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Repairing a shellac finish?

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  • Repairing a shellac finish?

    I'm in the process of restoring an antique gun & have completed the stock & most of the metal work. I wanted a 'presentation finish' so I went with 2 coats of tung oil, filled the pores & then maybe 3-4 coats of clear shellac. Once that was leveled and sanded to 1000 grit, it got polished then waxed.

    So after the polishing "bald" spots started showing up, obviously cut through the shellac to the raw(ish) wood.

    I was wondering if there was a way to repair and blend these bald spots in without having to go through the entire finishing process?

    "bald" spots are circled:

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    Just an over all pic.... it's a Ballard Pacific Model 5. dates somewhere around 1870 I believe.

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  • #2

    Re: Repairing a shellac finish?

    Shellac finishes are often repaired by a cloth dampened with alcohol. The alcohol re-dissolves the shellac and spreads it around. Your issue may be a bit more complicated because of the oiling, filling and waxing. I'd try the alcohol trick first but only if you think the damaged area would still be OK, that is the tung oil part of the finish is still good. If it isn't then you are going to have to try a spot repair at least.
    I am a bit concerned about the wax though but all you can do is try.
    billh

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    • #3

      Re: Repairing a shellac finish?

      Originally posted by billh View Post
      Shellac finishes are often repaired by a cloth dampened with alcohol. The alcohol re-dissolves the shellac and spreads it around. Your issue may be a bit more complicated because of the oiling, filling and waxing. I'd try the alcohol trick first but only if you think the damaged area would still be OK, that is the tung oil part of the finish is still good. If it isn't then you are going to have to try a spot repair at least.
      I am a bit concerned about the wax though but all you can do is try.
      billh
      I'm not super worried about the wax, that's a quick job If I could remove the wax without affecting the shellac - that would be optimal to give this a try (basically a french "spot" polish I guess)

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      • #4

        Re: Repairing a shellac finish?

        Originally posted by sean69 View Post

        If I could remove the wax without affecting the shellac
        You need to use a solvent that will remove the wax but not the shellac, like mineral spirits or naptha or toluene.
        Be aware that these solvents may also remove some of the oil, but if you carefully apply it to the localised areas that effect will be minimal.
        After wax is gone, rework area with a shellac/alcohol solution, at a higher alcohol concentration than you used to apply the shellac.
        Good luck
        Paul

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        • #5

          Re: Repairing a shellac finish?

          Doesn't shellac/alcohol/ linseed ie French Polish work with wax ? One only uses dewaxed shellac as a sealer/ barrier coat. I have repolished some antiques that still have a trace of wax on them quite successfully
          nnieman likes this.

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          • #6

            Re: Repairing a shellac finish?

            I had a little piece I used to test out the finish on hand, sanded a little 'bald' spot into it, got some 99% isopropyl alcohol and tried 'pushing' the finish around ~ it kind of worked but the finish was obviously much thinner than the surrounding areas. I think I'm gonna have to strip off the wax and try again :(

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            • #7

              Re: Repairing a shellac finish?

              Originally posted by sean69 View Post
              I had a little piece I used to test out the finish on hand, sanded a little 'bald' spot into it, got some 99% isopropyl alcohol and tried 'pushing' the finish around ~ it kind of worked but the finish was obviously much thinner than the surrounding areas. I think I'm gonna have to strip off the wax and try again :(
              That’s probably the best idea.
              Im not 100% sure you need to strip off the wax. But it won’t be difficult and can’t hurt.


              Beautifull gun by the way.

              Nathan

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