Spraying shellac

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Forum topic by john2005 posted 09-26-2013 04:24 AM 9632 views 2 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View john2005's profile


1741 posts in 1596 days

09-26-2013 04:24 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Ok, how many of you spray shellac, and how do you do it. I work at a body shop and usually spray lacquer but I like the look of shellac, it just doesn’t brush/wipe on for crap. As thin as it is, I see it spraying very well. Thoughts? Ideas? Do’s? Don’ts? Thanks

-- In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

20 replies so far

View TDSpade's profile


89 posts in 1834 days

#1 posted 09-26-2013 06:03 AM

Spraying shellac is the only way to go. This is my favorite how to video on spraying shellac.

-- For every expert, there is an equal and opposite expert.

View Loren's profile


8158 posts in 3066 days

#2 posted 09-26-2013 07:09 AM

“Spray Finishing” by Andy Sharron covers the spraying of
shellac as he is real into it. I never sprayed it myself
but if you have the space and the size of the job merits
the clean-up, try it.

View NiteWalker's profile


2735 posts in 1995 days

#3 posted 09-26-2013 11:56 AM

+1 on spraying it.
Bullseye shellac is a 3# cut, sealcoat (dewaxed shellac) is a 2# cut.
I stick to the sealcoat because it’s so versatile. If I need to tint it I use transtint dyes.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View Earlextech's profile


1157 posts in 2108 days

#4 posted 09-26-2013 12:17 PM

Sealcoat everyday! I’m with NiteWalker.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View dhazelton's profile


2283 posts in 1714 days

#5 posted 09-26-2013 12:46 PM

I brush it. You have to move fast but I’ve never had a problem. On an antique piece it’s the only way to go if you still want it to look like an antique.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3839 posts in 1911 days

#6 posted 09-26-2013 01:52 PM

I can apply it 2 ways: I can pad it (and french polish), and I can spray it. Since padding works best on flat areas, everything else gets sprayed. I usually mix my own (1# cut, give/take). What I like most is the easy clean up; soak the gun in some household ammonia and warm water. It destroys the shellac.

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

View john2005's profile


1741 posts in 1596 days

#7 posted 09-26-2013 01:57 PM

Maybe thats my problem with the brushing. I am too slow.:) Next project, I think I will take to the booth and spray. Sounds like the way to go.
NiteWalker, could you please tell me what 3# and 2# cut is. Sorry for being stoopid…
Thanks guys

-- In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

View BilltheDiver's profile


250 posts in 2303 days

#8 posted 09-26-2013 02:36 PM

I think the number refers to the lbs of shellac dissolved into denatured alcohol to make a gallon. I buy the Bullseye and cut it in half with denatured alcohol for spraying. I usually wind up running it out with wax and 000 steel wool at the end.

-- "Measure twice, cut once, count fingers"

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

1057 posts in 1949 days

#9 posted 09-27-2013 03:45 AM

BilltheDiver – essentially correct. Number of pounds of dry shellac dissolved into a gallon of alcohol. The end result is a bit more than a gallon. And it doesn’t have to be just denatured alcohol. Shellac dissolves (easily) in 4 different kinds of alcohol – methyl, isopropyl, ethyl and butyl. DNA is a mix of ethanol and methanol, in whatever ratio the manufacturer deems appropriate. I make mine with pure methanol, as it is the most economical available to me.

john2005, I spray it by the gallon, using a 1# or 1.5# cut. Those are quite thin weights, about the same viscosity as water, so the technique you use will be different than spraying lacquer.

Because shellac dries fast, it needs to be sprayed in fairly thin layers. As it burns in to itself like lacquer, it is pretty straightforward to build it up. But you don’t want to get too thick as that will cause crazing down the road.

Use a fairly small nozzle/needle combo – I use a 1.2mm set in an Iwata gun (LPH400-LV) but I’d go with a 1.0mm set if they made one. Very low air pressure, too, or you will have clouds of overspray.

Cleanup is easy – alcohol.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

View john2005's profile


1741 posts in 1596 days

#10 posted 09-27-2013 04:44 AM

Thanks Mark and Bill. I know we have some 1.2 nozzles at the shop. Not too sure about a 1 though. Either way, looks like I could make this happen. Thanks again for the info!

-- In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

View mtenterprises's profile


933 posts in 2111 days

#11 posted 09-27-2013 10:19 AM

I spray shellac with my Pasche air brush using the largest tip available and I think I’m running about 25psi. Thinning is nothing fancy, pour some shellac in the jar add some alcohol and see if it sprays. If not add more alcohol until it sprays. The last project I sprayed was a turned black walnut ring holder. Shot it with about 8 thin coats and got a mirror finish, almost looks better than the rings it holds.

-- See pictures on Flickr - And visit my Facebook page -

View rrww's profile


263 posts in 1531 days

#12 posted 09-27-2013 01:07 PM

We spray 1# seal coat every day (not as a top coat) 1.2 tip is nice – but I have no problem using the 1.4. Its really thin, if you can spray lacquer you can spray seal coat – just don’t try to put too much on – go thin. If it runs on you fix it while its wet – its a whole lot easier than when its dry.

View Brian Burns's profile

Brian Burns

3 posts in 1 day

#13 posted 10-21-2016 12:51 AM

Hello All,

I realize that this thread is a bit long of tooth, but it’s a topic of primary interest to me, so I’ll go ahead and post.

I finish the classical guitars that I make with shellac, primarily by French polishing, but lately I’ve been trying a Taklon brush as well. I’ve been thinking of trying spraying with an air brush—-I want to keep the finish thin—-and noticed that Mike of MT enterprises mentions that he has had some air brush experience. I’m looking for any advice that I can get on the topic, and was wondering if anyone else uses an airbrush for shellac spraying.



-- Brian, Spanish guitar maker

View CharlesA's profile


2973 posts in 1215 days

#14 posted 10-21-2016 01:21 AM

I LOVE spraying shellac. Don’t overspray it. Light when coats. Much, much easier than brush or pad.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View Carloz's profile


49 posts in 9 days

#15 posted 10-21-2016 02:12 PM

Spraying shellac is the only way to go.
- TDSpade

Right! That is why it was so popular for hundreds of years far before sprayers were invented.
OP I am surprised you have difficulties to wipe it on. Shellac is very forgiving and the easiest finish to work with. Just dont apply to much at once

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