Thinning Amber Shellac With...

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Forum topic by JSB posted 695 days ago 876 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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681 posts in 715 days

695 days ago

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 - or

6 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


15693 posts in 2855 days

#1 posted 695 days ago

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

1742 posts in 1130 days

#2 posted 695 days ago

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, we sent 'em to Washington.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

3426 posts in 2597 days

#3 posted 695 days ago

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


View KnickKnack's profile


976 posts in 2203 days

#4 posted 695 days ago

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


10760 posts in 1327 days

#5 posted 695 days ago

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


681 posts in 715 days

#6 posted 695 days ago

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 - or

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