is this shellac and what can I put over it?

Fori is not pleasedDecember 29, 2011

I started tackling the orangey mahogany trim in my 50s house. The finish is bad or gone (can't tell with the dirt and possible fixes over the years). It cleans up pretty well with mineral spirits, with lots of grey-green gunk coming off. It has spots where it turned white with water over the years (towel bar too close to the door jamb).

Is this likely shellac? I don't think I'll be able to strip it off entirely, whatever it is, so I'm wondering if there is anything I can put over it to protect it a bit. Can I just rub in a little polyurethane? Will it stick?

If I do get it stripped satisfactorily, what's the best finish for natural mahogany to maintain its yellowy goodness and chatoyance? I'm scared to try shellac. :/

Suggestions please? Thanks!

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Fori is not pleased

Oops. I'm not cleaning it with mineral spirits. I'm using denatured alcohol.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2011 at 2:51PM
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Yup, sounds like shellac.

Which is a terrible finish for wood subject to wet/moist conditions.

If you want to finish without changing the color, use a water based varnish.

If adding an amber tint is desirable, use an oil based varnish.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2011 at 8:15PM
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Not necessary to strip off the shellac. Varnish binds to shellac very well. Once you get the dirt and gunk removed with the DA, it's ready. Varnish is the way to go. General finishes makes an excellent water based varnish. For traditional oil based varnish, try Waterlox.

Get some nice China bristle brushes for the job. If you use the waterlox, soak the brushes promptly in turpentine to get them clean. Use a wire brush to get the paint brush bristles clean and straight. Good paint brushes should last for many years if cleaned properly.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2011 at 12:06PM
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Fori is not pleased

Thanks guys. Whatever it is, it's coming off entirely with the alcohol. This stuff is incredibly dirty!

    Bookmark   December 31, 2011 at 9:16PM
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"Once you get the dirt and gunk removed with the DA, it's ready."

If you are using denatured alcohol on shellac you are removing the finish.

Pint thinner is the 'go to' cleaner for finishes since it dos not damage them unless you leave a lot on for a long time (it usually evaporates unless it is covered with something).

Thick shellac finishes can provide adhesion problems for varnish.
Thin shellac finishes are rarely a problem if they are clean

    Bookmark   January 1, 2012 at 11:13AM
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