LumberJocks

Instructions thinning canned shellac

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by HorizontalMike posted 638 days ago 1941 views 1 time favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

6914 posts in 1511 days


638 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: shellac finishing thinning soft maple amber

I read somewhere the above is a “3lb mix” of Shellac. Having never used shellac before, I will be finishing a soft maple Shaker tall chest. Side panels are 3/4in veneer maple and the rest is milled maple.

QUESTION:
  • Should I thin the shellac for the “first” coat, or just on later coats?
  • If, by how much?
  • What can I expect with the “amber” colored shellac?

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."


27 replies so far

View Lifesaver2000's profile

Lifesaver2000

508 posts in 1709 days


#1 posted 638 days ago

Are you spraying, brushing, or something else?

For the color, check my project here. It is on oak, not maple, but with multiple coats I would expect the color would come out pretty close to the same.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

3342 posts in 2557 days


#2 posted 638 days ago

I usually go with a 1# cut on sealing when using Zinsser Seal Coat. Add 1/2 to 1/2 DNA.
Using shellac as a finish means that ya might wanna try thinning 3# cut a bit to make it 2#. 2 parts shellac to 1 part DNA. Will make it an easier shellac that will flow better.
Amber will give ya a much “warmer” color. Be sure to test on light colored woods before you commit to a final finish ‘cause color is a VERY subjective issue.
Are ya gonna spray or brush?
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

6914 posts in 1511 days


#3 posted 638 days ago

I am used to wiping on with a rag Think Minwax Tung Oil Finish. I saw a YouTube where the guy was wiping shellac on with a rag within a rag (pad) and the shellac was really thin. Is thinner/runny better for wiping? If so, how thin? Would I ever go down to a 1# mix?

FWIW, I do not have a spray booth. I do have a sprayer, however, my two times at trying it (deck stain) turned out to be a disaster.

I like that warm color, thanks for the example. 8-)

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

1642 posts in 1090 days


#4 posted 638 days ago

Padding it will be fairly easy, but I do like a thinner cut to pad. I usually try to stay close to a 1 1/2# cut, others might be able to work with the thicker cut but shellac is intended to be a very thin finish anyway. I’d thin it, probably 50/50 with DNA. Only thin a pint or so, if you get it too thick, you can add more DNA, if it’s too thin add more shellac.

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

View MedicKen's profile

MedicKen

1599 posts in 2059 days


#5 posted 638 days ago

Maybe try different cuts on some scrap first?

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their therapist....medic20447@gmail.com

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

6914 posts in 1511 days


#6 posted 638 days ago

And is it possible to use, say a Minwax Tung Oil finish first, and then shellac on top of that? Or am I defeating the purpose of using shellac?

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Cosmicsniper's profile

Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1755 days


#7 posted 638 days ago

Mike:

That can contains a 2# cut. That means its mixed 2 lbs. of flakes to 1 lb. of alcohol. I always do my first washcoats at 1# or thinner, so you’ll want to dilute it again 1:1 with alcohol.

For finishing coats, you normally use 2# or 3# cuts, but nothing says you can’t keep doing thin coats.

As far as padding on, the more solvent, the faster it dries. I find that it’s no easier to pad on if thinner since we are working more against the clock. Remember, this stuff dries fast in Texas. It does go on easier when thin, so you have to find your preference there.

Just work it fast…don’t dally with shellac. Remember that the next coat will melt the previous coat anyway. So be careful not to linger with your pad.

You can add a drop or two of oil (BLO, tung, whatever) to the pad to make gliding the pad easier and to slow down the drying a little bit. This would be French polishing, though you don’t have to do an entire French polish piece just to add a little oil to make life easier sometimes.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2824 posts in 845 days


#8 posted 638 days ago

I’ve been practicing this quite a bit lately (french polish). One tip with the pad. Do not ever let it rest on the piece. Start and end off the piece (think spraying). Don’t ever leave the pad in contact with the surface when it is not moving. I had to sand down and start over a few times because if that mistake

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View shampeon's profile

shampeon

1271 posts in 780 days


#9 posted 638 days ago

My understanding was that the dewaxed Zinnser SealCoat was 2 lb, and the regular Zinnser shellacs are 3 lb cuts.

I do keep a can of SealCoat around for ease of use. But the beauty of mixing your own shellac from flakes is that you can mix only as much as you need (shellac will go bad over time), you can mix your own cut, and you can fine-tune the tone by combining different colored flakes.

I get my flakes from Luthier’s Mercantile:
http://www.lmii.com/CartTwo/thirdproducts.asp?CategoryName=Finishes&NameProdHeader=Shellac+%26+French+Polishing+Materials

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View Cosmicsniper's profile

Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1755 days


#10 posted 638 days ago

Awh, shucks…thanks Ian. I did a quick glimpse and thought that was Sealcoat. That is indeed a 3# cut.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View Cosmicsniper's profile

Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1755 days


#11 posted 638 days ago

Mike:

Amber shellac will make that maple look like a good amber ale when finished. If that’s what you want, that’s cool. I don’t like doing that to maple, but oak would be pretty.

If you are just finishing with shellac, then you are just using it instead of poly or whatever film finish you normally use. Shellac is actually very hard and durable in that regard, but you normally avoid using it where a drink might be set on it.

So, I’d just use your Tung Oil finish, let it dry really well, and then chase it with full cuts of shellac. I would apply the shellac quickly with a brush…just get it on the wood. Then, I would lightly sand away any dust moats when dry, though there probably won’t be any as fast as it dries. Then I add progressive thinner coats as I go up. The final coat would be a “spiriting off” coat, which is pure solvent. This method will produce a very even finish. It’s a method similar to French polish, only without the oil and with a brush.

There’s a certain amount of trust you must have with shellac. It will melt the undercoats and does some self-leveling. Just let it build up and resist the tendency to “fix things” when it’s wet on the wood. Let the brush touch the wood only once. If you miss something, it’s better to wait until the next coat.

It takes some practice to build up that confidence.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

View WhoMe's profile

WhoMe

1075 posts in 1840 days


#12 posted 638 days ago

Mike, +1 on MedicKens suggestion on trying the amber on some scrap. I have used it on Home Depot style plywood and clear pine and after 2 coats it gets pretty orange. In my case, I used a foam brush full strength and it is difficult to get an even coat. Any variation on thickness really shows.
From what I remember, this is 2 coats of Amber and one coat of clear shellac (all full strength)on the Clear pine you get at Home Depot.


The white portions of the photos are white copy/printer paper for a color comparison.

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies and the wall gets in the way.. - Mike -

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

6914 posts in 1511 days


#13 posted 638 days ago

The chest goes to the bedroom, so no drinks. OK, I’ll just do the shellac in reasonably thin coats. I like the idea of “spiriting it off” at the end.

I looked for the SealCoat at HD, but it looks like they do not carry it.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

6914 posts in 1511 days


#14 posted 638 days ago

Oh yeah, I have PLENTY of scrap to test with for sure. Will do guys.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

111999 posts in 2174 days


#15 posted 638 days ago

As you probably know Mike I’m a Charles Neil fan ,he is a full blown finishing expert here are a video he’s done on the subject.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zn2uv3BP358

You should make sure you use the Seal coat (dewaxed) versus the waxed variety. Almost anything will go over dewaxed shellac but some finishes can be affected by shellac with wax still in it.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

showing 1 through 15 of 27 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase