Finish question


I recently completed a small night table/end table. It was the first thing I've done in quite a while, I am fairly happy with how it came out. One exception. I finished it with tung oil followed by 6 coats of Shellac, then some furniture wax. I was very happy with the finish as well. I placed it next to the bed and put the usual things on it, small lamp, alarm clock, etc. Now I notice there are areas of the finish which are damaged. The impressions of the base of the lamp and even the small alarm clock are permanently in the finish. I can fix this easily, but I don't understand why it happened. This is the first time I have used shellac. Is this typical? What did I do wrong? Did I not give the finish enough time to cure? How long does it take?
Thanks for any input. -Rob
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You didn't give it enough time to cure. It's hard to say exactly how long it takes, because that depends on (among other things) temperature, humidity, the number of coats, and the strength of the shellac -- but I would have waited at least 48 hours before putting anything on there.
I suspect that you may also have used too much shellac. You don't say what cut of shellac you were using, but it seems to me that six coats is kinda heavy for the typical 3-pound cut; I probably would have stopped at three or four, or used a lighter cut. You may also be applying heavier coats than you need to. Three light coats are better than one heavy coat.
The good news is that you're right, you probably can fix it easily. Here's how I'd try to do it:
Wipe it down with mineral spirits first, to remove the wax -- not just in the damaged areas, but on the *entire* tabletop. Then sand the entire top with 400-grit wet-or-dry sandpaper over a sanding block (not your hand), using mineral spirits or oil as a lubricant, until the damage is no longer visible. Wipe clean with mineral spirits, and allow plenty of time to dry (several hours). Apply another coat or two of shellac. Wait two or three days, then wax it.
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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wrote:

[snip]
Is it possible that the shellac was old and didn't cure completely?
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The Shellac may also be old. It is best to buy flake Shellac and dissolve it as you need it. It will harden very quickly when padded on in thin layers. Old stuff gets soft and gummy. Bugs
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