shellac mixing and dewaxing


hi woodworkers,
i have a couple shellac questions. i have used lacquer, varnish, and oil/varnishes before, but this is my first time with shellac.
i bought a pound of orange shellac flakes from lee valley, and some shellac thinner (basically alcohol). i mixed up a 3 pound cut.
1. i was surprised how much flakes i had in the jar. i am pretty sure i worked everything out right, but i basically had the whole jar full of shellac flakes and added about an inch of alcohol in the bottom! i know i am not describing the quantities precisely, but there isn't much point since i am sure i added the correct amounts (good scales and careful math). what i am after is a 'feeling' answer. i have seen pictures of people making a 3 pound cut on the web, and also a picture in bob flexners book, and they basically cover the flakes with alcohol. so are the LV flakes just not very dense? or have people pounded their flakes up to make them take up less room? in the end everything dissolved ok, so perhaps it was right. seemed to go on ok, but i don't have much to judge it by.
2. i wanted to let the shellac settle so i could dewax it. i mixed a 1 pound cut, something light brownish settled out in the bottom 1/2 inch in a day or so. i guess it is the wax? the top is almost black, the colour of shellac flakes. but my 3 pound cut has not settled out in a few weeks! the whole thing is a kinda very dark brownish tan colour. am i doing something wrong? or was what i saw in my 1 pound cut not really the wax settling out?
any help much appreciated!
thanks
matt
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Hi Matt, You may find the attached answers your questions. Cheers, JG http://www.homesteadfinishing.com/htdocs/shellac.htm
Matt Wilkins wrote:

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Matt Wilkins wrote:

A three pound cut is three pounds of flakes in one *GALLON* of alcohol.
--
dadiOH
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dadiOH wrote:

I find a two # cut works very well for finishing and a dilution of 50% makes a good penetrating sealer. 3#/gal. is a little thick to work with. Bugs
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p.s. De-waxed shellac is ultra refined blonde [white] Shellac. I think de-waxing orange shellac yourself would be difficult. Bugs
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Wax is nearly insoluble in alcohol or water. Shellac isn't. Decant the clear solution. Works fine, if that's your thing. Use the residue on your turnings - or your leather.
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Bugs wrote:

Uh, no. There is such a thing as dewaxed orange shellac and other less-refined shellacs may also be dewaxed. They are pretty much independent qualities of the shellac, though it may be that the 'super refining' done to white shellac necessarily also removes the wax.
In addition to waiting for the wax to settle and decanting, you can mix in mineral spirits or turpentine, mix thoroughly, and decant. The wax is soluable in mineral spirits but the shellac is not.
Some folks dewax by 'washing' the flakes in mineral spirits before disolving them in alcohol. My guess is that takes a lot of washing.
I haven't done this myself but you can google this newsgroup to read the experiences of others who have.
--

FF


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No, it just takes time if you let it settle out. If you happen to have access to a biology lab, though, centrifuging orange shellac for a few minutes at 3000 G's takes all the wax and bug parts right out - I get some good-quality shellac that way. I doubt if it'd be worth buying or making a centrifuge for this purpose, but if a local university has surplus, or if you have a friend in the sciences, it's something to think about... Andy
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1. Buy a cheap kitchen scale and weigh the flakes. Trying to equate weight to the bulk density of a natural product is highly variable. It takes me seconds to weigh shellac flakes and then add them to the appropriate volume of alcohol. The tricks about using a volume of flakes and then a volume of alcohol are highly irreproducible because different brands and different types of shellac flakes all have different bulk densities.
2. Why bother dewaxing your own flakes? Just buy already dewaxed flakes. You can get them in all the different types. I use a lot of garnet shellac and always buy then flakes already dewaxed.
Good Luck.
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wrote:

Get a dieter's scale. Mine weighs up to a pound and is accurate to a gram or so.
-- "We need to make a sacrifice to the gods, find me a young virgin... oh, and bring something to kill"
Tim Douglass
http://www.DouglassClan.com
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