amber decanted waxed shellac as a conditioner

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Forum topic by mtx77 posted 01-17-2013 06:33 AM 1505 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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24 posts in 1982 days

01-17-2013 06:33 AM

I tried minwax conditioner and a GF gel stain on some douglas fir and theres no blotches, its just…i dunno..cloudy i guess. Almost like transparent paint. I put on as little as possible. The color itself is close but i cant say i love it so id like to test shellac as a conditioner & regular non-gel oil stain. But i havent been able to get enough amber with regular oil stain.

I cant find orange shellac flakes locally. So i was hoping decanted zinsser amber shellac would condition it to stop blotching, and also give the (non gel) oil stain an amber boost when applied over it. Does it work like that?

Also trying to keep the grain on some oak for the same project as light as possible, will a shellac conditioner help there as well? I found using a light stain first then a darker one helps, but it could be better.

11 replies so far

View BenI's profile


332 posts in 2141 days

#1 posted 01-17-2013 08:36 AM

I’ve never used gel stain before but I believe gel stain by itself won’t lead to blotches because the gel stain doesn’t penetrate very much into the wood. Perhaps the combination of the condition and the gel stain lead to the cloudiness? I’d do a test piece using just the gel stain and see how that turns out.

-- Ben from IL

View Gerald Thompson's profile

Gerald Thompson

914 posts in 2197 days

#2 posted 01-17-2013 06:59 PM

I have never had good results with MinWax conitioner. Google hide glue sizing. This method has always worked for me. Charles Neil’s “blotch control’’ is an excellent product also.

-- Jerry

View mtx77's profile


24 posts in 1982 days

#3 posted 01-17-2013 07:12 PM

I wanted to use the orange shellac because I needed an amber tint. Can I use decanted amber shellac as a conditioner then apply oil stain over it? If I can get the color of my non-gel oil stain and a touch of amber it should be spot on.

I know I can use clear shellac and ive read about using hide glue, but then i dont get the amber im missing in the color. Hide glue and amber transtint maybe?

Im going to order Neils blotch control next paycheck, ive heard great things about it.


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Gerald Thompson

914 posts in 2197 days

#4 posted 01-17-2013 10:52 PM

Google dewaxed amber shellac. Don’t use Borg alcohol as the solvent. Bekhol makes some of the best, I would us a 1# cut and apply with clean cotton cloth. Do thin coats, don’t dab missed spots. Most solvent varnishes add amber. Waterlox is one. It too can be applyed with a cotton cloth and it is not cheap. It will get once it is open. I pour it in a Mason jar and with the lid just open a fraction put in some canned air made to blow off computers and such.
You can keep adding shellac in thin coats until you get the color you want. Use scraps for testing.

-- Jerry

View bhog's profile


2236 posts in 2653 days

#5 posted 01-17-2013 11:59 PM

mtx I have decanted shellac before but its been waxy flakes,button,or seedlac,I have never tried or even used minwax’s waxy shellac.I dont see why you couldnt though.My experience has been that it will seperate pretty quick(overnight),use a baster or something to suck the clearer stuff off the top.It may help to do it from a jar so you can see the line.It will take alot of the cloudyness out of it.And dont get greedy trying to get every last drop-when you get close throw the waxy milkshake

-- I don't drive a Prius.

View mtx77's profile


24 posts in 1982 days

#6 posted 01-18-2013 11:21 PM

I was going to leave it in the cold 50 degree garage to hel the wax solidify. Ive seperated things like this before, just not shellac.

I went to woodcraft last night and the guy said I could also use the zinsser sanding sealer, which was basially dewaxed clear shellac, and add some amber transtint.

Man there’s alot of finishing options…i think i need a book or something to help me sort it all out.

Thanks for everyones help though…

View bhog's profile


2236 posts in 2653 days

#7 posted 01-18-2013 11:32 PM

I would use the sealcoat and add the trans if its an option.Sealcoat is a good thing to have around anyway.

-- I don't drive a Prius.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5618 posts in 2776 days

#8 posted 01-19-2013 12:21 AM

Just use some Zinssner Bullseye Sealcoat, and thin it further 50/50 with denatured alcohol.
Use that as your washcoat. It is a very thin coat that acts as a pre-stain conditioner. After the washcoat dries, apply the stain. Follow that with the topcoat of your choice – lacquer, shellac or poly.

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

View RogerInColorado's profile


321 posts in 1917 days

#9 posted 01-19-2013 01:38 AM

My experience is that if I use gel stain from General Finishes, I don’t have to worry about blotching. I used it on a cherry desk and hutch I made for my bride. I also used it on a red alder picture frame I made and it ended up looking like a cherry frame. That one really surprised me.

I build a kitchen table in alder and wanted the color to match the base I was retrofitting it to. in order to get the match, I determined I needed to first dye the wood then apply a couple of coats of gel stain. The problem on my test piece was that the dye REALLY blotched the wood. I got some of Charles Neal’s blotch controller and applied two coats according the instructions in his video. I can recommend it without reservation. The only problem with it is that shipping costs as much as the product. Gotta get Woodcraft to stock the stuff so I can afford to buy some more. It’s way easier to use than shellac in a wash coat (no need to figure out how much to cut it, etc.) and you don’t have to wonder if that can of shellac on the shelf is fresh or not.

View Woodknack's profile


11475 posts in 2343 days

#10 posted 01-19-2013 05:10 AM

The best option for tinting softwoods like fir or pine is to skip the stain and add a dye to the shellac. Not only will you avoid blotching but it will look more natural.

-- Rick M,

View JAAune's profile


1786 posts in 2279 days

#11 posted 01-19-2013 05:19 AM

Thinned Sealcoat shellac is effective. I’ve used that along with sprayed water-based stains and gel stains in the past to make many pieces of furniture out of blotchy woods. The customers were always very happy with the end results.

For my latest job though, I decided to give Neil’s conditioner product a try and I’m pleased with the results. It’s easier than shellac (which is hard to apply uniformly) and the stain goes on even more evenly. I only needed one coat of blotch control for the cherry I was working with.

-- See my work at and

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