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There are many different ways to apply and polish shellac. Some people pour the liquid directly on the surface. Others filter the liquid through a cloth dabber. Still others polish with alcohol. This article will explain the process of both types of applications. Listed below are several tips and tricks that will make the process go more smoothly. And while polishing with alcohol will leave your piece looking better than ever, it will also save you a lot of money.
Pouring on shellac
Almost any type of application technique can be used for shellac. The method used will depend on the size of the project and the film thickness you want to achieve. Thick coats take longer to dry and will require more work in between, while thin coats will take less time and have less rub out. You can use a brush on large, flat surfaces, although a one-and-a-half pound cut is preferred, because it will minimize the risk of brush marks.
When you’re pouring on shellac, start by preparing the wood surface. Be sure to clean it thoroughly with water. If it’s painted, make sure to dry the surface completely with a clean cloth. Then, fill a separate container with the shellac and pour a small amount onto the surface. Make sure you do not pour too much or you’ll end up wasting material. Also, be sure to pour a small amount on the surface before moving on to the rest of the piece.
Shellac comes in a variety of shades. You can purchase it in flakes. Clear shellac flakes are the most common, and should be used for light-colored wood. You can also mix it with Amber to get a darker finish. You can find both Clear and Amber shellac at your local grocery store. As a bonus, shellac has more color options, making it the perfect finish for many different types of wood.
Shellac is fast-drying and can be applied with a brush or a cotton rag. If you are new to applying shellac to wood, you may be wondering what this substance does for it, and how many layers you should put on the surface. Before pouring on shellac, you need to clean the surface with denatured alcohol. This will remove any residue that could cause the surface to crack.
The process of filtering shellac involves removing undissolved matter from the resinous substance, known as the insolubles. The insolubles are the most polluting components of shellac, and their removal is essential to maintaining its purity. These materials are often regarded as “insolubles,” meaning they will remain undissolved after the resinous compound has been mixed with hot alcohol. The process is monitored to ensure that undesirable materials are removed as completely as possible.
To begin, pour a small amount of a solvent into a container that holds a glass of alcohol. Use a food scale to measure the volume. You will need approximately two pounds of alcohol. To obtain about two ounces of shellac, mix 2 oz of flakes with 16 oz. Alcohol is another important step in the process. Next, filter the liquid through a fine mesh cheesecloth. To dye shellac, you may want to add a small amount of an alcohol-based dye. For a pure color, you can use super-blond shellac.
Once the solvent is removed, shellac is ready to be applied to your surface. The process is simple and fast, which means that you can apply multiple coats in as little as one hour. Unlike other sealants, shellac requires no sanding between coats. And because it is so universal, it does not need to be cured before the second coat is applied. Once the shellac has dried, it has a protective layer against moisture and odors. It does not react with most solvents, making it a safe choice for furniture.
Shellac is a natural substance produced by a female insect called a lac beetle. The insect eats sap from three kinds of trees in southwest Asia and excretes lac onto its branch. The resin is harvested by hand, but most of it is refined by machinery, heat, and solvent. This process is called “seedlac” due to its appearance. After being forced through the screen, it is melted and forced into thin sheets of shellac.
Applying shellac with a cloth dabber
You can apply shellac using a cloth dabber or paintbrush to the wood surface. This method is easy, yet will not give you an even coating. However, be aware that shellac is highly sensitive to heat. In fact, it starts to soften at 150°F. Nevertheless, it is easily repaired if it is scratched or marred by a hot object.
When applying shellac, the consistency of the film should be thin enough to wipe away with a rag. You don’t want your shellac to feel sticky when you wipe it off. If the film is too thick, you can use a mineral oil-and-spirit mix to make it easier to sand. The alcohol content of the shellac makes it very volatile.
The next step in applying shellac is to prepare a white sock or cloth. Using a white sock or cloth dabber will help you avoid uneven coverage. A muslin or lint-free polishing cloth will help you pad the shellac properly. To use a cloth dabber, cut a 12-inch square of medium-weight cotton muslin or lint-free polishing cloth.
If you are painting a flat surface, you can use a brush instead of a cloth dabber. The trick is not to use a brush too soon, because shellac dries quickly, and brushes may cause a puddle or marring. For this reason, practice is essential. The following book is an excellent reference for shellac and wood finishing.
Before applying shellac, it is important to know how much shellac you need. A good rule of thumb is that you need a thin layer of shellac and a thin one. For new wood, shellac will penetrate quickly. It will dry in about an hour, and you can scuff-sand raised fibers. To apply shellac with a cloth dabber, follow the directions below.
Using alcohol to polish shellac
When you’re planning to polish your shellac finish, you should use a solvent that’s 99% denatured alcohol. This is not the same thing as rubbing alcohol, which contains as much as 50% water. Rubbing alcohol has a bad odor and is also contaminated with toxins, making it a poor choice for polishing shellac. Instead, choose 190 proof denatured alcohol.
During the summer, shellac can cake up, a process known as “blocking” in the industry. While this is unsanitary, it can be removed by breaking it up with a hammer or by dissolving it in alcohol. This method is also safe to use on pieces that are prone to scratches. The following are some disadvantages of alcohol as a polishing solvent:
To use alcohol for polishing shellac, start by mixing the correct amount of the solvent into the bottle. If you can’t find the proper solvent, use denatured alcohol. However, if the shellac is too thick, you may try using pure grain alcohol. The latter will build the finish faster and will not affect the drying time. While methyl hydrate is not a suitable solvent for polishing shellac, it does have a better consistency and doesn’t evaporate as quickly as ethanol.
Using denatured alcohol as a polishing solvent will help you apply shellac on surfaces that are rough. Alcohol should never be too wet on the pad, as it can wipe off the fresh shellac finish. Instead, a few drops of alcohol applied to a dry pad will “spirit off” any oil that may be left in the shellac after polishing. This method will prevent any unnecessary refinishing of your furniture.
Using pumice to polish shellac
When using a polishing pad, you can make hundreds of passes over the surface. Apply the shellac on the pad in three layers, allowing it to dry between coats. Adding oil to the pad between coats helps it stick. Use a fine thin oil to lubricate the pad as it moves over the shellac layer. The oil can be fine mineral oil, baby oil, or virgin olive.
Alternatively, you can mix your own shellac at home. A good formula is three ounces of shellac flakes dissolved in sixteen ounces of denatured alcohol. Mix the two in a glass jar or squirt bottle and keep it on hand. Once you have the mixture, pour a small amount of shellac into a shallow bowl. You can repeat as necessary until the desired level of finish is achieved.
Next, prepare a new cover and add ten drops of alcohol to it. Press it against your hand to evenly distribute the alcohol. Once you’ve mixed the new cover, start applying the shellac. It’s best to work in small sections to avoid sweeping the pumice out of the pores. Make sure to avoid working against the grain of the wood, as this may result in uneven patches or blotches.
Pumice powder can also be used to smooth a rough shellac surface. Sprinkle a small amount over the affected area, and it’ll cause a slight abrasive action, laying down a layer of fine shellac. The amount of pumice powder to use depends on the amount of shellac to be leveled. A thin layer of pumice powder can work well for this, but you should be aware that the final finish may be less than perfect.