Shellacked Board thru Benchtop Planer?

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Forum topic by Vininnh posted 04-02-2013 08:40 AM 1328 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Vininnh's profile


5 posts in 2117 days

04-02-2013 08:40 AM

Odd that I can’t find this anywhere…

Can I remove shellac with a benchtop planer?

I assume this is a bad idea, but I can’t seem to find a source that confirms this…

9 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5229 posts in 2727 days

#1 posted 04-02-2013 12:13 PM

I’ve read over and over (and believe) that planing finish off boards will dull your knives much more quickly. That said, I don’t see why. The planer knives are cutting into the wood under the finish, by the time it pulls the chip I’m betting the knife may not have even touched the finish. So, do it but you may have to sharpen your knives. BTW, shellac is one of the easier finishes to remove with a card scraper.

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

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2603 days

#2 posted 04-02-2013 12:20 PM

Vin, like Fred said, I’ve had success using a card scraper to remove several very old layers of shellac from a chest. When I did it, I wiped on a liberal coat of denatured alcohol, waited a bit, then used the card scraper. It came off relatively fast in a nasty sludgy mess.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View chrisstef's profile


17795 posts in 3240 days

#3 posted 04-02-2013 12:27 PM

Id run it through the planer without much worry. Like Ed said DNA will “melt” the shellac back into a liquid-ish form and should help it come off. I just had to strip down a project with a base coat of shellac and it came off like butter with a handplane and i didnt notice any dulling of my plane iron.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3392 days

#4 posted 04-02-2013 12:44 PM

I try not to do too much of such a thing, but I weigh that against the time it takes to do it another way. I don’t think it hurts to do this in a limited way.

But yeah, shellac is easily removed with DNA and a scraper.

-- jay,

View dhazelton's profile


2803 posts in 2530 days

#5 posted 04-02-2013 01:28 PM

You can use ammonia as well. Cheaper, just use LOTS of ventilation.

View shampeon's profile


1894 posts in 2417 days

#6 posted 04-02-2013 05:33 PM

It will dull your knives faster, absolutely. The planer rotor head is cutting into the top of the finished board as the feed rollers push the board forward. Bits of finish will melt as this happens, sticking to the blade and creating more resistance as the blades cut through, heating up the blade, causing more build up. All of that dulls the blades.

But Jay makes a good point, which is the time saved might make it worth it. For a small board with shellac, go with the DNA and a scraper to remove it. If you’re prepping a bunch of reclaimed boards, plane away.

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

View pintodeluxe's profile


5815 posts in 3047 days

#7 posted 04-02-2013 05:47 PM

I have removed stain and lacquer from boards with the planer. I didn’t notice any change in permormance afterwards.

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

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3881 days

#8 posted 04-02-2013 05:51 PM

As finishes go, I think shellac is less likely to dull the knives a
lot compared to other finishes. It’s pretty soft compared to
things like lacquer and the heavy finishes used in factory
furniture. Shellac can be softened with modest heat…
so putting the boards in the sun under a black tarp or
something like that should cause the shellac to get soft
and gummy. Then you’ll find you can get it off with a
paint scraper easily I think.

The alcohol is a good solution too I suppose. I’ve stripped
french polish that way.

View Vininnh's profile


5 posts in 2117 days

#9 posted 04-15-2013 02:18 PM

Thanks for all the great replies!

A lot to think about!

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