Waxed shellac vs dewaxed shellac

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Forum topic by ol104 posted 01-22-2015 05:12 PM 2235 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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56 posts in 1405 days

01-22-2015 05:12 PM

Hey guys – i am finishing up 2 benches for a client. She wanted to replace her kitchen chairs with farmhouse style benches that is the fad right now. She wanted the benches out of Pine.

The goal is to match the table. The table is a dark amber color with a coat of semi gloss poly or lacquer.

I can achieve almost a perfect match by using Amber shellac. However the only amber shellac i can find is of the waxed variety. Since it is pine and they will be used daily, i really want to add a few coats of poly to the top for protection. Rule of thumb is poly wont adhere to waxed shellac?

Would this idea work..? Use the Amber waxed shellac and build to the color that i want. Then apply a top coat of clear dewax shellac, then add the poly? Will the dewaxed shellac bond to the basecoats of waxed shellac?

The woodwhisperer did a video and was able to get poly to stick to a waxed shellac, but that was only using it as a very light coat.

Any thoughts? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

14 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile (online now)

Fred Hargis

3841 posts in 1912 days

#1 posted 01-22-2015 05:19 PM

That won’t necessarily work. Shellac dissolves into itself, so some wax may be carried to the top. It’s a sometimes thing having problems with urethane finishes on waxy shellac, so what i suggest: gamble and use the urethane and hope for the best; there’s a likely chance you will be OK….or, use a different varnish. If you use an alkyd resin varnish instead of urethane there are no problems. Urethanes inhibit adhesion, that’s also why you have to scuff sand between coats. So if you were to use say, Pratt and Lambert 38 (alkyd resin/ soya oil formula) or Sherwin Williams Fast Dry Oil Varnish (alkyd resin/linseed oil formula) you will have no problems at all.

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

View JayT's profile


4671 posts in 1630 days

#2 posted 01-22-2015 05:42 PM

I’ve seen that same woodwhisperer video and post. Since then I’ve done several projects with poly over waxed amber shellac and have never had problems.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View jakep_82's profile


105 posts in 1725 days

#3 posted 01-22-2015 05:46 PM

Dewaxed amber shellac is available from I bought a sample pack from them and I’ve been very happy with it so far. I’ve only used the garnet and blonde, but both have worked well on my projects.

It’s also available from, but I’ve never used them.

View pintodeluxe's profile


4824 posts in 2232 days

#4 posted 01-22-2015 06:02 PM

1+ order dewaxed amber shellac. Do test samples all the way through topcoating to see how it looks and performs.

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

View chrisstef's profile


15459 posts in 2425 days

#5 posted 01-22-2015 06:23 PM

I mixed up some button lac the other night and as of last night there was a good amount of separation between then wax and the shellac. Could you just skim the shellac off the top of the waxy build up at the bottom? Im sure there would be some wax in it but hopefully not enough to screw up your top coat.

Ive used without any issues before FYI

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View bondogaposis's profile


3969 posts in 1770 days

#6 posted 01-22-2015 07:02 PM

De-waxed shellac is easy to get, just order it.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View pjones46's profile


986 posts in 2062 days

#7 posted 01-22-2015 07:36 PM

If you are going to use a oil-based poly there will be no problem over coating the regular Shellac, However if you are going to use Lacquer, you must use de-waxed.

-- Respectfully, Paul

View ol104's profile


56 posts in 1405 days

#8 posted 01-22-2015 08:29 PM

Thanks for the responses everyone. Up against a deadline to have them done, so no time to order de-waxed amber flakes unfortunately. I was hoping to be able to use my water based polycrylic so that i could spray it.

View OSU55's profile


1039 posts in 1409 days

#9 posted 01-22-2015 10:01 PM

Use Sealcoat or other dewaxed shellac. Go to Woodcraft and get some Transtint dye, honey amber is probable the color you want, but there are many and can be mixed. The Transtint can be added directly to the shellac (waxed or dewaxed). I buy blonde shellac and tint to whatever I need. You can then spray your WB topcoats, which can also be tinted with Transtint directly.

View DrDirt's profile


4135 posts in 3161 days

#10 posted 01-22-2015 10:28 PM

Cant say it will for sure be a problem…. but as others said just get the dewaxed.

while I would be OK doing poly over waxed on a small project/box…I think that a surface that is going to have wear from peoples butts shifting on it, and rivets from the blue-jeans etc. I would want a “for sure” durable surface for abrasion, so would be looking at a thicker poly layer than Marc Spagnuolo was using.

Again…. don’t KNOW it would be a problem.. But it is easy to return a box to fix the finish…. not so easy with a bench. Why risk a bad review/upset customer?

I got my flakes from Homestead finishes….. I also got my hot hide glue there and transtint dyes.
The don’t however seem to have the amber. Only the colors below.

Dewaxed Platina (Ultra Pale)
Dewaxed Super Blonde (Extra Pale)
Dewaxed Orange
Dewaxed Dark Garnet

-- 'Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners' ~George Carlin

View Fred Hargis's profile (online now)

Fred Hargis

3841 posts in 1912 days

#11 posted 01-22-2015 10:34 PM

Thanks for the responses everyone. Up against a deadline to have them done, so no time to order de-waxed amber flakes unfortunately. I was hoping to be able to use my water based polycrylic so that i could spray it.

- ol104

The language used in finishes can be easily misinterpreted. In your original post you referred to “poly”. In it’s most common use on these forums, that would refer to an oil based poly varnish, and such a finish has some likelihood of not sticking to a waxy shellac. Polycrylic however, is not “poly”, it’s a predominantly acrylic waterborne finish with a small amount of urethane so they can label they friggin’ stuff as “polyurethane” (IMHO). This becomes important, since many of the replies seem to be based on the “poly” part in your post (I know mine was). Now, acrylic finishes can have problems with waxy shellac; but the likelihood is a lot less. You have a better chance of the Polycrylic working over your amber shellac than you would with a poly varnish. That said, there is still some chance it won’t work…...

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

View gfadvm's profile


14929 posts in 2109 days

#12 posted 01-23-2015 01:30 AM

Chairs and benches were finished for MANY years with shellac only. It is way more durable than it gets credit for and is super easy to repair if necessary. I would go with just shellac since it matches well.

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

View ol104's profile


56 posts in 1405 days

#13 posted 01-23-2015 01:32 AM

Thanks again for responses everyone. I should have been more clear about the Polycrylic. Due to it being winter here in Ohio, I have to stick to spraying the waterbased items for the time being since it is being done indoors and the odor from them is at least tolerable to the Mrs. I am going to stop by the local Woodcraft or Woodwerks (great Columbus store) to see what their inventory of dewaxed shellac is. I had a gift card to the Big Orange box store and all they carry is waxed in Amber. I like the idea of tinting the dewaxed blonde shellac so I will check into the transtint selection as well. This is one of those projects that has been on the bench for too long and I just want to be done with it. I have to force myself to slow down and get the color and finish right.

Take care!

View Michael girardi's profile

Michael girardi

1 post in 493 days

#14 posted 06-18-2015 06:01 AM

Zinsser clear shellac sealer not sanding sealer with 3 percent wax same as amber. I used the clear i have tung and grove pine in my whole work shop. I wanted the nautural look the shellac went on like water so i gave it one coat waited a hour gave it another coat. Im a gloss man with wood. It had nothing to my likeing it made the pine like golden oak minwax and needed a sanding. Waited two days hit it with 320 by hand. Went to lowes and got the quarts of laquer high gloss and one hell of a brush. The laquer went on beautifull like a piece of furniture. The can said if you wait six hours you would have to resand. So in two hours i went over it quick and fast a could not believe how smooth and shiny my tung and grove came. So on a shellac with wax what is 3 percent nothing. Down fall the shop stunk for a week.

-- Michael girardi

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