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  • Brushing on shellac

    I just applied the second coat on a pantry I am working on and the finish appears un even. I am using a 2lb cut. Should I expect the finish to even out with more coats,or should I sand before the next coat? Would a lighter coat be easier to apply evenly?
    Cabinet is a combination of solid red oak and red oak veneer plywood
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  • #2

    Re: Brushing on shellac

    I flipped the cabinet and applied the second coat to the opposite side.i refined my technic taking much longer strokes,moving much faster and it looks better than the first side.Now I must decide if I need to sand the blotchy side,or continue with the third coat
    nnieman likes this.

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    • #3

      Re: Brushing on shellac

      Shellac dries really quickly which makes it hard to brush on evenly. Have you considered padding it on?
      Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

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      • #4

        Re: Brushing on shellac

        Originally posted by iguana View Post
        Shellac dries really quickly which makes it hard to brush on evenly. Have you considered padding it on?
        i was not aware of padding,just read a article on it.pob too late for this project,may try it in the future.
        thanks

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        • #5

          Re: Brushing on shellac

          Originally posted by al.m.. View Post

          i was not aware of padding,just read a article on it.pob too late for this project,may try it in the future.
          thanks
          I pad it on as well, it dries too fast for me to get a nice coat using a brush

          Nathan

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          • #6

            Re: Brushing on shellac

            You can thin it further if you wish. It does dry fast in the winter. I assume you are sanding between coats. You can also put clear polyurethane over shellac but you must sand the shellac. Try it on a test piece to be sure it doesn't throw the colour off.
            I'm not getting older, I'm getting worse.
            Bob
            Member Valley Woodturners

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            • #7

              Re: Brushing on shellac

              Originally posted by Bobmezz View Post
              You can thin it further if you wish. It does dry fast in the winter. I assume you are sanding between coats. You can also put clear polyurethane over shellac but you must sand the shellac. Try it on a test piece to be sure it doesn't throw the colour off.
              i sanded after the first coat ,well,not sanded,used green scotch bright. What grit paper should I use after the second coat?the colour is close after the second ,may need one or two more coats to get the colour right. Should the grit of the paper get progressively finer as more coats are applied?

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              • #8

                Re: Brushing on shellac

                Very fine. 0000 steel wool is good. Just enough to give a bond to the next coat and maybe to level out any high spots.
                I'm not getting older, I'm getting worse.
                Bob
                Member Valley Woodturners

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                • #9

                  Re: Brushing on shellac

                  If you need a thick film then a brush is a good way to apply shellac, but as others have said you have to sand between coats to get out the drips and high spots. I sand between every coat, with P360 sandpaper (only use good sandpaper). I don't use a sanding block because it sands through the finish too easily. Use finger pressure and flex the sandpaper to bring down the high spots without over sanding the rest. I always do the final coat with a pad.

                  If it's something that needs a super-even finish (flat surfaces that will be conspicuous), then I usually pad it on, but you don't need a traditional pad/rubber. I use a shop cloth (those blue disposable rags that come in a roll), about 1/4 sheet for a pad (folded over into 6 layers). The disadvantage to padding is that you need a lot more coats to get a substantial film on. And if you use anything other than cotton (shop cloths are paper), you have to make sure the wood is sanded very finely and evenly, otherwise your pad will disintegrate fairly quickly and leave little tiny pieces all over the finish. I also sand between each coat, but with a pad the sanding is minimal and goes really quickly. You know you can sand when the shellac is not at all tacky and your fingers slide over it without sticking at all.

                  I also always finis shellac by sanding with P600 sandpaper and then 0000 steel wool. Then I apply a coat of wax (carnauba/beeswax mix). This gives a nice semi-gloss finish that stays clean.
                  nnieman likes this.
                  Frank
                  SPCHT

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                  • #10

                    Re: Brushing on shellac

                    I use fairly thin shellac usually, and I make mine with 99% isopropyl alcohol. This stuff does not dry as fast as other alcohols, which gives the finish more time to self-level when brushing it on. For typical flat surfaces I brush on three coats, waiting a day between each coat. Then I let it sit to dry for a week. I want it really dry before I sand, and then I wet sand with P600 and mineral oil. Then I pad on a few very thin coats, one right after the other, and wait another week. Finally, Wax and deliver.

                    The drying time seems long but it does make a difference to how hard the shellac gets and how well the sanding job works. I wait a long time on polyurethane finishes too. If you don't wait long enough there are still volatiles trapped in the layers that may soften or affect the surface later on. I have had failed finishes in the past that were a grave disappointment, but that no longer happens if I let the finish dry thoroughly at appropriate stages.

                    Darrell
                    starting work on some picture frames
                    Paul O in Paris and nnieman like this.
                    Wood Hoarder, Blade Sharpener, and Occasional Tool User

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                    • #11

                      Re: Brushing on shellac

                      Not to dissuade any one from using Shellac but it seems to have gained back it's popularity over the last few years. I have not touched shellac for probably 40 years and when I did use it most of the time it was for Pine knots and bleeding. I just think there are several newer and easier products to apply. The only thing I could offer regarding the brush strokes is much the same advice as when using poly, wet brush, long singular strokes, minimum overlap and don't play with it.
                      "Do it Right!"

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                      • #12

                        Re: Brushing on shellac

                        Hey Al. All advice notwithstanding, you should invest in this book. If there is such a thing as a finishing guru he's it.
                        http://www.leevalley.com/en/Wood/pag...096,43047&ap=1

                        More info on all kinds of finishing than you'll ever want to know.
                        smallerstick likes this.
                        I'm not getting older, I'm getting worse.
                        Bob
                        Member Valley Woodturners

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                        • #13

                          Re: Brushing on shellac

                          Originally posted by Bobmezz View Post
                          Hey Al. All advice notwithstanding, you should invest in this book. If there is such a thing as a finishing guru he's it.
                          http://www.leevalley.com/en/Wood/pag...096,43047&ap=1

                          More info on all kinds of finishing than you'll ever want to know.
                          That's the most detailed book on finishing, for sure. It was mentioned in the current FWW (issue 272) as an "essential shop tool".

                          If you don't want to buy new, there are many used copies available on abebooks and bookfinder.
                          The difference between a master and a beginner: The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.

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                          • #14

                            Re: Brushing on shellac

                            Originally posted by al.m.. View Post
                            i was not aware of padding,just read a article on it.pob too late for this project,may try it in the future.
                            Could you say where you found the article?

                            Thanks!

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                            • #15

                              Re: Brushing on shellac

                              Originally posted by smallerstick View Post
                              If you don't want to buy new, there are many used copies available on abebooks and bookfinder.
                              I just checked bookfinder, and it found lots of copies.

                              All on ebay.

                              All more expensive than Lee Valley! Some horrendously expensive - over $100.00CDN.

                              Is it worth checking abebooks? I have never heard of it before, so I don't know what kinds of things it finds.

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