shellac problems

maryinthefallsMay 30, 2013

We've spent the winter taking the paint off our gumwood trim in the living room. With the warm weather, we have been putting three coats of garnet and one coat of clear shellac on the cleaned wood. The results have been spectacular. Thank you to all those who have shared their wisdom in archived threads.

So the problem; the last thing shellaced was a window. The first three coats went on fine. After my DH put on the last coat, the late May sun came out and baked the sill. The finish bubbled, forming such deep craters that the only way to repair the damage was to remove everything with alcohol and start again. This time we covered the window with newspaper. The last coat went on four days ago, so I took down the paper this morning. This evening we find the sill has bubbled again. It's not as bad as before and has sorta been repaired with another clear coat.

My question is how long will this take to dry enough to stand the mid-day summer sun? Are we doing something wrong? Any thoughts from you old house gurus? Thanks in advanced for input.

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It'll do that. Worse perhaps because you applied coats too close together. The alcohol will "boil" out of the small fissures and pores. Then again, so will stripper.
It just might be advisable to use two coats of garnet, then a wiped on coat of gel varnish for durability on those sills, where water is likely to blow in, and the sun is vicious to shellac. My window sills look pretty bad too.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 9:47PM
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Hmmm. We usually waited 24hrs between coats, but we're up against an event deadline and only waited 12 hrs on this window. We've got a bad case of "just want to be done" right now. So maybe we hurried it along too fast. Well it's going to get a lot of dry time now.

Question about the varnish. Will it be the same gloss as the shellac? There are eleven other items in the LR and foyer that we did w/o problems and we'd like everything to match. We probably need to stick to three coats of garnet to keep the color right. Also, are you suggesting spar varnish or just regular varnish? To do the entire window with varnish or just the sill? And how long a wait should we give it before applying the varnish? I assume that the alcohol will need to be completely gone before the top sealing coat. Sorry about all the questions, but the rest is so beautiful, I just want to get this last little piece right.

Just when you think you've got all this down, this house likes to show us who is older and wiser. What was the original method done in the 20's?

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 10:34AM
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Wipe-on gel varnish. General finishes currently makes it. I stocked up on the now-discontinued Bartley product while I could. The satin will match nicely. It will add no color to speak of. It dries dust-free within an hour. Brush on with a foam brush and wipe it out with a soft cloth. Work fast, it sets up pronto.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 7:09PM
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Another option to look at is lacquer. Most of the finishes I have done in my hose are shellac but I have used lacquer in a few places as a substitute. You mention that you have a schedule for an event so may may want to look at the Deft spray lacquer. it's available in a lot of places and works in a pinch. Mask off the areas and spray on multiple light coats. I've used the satin finish with good results.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2013 at 12:29PM
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