54 PM

OK, so as you can see from the majority of my projects I mainly work with pine and have a great Amber Shellac finishing method. I cut the can 50/50 with Denatured Alchahol before I apply. I have read over and over that cleaning with ammonia is just as effective as DA. So if thats the case, could I thin with ammonia? Ammonia is $1 for 64oz here. A LOT less expensive. If not, why? Just curious.
- Jay

-- Jay -

6 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4240 days

#1 posted 10-06-2012 04:21 PM

I really don’t know the answer. But I know I’d much rather smell alcohol than ammonia.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4997 posts in 2515 days

#2 posted 10-06-2012 04:36 PM

In a word, NO. Alkalines will actually destroy shellac, as opposed to simply thinning (or dissolving the solids). I clean my spray gun with ammonia, since it’s cheaper and actually removes the shellac….if I cleaned my brushes, I would also use ammonia. But stick to alcohol to dilute and dissolve the flakes.

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

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4947 posts in 3982 days

#3 posted 10-06-2012 04:39 PM

Believe what Mr. Fred said. Fred said? Hey, that’s cute.
Foolishness aside, he’s right.


View KnickKnack's profile


1090 posts in 3589 days

#4 posted 10-06-2012 06:02 PM

I know nothing about shellac, but I do know that ammonia is going to, potentially, seriously change the colour of your wood. It’s “famous”, as it were, for the effect it has in darkening oak (to almost black in some cases), but I have personally found that it can re-colour pine significantly too.

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2712 days

#5 posted 10-07-2012 02:54 AM

Ammonia works great for cleaning shellac brushes but won’t work to dilute your shellac. (Don’t ask how I learned this!)

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

View JSB's profile


737 posts in 2100 days

#6 posted 10-07-2012 04:19 AM

Tell someone “dont look down!” and what will they do? Look down. So I tried it just for grins. The ammonia I used turned my amber shellac (already thinned 50/50 with DA) purple. Sprayed a stick out of the scrap bin. I now have a koolaid purple scrap stick. lol. Enough experimenting. Off to spray some real shellac :)

-- Jay -

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