Shellac finish vs polyurathane

I have a couple 16" X 16" square columns/post in my living room that I am veneering the top 2/3 with rustic alder veneer looking for a "rustic" appearance when done). After staining...which would be the better finish....treated with clear shellac...or with a satin or clear polyurethane ....and what are the benefits..cons...of each ?
Thanks, TR
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It is hard to give a definitive answer about what is the "best" finish. If you search groups.google.com on this subject you can find a lot of opinions on this topic from this newsgroup.
Then there's this, from the shellac.net website: http://www.shellac.net/why.html
Polyurethane is more wear resistant, more water resistant, harder, therefore more likely to wear well. Shellac is far easier to repair if that is needed.
Alder is soft, so the extra hardness of poly may be of some benefit. I recently made a picture frame using alder and finished with shellac; I had to handle it pretty carefully to avoid denting it.
But I like the look of shellac a lot more.
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As the project sound like it will receive little wear, spills, etc. Go with the better looking and easier finish the shellac.
Tom
TimR wrote:

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As the project sound like it will receive little wear, spills, etc. Go with the better looking and easier finish the shellac.
Tom
TimR wrote:

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TimR wrote:

Rustic? I'd go with a danish oil. Oil would look good, but a film-forming finish (like a danish oil) is just a bit more easily hard wearing.
You certainly don't want any poly anywhere near it. Far too "plasticky" and definitely not rustic. Shellac is OK, but it also tends to look a bit formal in comparison to oils.
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Thanks for the insight...we have found a stain that fits perfectly with our goal...Minwax golden oak on the knotty akder....would I use natural danish oil over this on the veneer ?
Also...will be "milling" our own baseboard/casings...etc....would danish oil provide enough "protection" for this type woodwork also ?
Thanks, Tim

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[...snip...]

In my experience, Danish oil isn't really a finish that stands up against any kind of wear. I wouldn't use it for baseboards. If you want a clear(ish) finish on that, I would go with the poly.
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What kind of wear does baseboard get? Mine just sort of sits there, mostly behind furniture.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

The visible sections are subjected to bumps & rubs from vacuum cleaners, mop splashes, bumps & rubs from furniture arranging, the occasional splash from a window left open, and of course, pets. Not the same kind of wear as the flooring, but also not like a prized antique.
Once upon a time, I worked on a flooring crew, and the difference in condition between exposed base and the stuff behind furniture was usually noticeable in existing homes.
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Poly out of the can looks plasticky, but with some time and elbow grease, it can be made to look very nice. It must be finished by wet sanding (600 grit), pumice, rottenstone, wax.
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Then it looks like shiny plastic.
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Not at all. I saw an article in Wood magazine so I tried it on a chest that I recently re-finished. It has a nice satin sheen, comparable to a very good lacquer job. My arm was sore for two days after all the polishing, sort of like puberty all over again.
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