Shellac is way to fragile for that environment. It is disolved by
alcohol, so spilling some cologne or other items in the bathroom will
be a solvent.
Yes, Poly is the best bet. It can be hard to get a good finish with
poly if you aren't familiar with applying it.
1. It can change the color of the wood slightly.
2. It can easily attract dust while drying because it typically takes
a long time to get a dry film.
3. Application problems from drips to orange peeling to a too thick
application that looks like plastic.
Not to scare you off, just impressing that you should familiarize
yourself completly with the materiasl and process on some scraps
before commiting to the real piece.
Many folks fine wipe on poly a great solution for application when you
don't have a spray setup, etc. Much easier to get a good result than
brushing only. Again, if you go this route, try out the process until
you get good at ot and a result you like.
I prefer 3 or 4 very thin coats. I thin standard poly 50% or more with
mineral spirits to make my own. Apply with a brush then wipe down with
a rag dampened with the same solution until almost none on surface at
all. If thin enough, you can barely tell it is on there but still get
a film protection. You can also build to a greater finish. Always
lighty sand between coats after 12 hours or more of dry time. Use 400
or even 0000 steel wool or maroon synthetic scrub pad. .
I did one with shellac as the base coat, and spar varnish wiped on three or
four coats over that. It has survived just fine so far.
The shellac was a first cut, and likely is not needed. Live and learn.
But it looks nice.
Maple and cherry. The cherry is just now darkening nicely...
Among the one-component systems a precatalyzed lacquer would be a good
bet, but that's not something you'll find at a BORG, because it has a
very limited shelf life after the catalyst is added.
For something with reasonable durability and very easy application,
Minwax wipe-on polyurethane would be a good bet.
Shellac's chemistry isn't tough enough for bathroom use. It dissolves
in alcohol so spilled aftershave will leave a mark, and it isn't very
water resistant. Poly on the other hand is tough as nails, nothing
attacks it short of paint remover. I've used it topside on yachts and
it stands up to sun, saltwater, rubbing against the pier, and other
abuse. Bathroom use isn't gonna stress poly.
Was it me, I'd do three coats of gloss poly, sanding with 220 grit
between coats. The last sanding will leave a matte sheen. If I wanted
more gloss, I'd put a coat of Butcher's wax on after the last sanding.
Shortcuts. I might use shellac for the first coat, 'cause it goes on a
little easier and dries faster and sands out easier and the two topcoats
of poly will protect it.
Before doing the poly, I'd decide if I liked the color of the wood as
is, or maybe stained mahogany or walnut or a light pine or what ever.
Do the stain first. A coat of poly or shellac prevents the stain from
I'm halfway thru a bathroom medicine cabinet made from poplar. I was
going to stain it with a light tan stain (colonial pine perhaps) and
then go with three brush coats of poly.
Fresh dewaxed (emphasis) is very moisture resistant. It's one of the
reasons it's used to coat medicinal pill and confections. Shellac that
contains wax or has esterified becomes less resistance to moisture.
Well, yeah, but it doesn't really matter -- even if shellac were completely
water-PROOF, it still would be a bad choice for a bath vanity because it
dissolves readily in alcohol (which is the primary constituent of most
perfumes, colognes, aftershaves, etc.). One aftershave spill, and the finish
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
I agree it isn't a good choice for a bathroom even though I use straight
alcohol to "clear" (remove the oil) after french polishing a surface.
If the aftershave spill was wiped off promptly it wouldn't harm the
I don't recommend shellac in the bathroom because of the products used
to clean the bathroom.
Yep, forgot about that one... That would seem to make shellac a spectacularly
poor choice of finish for any surface within two feet^H^H^H^Hmiles of a toilet
in a household that has little boys. DAMHIKT.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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