Rubbing out shellac

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Forum topic by pashley posted 11-17-2008 11:15 PM 13189 views 3 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View pashley's profile


1043 posts in 3681 days

11-17-2008 11:15 PM

Topic tags/keywords: shellac

I’ve been getting into using shellac as a topcoat on bare wood lately, but can’t seem to get an even finish with it, even while using the aerosol can. It dries so quick, I guess it does have time to flatten out.

So, how do you flatten shellac out? lightly sand with 220 again?

I plan on putting a final topcoat of Briwax on top, if that helps….

-- Have a blessed day!

12 replies so far

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3902 days

#1 posted 11-18-2008 12:52 AM

My finishing regimine includes spraying shellac after sanding with 220 grit. When it dries I sand again with 320, then wipe-on poly and sand with 400 grit. Then another layer of poly and sand with 600, finally one more coat of poly and rub with 0000 steel wool. To my hands, the finish comes out nice and soft and smooth.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3925 days

#2 posted 11-18-2008 01:45 AM

Russel said it best.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3691 days

#3 posted 11-18-2008 05:21 AM

At the risk of sounding ignorant, why even use shellac if yo are going to poly of the top?

Pashley, I’m having the same trouble. I think I’ve read that the trick is to make a polishing pad and rub in small circles (the size of a quarter) after wetting the pad with alcohol. Keep rubbing till it gets sticky, then ad more alcohol. Keep working over the entire surface till smooth. I’m still reading up on this though.

View pashley's profile


1043 posts in 3681 days

#4 posted 11-18-2008 06:32 AM

I’m not putting poly on top, but rather wax.

-- Have a blessed day!

View Loren's profile


10244 posts in 3611 days

#5 posted 11-18-2008 07:09 AM

My guess is you are using too heavy a mixture – too much shellac
to too little thinner – for your skill with it.

I’ve never sprayed shellac but I’ve both brushed it and padded
it on in the French polishing mode and generally found it very
forgiving. I build up many thin coats, lightly sanding between
them usually, and after the last I use a synthetic wool pad and
put on the wax.

When shellacking without wax… as in for guitars the method
of French polishing requires some practice – each layer of application
is “packed” into prior layers as the solvent partially dissolves
them, much like nitrocellulose lacquer. As you get the surface
build up you have to go longer between coats and the “rubber”
drags on the surface as the shellac cures under it. If you push
it too far the pad lifts off the shellac and you have to repair
or strip and start over… so it’s a bit nerve wracking if you’ve never
done it before. Olive oil helps prevent the lift-off effect and
then when you are done you have a shellac surface polished
smooth with no abrasives… and with a thin coat of oil on it. The
final step is “spiriting off” when the oil is removed and the
uniquely gorgeous finish is left behind – all done without sanding
between coats or any abrasive polishing.

View Loren's profile


10244 posts in 3611 days

#6 posted 11-18-2008 07:11 AM

And yeah, Shellac dries so fast leveling out is not something
it does. You can build it up thick and sand off the high spots
if you like.

View bman's profile


9 posts in 3851 days

#7 posted 12-09-2008 05:57 PM

here’s what i do it seems to work pretty good so far. I sand all surfaces to about 400 grit then apply a 1.5 # cut of shellac with a pad, as in the French polish method. Rub out the finish lightly with 4/0 steel wool tack off the residue. Then add another coat of the 1.5 cut followed with with light rub in needed. follow that with A cote of Watco natural oil (danish oil) let sit for 2-3 hrs wipe off excess and let dry. I have used this method on walnut maple and quarter saw sycamore looks great really makes the grain pop i will try to get some pictures up.
I love that shellac ….it really makes me looks good

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3651 days

#8 posted 12-09-2008 06:28 PM

Bman , How does the oil get through the shellac undercoats ? The danish oil is supposed to soak into the wood and seal it from the inside .
I just finished a project where I wanted the endgrain to maintain its lighter color so I sealed it with 1# cut Shellac and then applied the danish oil to the rest of the piece and when it came to the endgrain , the oil just beaded up on the shellac .
Pashley , sounds to me like Loren has the experience and the right method for us to use . : )
Thank you , Loren for your knowledge and the advice : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3636 days

#9 posted 12-09-2008 09:28 PM

The only way to use shellac in my opinion is french polish.

If I don’t do that I tend to use one of the newer brushing lacquer products

View gagit's profile


2 posts in 3418 days

#10 posted 12-10-2008 01:50 AM

First posting. Not sure I’m in the right place. Ive finishing an oak coffee table with 3 coats water-based polycrylic. Is it advisable—or of any value—to wax coat (as you might with a shellac finish)?

-- gagit, Greenboro, NC

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4023 posts in 4027 days

#11 posted 12-10-2008 04:30 PM

As a continuation of topic here is an old post.
Gagit, real paste wax over any cured finish can’t hurt to smooth the feel, and offer minimal additional protection.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4210 days

#12 posted 12-10-2008 09:20 PM

Thanks for that link Dougie I just went back there to make it a favorite, sure is helpful info.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

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