Sealing/Finishing the inside of drawers?

I am refinishing an older oak dresser. I have stripped 3 layers of paint and will be applying a fresh coat of white latex the visible areas. (Front/Sides/Top).
My question involves the cleaning and finishing of the insides of the drawers. It seems like this piece has been sitting in the garage for some time (Got it from someone else). The wood is still in great condition, but the drawers are a little musty and dusty. I want to be able to use this to put baby clothes in and not get them dirty. I was thinking that painting in the drawers was overkill, but wondering what I should do?
I was thinking I should probably clean with mineral spirits then maybe some light sanding, but is there any type of simple sealer or finish that is designed for this purpose?
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Thanks,
David W. Lovell
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3-5 coats of water based poly. Water because you can recoat in a couple of hours. Wilson

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Wilson wrote:

I'm curious--why not shellac?

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--John
Reply to jclarke at ae tee tee global dot net
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Shellac is ideal for this purpose. You don't have to be good at applying it since it will be inside the drawers. You can even put it on with a rag. Put on a coat or two and then lightly sand it smooth. I routinely use shellac on the inside of drawers especially those used for baby or children's clothes. It seals in whatever is still in the wood and the sanding creates a smooth enough surface such that clothes do not snag on the errant splinter.
Good Luck.

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A 2nd vote for shellac, especially with old furniture. Some finishes (especially water base) may have trouble adhering to old and musty where you don't know what might have gotten into it. Shellac will stick to most anything. GerryG

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So I have read a lot that shellac is mostly used only on restoration of old furniture since it doesn't hold up well against water or alcohol. Obviously these things should be found inside baby dresser drawers! Just curious why shellac would be better than a varnish which seems to be more durable?
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David W. Lovell
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Odor. Closed drawers will retain the odor for some time. Shellac cures fast, some varnishes can take weeks to be completely odor free in a closed environment.
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It's been a while, but as I recall babies' drawers have a smell all their own....
I would suppose that other fast-evaporating solvent finish - lacquer - would do as well and can be delivered by aerosol.

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Shellac was the default finish for flooring for years, then varnish came on the scene.
wrote:

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Shellac holds up to water better than you might think.
Edwin Pawlowski is absolutely correct about the odor. Shellac also dries really quickly and does not have the odor of lacquer thinner either. It is relatively cheap. After thinning appropriately with alcohol, it can be applied with a rag without looking terrible. Lacquer can't. This makes shellac easier to use in tight interior corners. Best of all for the paranoid, it is non-toxic. While cured lacquer should be as well, the films are proprietary and no one will make the claim. Finally, if desired, it is the easiest finish to remove after wax.

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It's a matter of degree. While none of the common finishes will hold up to long-term water, shellac is not as fragile as one might think. It's use in restoration is primarily because much of the old furniture was originally finished with shellac. On that note, many of them are still in very good condition.
In new furniture I use it both inside drawers, and as a base coat for many other finishes. In the shop, a shellac finish is very durable for jigs and fixtures, and an occasional brush against alcohol and water has no effect. Repair is also easier.
As for using spray laquer instead, that should work just as well, simply more expensive. I'll also note that drawer insides typically do not get nearly the same thickness of finish that we apply on the outsides; just look at any typical piece of furniture. If I was finishing the outside with laquer and had some left in the gun, I'd just use it for the drawers.
GerryG
On Wed, 21 Jul 2004 06:34:18 GMT, "David"

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lightly sand then finish in whatever paint you'd like or if you want the wood to show use polyurethane, varnish, or shellac. Water based or water borne varnish is probably the easiest to use of the choices. Not positive but most likely the cheapest as well. Either way put a coat on let dry overnight or 24 hours if you have it then sand with fine grit sandpaper or sanding block, wipe with tack cloth or wet rag wrung out. Apply second coat watch corners for excess build up. most important tip about varnish poly or shellac is work it a little as possible, by working it i mean brushing or rolling (sponge or 1/4 nap mohair roller). These clear coatings with tack up very quickly and if you try to roll or brush back over a section thats has tacked up you will not like the results the coating will either leave a rough texture, pull up, or roll/ball up also leaving a very rough texture so apply the coating to the entire inside of drawer, unless reallly big drawer, then immediately and very quickly go back over everything in the same order you put it on in lightly with whatever your puttin it on with roller or brush. check for any runs, heavy or light spot, or foreign matter in the coating ie hairs bugs ect. If you paint,use some sort of gloss, anything from eggshell to high gloss will work. Flat finishes will allow anything spilled in the drawer to soak into the wood. With a glossy or even eggshell finish the liquid will just bead up. You said musty and dusty, if there are any water stains or mold you will need to seal these first with an alkyd or oil based primer or primer from a spray can will work in fact almost any spray paint makes an excelent primer/stain killer. Priming will also take care of any mold issues.
--
If it stands still I can paint it.
If it's moving I'll just have
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Clean them up best you can and wipe on a couple coats of 1 lb or so shellac.
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Larry Wasserman Baltimore, Maryland
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