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Experts pleeez help! Shellac troubles

Posted by flowermum (My Page) on
Sun, Jun 27, 10 at 19:06

In my heart I'm a Norma from New Yankee Workshop, but in reality I'm a novice, so far. A girl can always dream! lol

I'm making a small table top, very simple, very plain. I stained it using Minwax to achieve the dark rich color I wanted. I then wanted it to have a beautiful glossy sheen but I didn't want to use something that would be off-gassing/stinky for a long time.

So I decided to use shellac. (I did wait fully until the stain had dried before applying the shellac.) The first coat seemed to be beautiful. I then sanded with 220 and applied a second coat. After the second coat I looked closely at it and thought I had applied the shellac too thickly. I didn't know how to fix it. I searched the net trying to find solutions and answers, with no luck.

Can someone tell me how to proceed now?

Today I sanded lightly with 180 to try and take down the thick muddled areas, and then I sanded with 220. The board felt amazingly smooth. So I thought it was ready for another coat of shellac. I used a foam brush this time thinking it would hold more shellac and provide a nice even coat.

This coat appeared to be going well until I started to overlap the brush strokes. I soon realized my error and tried not to overlap the brush strokes.

Now the problem is that some areas are "low" and the shellac looks like it didn't take in certain spots. So now I'm off to sand again with 220 only, and see what happens this time.

Next question: Upon my final coat, what do I do to get rid of the dusty look from the sanding? I read on the net to wax but some say you don't have to wax. Can I just use mineral oil or something similar?

The directions on the Zinsser Bullseye Clear Shellac are not detailed.

Also, when I rested my palm on the board today after it dried, my palm left an imprint. Is this just the characteristic of shellac or should I just try not to touch it so heavy-handed until I have polished it?

thanks a million in advance!

sorry so long winded


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Experts pleeez help! Shellac troubles

Hi,
your canned shellac has two drawbacks. It's too thick, and it contains a wax impurity.
The thickness can be improved by thinning it with 1 part of alcohol for every 3 parts of shellac.
You can't easily get rid of the wax (it does settle to the bottom of the can after a while, but there will only be an inch or two of pure clear de-waxed shellac on top)
I strongly recommend using de-waxed shellac at all times. You can now buy it pre-mixed (used to be the only way to have dewaxed was to mix it yourself from dry shellac flakes dissolved in alcohol).
Zinsser "Sealcoat" is a 2 lb. cut (already thinned out for optimal brushing!) of dewaxed clear shellac. You can apply four coats per day with no slow-drying issues whatever.
Dewaxed shellac dries harder, faster. No more handprints.
When you sand between coats of shellac, you can wipe off the surface with a microfiber cloth &/or vacuum, but don't worry about using a tack rag because the shellac dust re-dissolves into the next coat.
After two days of final drying time, use furniture wax (like Johnson's or Butcher's) applied with the grain in some 0000 steel wool, and buff with a woolen rag. That's the most satiny smooth finish.
Casey


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RE: Experts pleeez help! Shellac troubles

Ditch the foam brushes.

Buy some shellac flakes and dissolve them in denatured alcohol.

this is the only way to know how old the dissolved shellac is, get exactly what you zant (and need0 and control the cut (pounds of shellac to gallons of alcohol).

Shellac is rather forgiving of drips, sags, and surface defects, but the paper you are using is WAY to coarse.

Think more along the lines of 400 and 600 wet or dry paper, with paraffin oil as the lubricant for shellac (water is a non-starter with shellac).

It does take practice with a good brush and technique to get a good final coat.

Adding some extra alcohol to the the final coat lets it flatten better (and even melt some defects in to the surface) before the alcohol evaporate.


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RE: Experts pleeez help! Shellac troubles

Oh thank you both for the information! You mean denatured alcohol, right?

sorry, remember, novice here.


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RE: Experts pleeez help! Shellac troubles

I can only add a few more things:

- I'll bet on the handle of the foam brush it says something like "Not for use with lacquer or shellac." I've never seen one that did not say this.

- Only SealCoat is a dewaxed shellac. All the other canned Zinnser products contain wax.

Shellac is a great finish, but it does have a learning curve, like any other finish.

- Shelf life of shellac is short, mostly about a year. SealCoat has a longer shelf life due to different solvents. If you bought your Bullseye from a place that has low turnover (i.e., "Use this here polyurethane...") then it might be stale and will never properly harden. I know SealCoat has a manufacture date on the lid, I don't know about the others.

- You have put it on too thickly. It's not meant to pile up.

Here is a link that might be useful: Shellac tutorial


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RE: Experts pleeez help! Shellac troubles

If you want to learn to apply a proper finish, you should buy a book that explaines the procedure. My suggestion would be FOOLPROOF WOOD FINISHING by Teri Massaschi. This is the book with the best instructions that are easy to understand, in my opinion.


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RE: Experts pleeez help! Shellac troubles

Bobsmyuncle---thank you for the information and the link!

The foam brush package said, 'for all paints and stains.' The Zinsser can has a stamp date of July 09. I read it's supposed to have an extended shelf life.

It's frustrating to me because the packaging on the can is very misleading. They would have you to believe this product is very easy to use and apply. However, I have since learned otherwise.

I really thought this was the perfect solution. Ease of application, quick drying, and non-toxic. I'm going to give it some time to harden, although I don't know right now whether I should use alcohol to thin the application.

Could I remove the shellac with the alcohol and start over? There are four coats on now.

I will continue to research and use the invaluable info you all have so kindly offered.

Thanks again for taking the time to answer my plea.

: )


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RE: Experts pleeez help! Shellac troubles

"Could I remove the shellac with the alcohol and start over? "

No. You need to put this project aside for a few days and let all the coats of shellac harden. Do not mess with it until then. Alcohol will soften the finish and redissolve just the surface layer. Then it will quickly get sticky and messy. The places it is globbed will get bigger globs and the places it is thin will get thinner. Alcohol will make the situation worse and then set you back more drying time.

The best approach is to sand off the excess product. It is time to sand when the finish sands off with dust. Shellac has a tendency to gum up the paper, even when completely dry, so change the paper often. Once the surface is smooth, put a coat of DE-WAXED shellac (Zinsser seal coat). The next day, give a light sanding, and then put on a topcoat of varnish, polyurethane, or water-based urethane. I do not recommend shellac as a table top-coat, but it is an excellend sealer and grain filler. I would recommend water based urethane for your choice. It has all the qualities you seek in a wood coating: no odor, fast drying, gloss finish, and very durable. My favorite water-based wood finish right now is "Sierra" made by Rust-oleum, available at Kelly Moore paint store. Sierra is a clear paint base without pigment added, for use indoors and outdoors. Untinted paint bases are generally viewed, by woodworkers, to be more durable than all other clear wood finishes.


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RE: Experts pleeez help! Shellac troubles

Someone2010---thank you for the book rec. I will certainly check that out.

Thank you also Aidan.

I did decide to just park this project. I decided to let it sit for a week and then do the rub out for a semi-gloss finish. However, after reading your post, this sounds like a good idea also.

For me, this has been kinda confusing because it seems there are so many different opinions and techniques. I found youtube videos and everyone has their own way of doing things.

But that is true art though, each artist 'paints' in their own unique way, with each piece of work being beautiful.

thanks guys, I will post a pix when I have rubbed my way out of this!

he-he
: )


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