"melting" shellac

A friend of mine collects old fountain pens. Frequently the barrel and the nib are sealed with shellac. He needs to soften and remove the shellac to restore the pen. The barrels may be of wood or plastic, the nib is of metal of course. Can you recommend a method of removing the shellac without damaging the plastic? Thanks Jerry
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Jerome Ranch wrote:

It's usual to do this over a spirit lamp. A candle will work too, but tends to be sootier. It isn't hard, but don't learn it on your oldest and rarest first! Very little heat is required. Don't use an electric hot air gun!
You might also like to read the very active alt.collecting.pens-and-pencils group (I might have the name wrong) where such things are frequently discussed There's also the late Frank Dubiel's book on the topic.
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Why wouldn't one simply soak it in ethyl alcohol?
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Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Doug Miller wrote:

Because using heat is quick and localised. There are a lot of things on a pen (including other shellac-locked attachments) that you don't want to dismantle at the same time.
Also I doubt if soaking would work in any useful time. We're talking about a shellaced screw thread here between two thin-walled cylinders. Heat through the cylinder is a short quick path, alcohol along the joint is a long and narrow path that would probably take weeks.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Shellac dissolves in alcohol/ketones, is eaten away by alkali. It also does melt. Curious - why risk the melt with the other two obvious choices?
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Thanks people This fellow is newsgroup savvy..I'm surprised he doesn't know about the usenet group on collecting pens I'll let him know Jerry

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