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Finishing with shellac

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Forum topic by giser3546 posted 12-29-2014 07:07 PM 794 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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giser3546

179 posts in 933 days


12-29-2014 07:07 PM

I am just getting started with finishing and wanted to try dyes along with the shellac flakes I’ve been testing for a few weeks. It would seem simplest to get an alcohol soluble dye and mix it in with my 1 lb cut shellac mixture, but I’ve been told the alcohol soluble dyes are prone to streaking and should be sprayed on. Considering the shellac should be sprayed as well I’m wondering if I should just bite the bullet and invest in spray gun and borrow a compressor, which leaves me wondering which spray gun among all the high and low pressure and high and low volume would be best for that.

The alternative would appear to use water soluble dye after pre-treating for any raised grain that may result, then once its dry to add a shellac to seal the dye.

Am I way off base in any of these assumptions? Would anyone have any suggestions?

-- "If you wait for it to rain, It will"


7 replies so far

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RogerM

759 posts in 1860 days


#1 posted 12-29-2014 07:45 PM

Forget mixing the dye with the shellac. After sanding to around 150 to 180 grit dampen the stock and allow to dry and sand down again. Follow with a water soluble dye. This surface can be adjusted by a damp sponge to lighten or more dye solution to darken. Mixing the dye with the shellac prevents any adjustments. Lightly sand with a 400 to 600 grit sandpaper then seal in the color with a very coat of dilute coat of shellac (I use Seal Coat diluted with an equal part of alcohol). I usually use polyurethane diluted with an equal part of mineral spirits after the shellac. After rubbing down with at least 000 steel wool or 800 grit sandpaper I apply Minwax Finishing Wax with 0000 steel wool then buff. I hope that this helps you out.

Note that water soluble dye is not absorbed well in stock sanded to 220 and higher grits.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

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RogerM

759 posts in 1860 days


#2 posted 12-29-2014 08:01 PM

I think you are going down the right track but you are trying to accomplish too much in a single coat. A good finish takes time and patience and usually a number of thin coats. I have found the dyes (especially the water soluble varieties) are easy to use and allow considerably flexibility in adjusting color. I have not found grain raising to be that much of a problem when you wet the surface a re-sand a few times. As for equipment, you can invest a lot of money in same. I use mostly lint free cloths (old tee shirts work fine) to apply most of my finishes. Rubbing each coat out with fine steel wool or high grit sandpaper after it cures is the dominant key to a really fine finish.

High grit sandpaper can be obtained from Klingspor’s: http://www.woodworkingshop.com/

Warning Note: Avoid using steel wool in rubbing out a surface if you are going to follow up with a water base dye or finish – - – - Rust will result

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

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Fred Hargis

3928 posts in 1954 days


#3 posted 12-29-2014 08:15 PM

You don’t have to do anything special when using water soluble dyes for the grain raising part. Juts put the first coat of finish on, it locks all the fibers in place, then smooth it out (or apply another coat and then smooth, your choice) and your done with the grain raising part. Back to your question: an HVLP conversion gun can work really well but if you ave to borrow a compressor every time you want to spray, I think I would consider one of the less expensive turbine sprayers. The Earlex 5500 gets a lot of good press and would probably be less than a gun and a reasonable compressor.

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

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giser3546

179 posts in 933 days


#4 posted 12-29-2014 08:27 PM

Appreciate it guys, as usual I seemed to have over complicated this in my head. It would seem like the best course of action would be getting some water soluble powder transfast dye. Being that this first project will be on pine I assume I’ll have to put on a layer of shellac and once its dry apply some transfast, would I still have to worry about the grain raising? Will the water based dye give me trouble when applying to a presealed surface?

-- "If you wait for it to rain, It will"

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pintodeluxe

4853 posts in 2274 days


#5 posted 12-29-2014 09:11 PM

Appling a topcoat with the color in it is called tinting. It can be done with shellac, lacquer, and other topcoats. I find it the hardest finishing method to get right. Even spray tinting is challenging, but I would not attempt to brush or wipe it on. It will streak for sure.
I have had good luck with water based dye, but I always pre-raise the grain with water. Then lightly sand the bare wood before you apply the dye.

As far as application of the topcoat, spraying is my favorite. I think lacquer sprays much better than shellac. Without a retarder, shellac can actually dry before it hits the wood.

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

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Fred Hargis

3928 posts in 1954 days


#6 posted 12-29-2014 10:26 PM

Once the grain is sealed, it doesn’t matter what you put on it, no more grain raising.

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

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Sawdust4Blood

392 posts in 2482 days


#7 posted 12-29-2014 11:44 PM

I like using Transtint because I can use either water or alcohol as a solute and I’ve used both successfully. I’ve also used it to tint shellac though I am less enthused about doing that and I would only spray it (I’m prone to spraying anyhow and spray most of my finishes). Spraying can be super easy and a joy with a good set up but it can also be super frustrating with a cheapo gun. Right now I’m using an Earlex 6900 HVLP turbine and love it but it didn’t come cheap. On the other hand, I spent a couple hundred bucks on a lot of poorly suited spraying equipment before I wised up and and ponied up for the Earlex

-- Greg, Severn MD

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