Zinsser Bullseye Shelac

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Forum topic by ric53 posted 12-06-2014 02:40 PM 2010 views 1 time favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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194 posts in 1548 days

12-06-2014 02:40 PM

Has any body out there had any experience with thinning Bullseye Shelac? I know it says on the can not to thin it but I would like to wipe it on if possible. If I can’t thin it what kind of wiping finish can I put on over it?

-- Ric, Mazomanie

22 replies so far

View endgrainy's profile


251 posts in 1917 days

#1 posted 12-06-2014 02:44 PM

You can definitely thin it with denatured alcohol. I usually thin it with a 50/50 mixture which results in (I believe) a “1lb cut.” The common advice is to use the dewaxed shellac (Zinsser Seal Coat) when using a different top coat (ie poly.)

-- Follow me on Instagram @endgrainy

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8517 posts in 2011 days

#2 posted 12-06-2014 02:45 PM

Hmmm, I didn’t know it said that on the can, but you can certainly thin it with DNA. I do it all the time. Regular bullseye shellac has wax in it and shouldn’t really be top-coated with anything other than additional shellac. The wax may make topcoats peel.

However, zinsser also makes a product called “Sealcoat” which is just dewaxed shellac (which you can also thin). You can topcoat that with anything. It is ideal for sealing stains and dyes before topcoats.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

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Fred Hargis

5002 posts in 2522 days

#3 posted 12-06-2014 03:10 PM

It can be cut with no problems…not certain why they would say that unless you have one of their new “synthetic shellacs”. I have no idea what those things are, but they are being introduced.

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

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 2475 days

#4 posted 12-06-2014 03:13 PM

Shellac can also be thinned with 99% Isopropyl alcohol.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

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1041 posts in 1958 days

#5 posted 12-06-2014 03:55 PM

I think they’re required to say not to thin it because it’s low voc compliant and the goverment won’t allow THEM to allow YOU to add voc’s to it because, well, it makes the baby seals sad.

-- You've got to be smarter than the tree.

View OSU55's profile


1703 posts in 2018 days

#6 posted 12-08-2014 10:43 PM

Shellac can be thinned with DNA or isopropyl alcohol, the 99.9% stuff should be used – don’t want the water. The isopropyl is good when brushing because it evaporates slower and gives more open time. Bulls eye shellac is a 3# cut, and SealCoat is 2# cut. I like to brush a 1-1/2# cut. A 1# cut means 16 oz or 1 lb weight of shellac dissolved in 128 oz or 1 gallon liquid. Golden tacklon brushes are by far the best for shellac.

Shellac sets very quickly and is typically not wiped on. The technique of French polishing is used to apply with a rag. It’s a slow tedious process. Brushing or spraying (especially large surfaces) is recommended. Jeff Jewitt at Homestead Finishing has some very good info on shellac at his website.

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150 posts in 1916 days

#7 posted 12-08-2014 11:36 PM

I thin it with denatured alcohol 50/50 and wipe it on with a lint-free rag. I’ve had good experience. I’ve also used 0000 steel wool and “massaged” it into the grain – then wipe the excess with a clean rag – not sure if this is a prescribed method but it works well for me. If you’re new to shellac, I’d suggest thinning it more than 50/50… there is no harm it just takes longer get a good build up.

View Tim's profile


3812 posts in 1990 days

#8 posted 12-09-2014 12:55 AM

Apparently most DNA you can get isn’t very good quality and higher quality DNA makes a difference in the finish.

Credit to bhog the lac guru.

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11829 posts in 2409 days

#9 posted 12-09-2014 05:43 AM

I believe you will get frustrated trying to wipe shellac, just thin and brush. And I would not apply a wiping finish of any sort over it, actually I wouldn’t apply any finish over it. Either just use the shellac or use whatever else, unless you believe there some contamination in the wood that you need to seal.

-- Rick M,

View OSU55's profile


1703 posts in 2018 days

#10 posted 12-09-2014 04:02 PM

As for the quality of DNA, I’ve compared the so called high quality stuff and the cheap box store stuff and found absolutely no difference in the dissolving of flakes, application of the finish, cure time, or quality of the cured finish. The box store DNA will contain much more methyl alcohol, 40-75%, whereas Behlen and some of the others contain 90% or more ethyl alcohol. A proper respirator should be used when spraying, and brushing for lengthy periods, regardless which you choose to use.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2719 days

#11 posted 12-12-2014 01:24 AM

Wipe/rub on is my favorite technique with shellac. I thin with DNA in 1:1 ratio.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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792 posts in 2428 days

#12 posted 12-12-2014 03:17 PM

I always thin mine at least 50%

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

View Rick's profile


9753 posts in 3062 days

#13 posted 12-13-2014 05:39 AM

When I used a lot of Shellac, I used Methyl Hydrate (as below) at 50/50 for thinning.

It also helps it dry a lot faster. I would only Brush it on. Nothing on top of that except more Shellac if desired.

I also used as a “Quick Dry Sealer” on other woods if they were to have a Painted Finish.

Note the other uses in the Ad. It’s also what they sell as Gas Line Anti Freeze for your car, only a lot cheaper this way. ...LOL..

This stuff is Highly Flammable, burns with a HOT Blue Flame that you can barely see. So … Be Careful Using It and in a well ventilated area.

Good Luck: Rick

-- LIFE is what happens when you're planning on doing Other Things!

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11829 posts in 2409 days

#14 posted 12-14-2014 05:06 AM

Shellac already dries fast, any faster and your brush will be stuck to the finish.

-- Rick M,

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9753 posts in 3062 days

#15 posted 12-14-2014 06:50 AM

Shellac already dries fast, any faster and your brush will be stuck to the finish.

- Rick M.

Not on it’s own it doesn’t. It also depends on what type of Shellac I’ve been using what I explained above, for a long time. I know what I’m talking about. You?

”any faster and your brush will be stuck to the finish.” HA! HA! HA! That was very Funny.

-- LIFE is what happens when you're planning on doing Other Things!

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