I tried a suggestion I read to put a coat of clear shellac on pine before
staining to avoid blotching, and while the stain does look a little more
it took about a week to dry (it was very humid here in Austin
as of late). It's still a little oily feeling.
I was searching Google and found this quote from someone
Since I've never stained over shellac, I guess I didn't wipe good enough
(guess I was afraid I'd wipe it off the shellac coat) and/or I've relied on
wood being more absorbent. The above quote makes it sound like I need
to wipe really well.
It still feels a little oily. Can I just wipe down really hard and keep
Or do I need to strip it and start over?
Can I wipe "too hard" when going over shellac?
Thanks for any help or hints,
hopefully you used a Dewaxed shellac and not the regular shellac you see in the
yellow can. Dewaxed shellac (like the zinsser seal coat) is a good pre stain
conditioner. Regular shellac will not allow stain to penetrate into the wood
A lot depends on how you interpreted "coat of shellac"
The sealer coat of shellac should be a very thin coat 1 LB cut of dewaxed
shellac with no surface build up.
You want that shellac to be taken into the cells of the wood and partially
sealing them not building up on the surface of the wood.
There are three flavors of stain. Dye, pigment, and a mixture of both. Dye
needs to be able to soak into the wood cells to color them. Seal the cells
too much and it just sits on the surface with nowhere to go. Pigment stains
need some roughage for the pigments to get stuck in to provide color. Make
the too slick and same thing. Wipe your finger across it and the pigments
will just grab onto you and leave a streak on the wood.
In other words you do not want any shellac building up on the surface of the
wood which, considering you say you were afraid you would wipe off all the
shellac I'd have to guess that is what you did do and is the cause of your
If that were the case and the piece was given to me to fix I'd get myself a
gallon of alcohol and lots of rags and start wiping the whole mess off.
You'd most likely end up with some color left on the wood but that can be
evened out once you are back to square one.
Using the alcohol to dissolve and wipe off the surface shellac is also going
to thin down and let the wood absorb some of what is on the surface.
By the time you have all the stain and shellac wiped off of the wood you may
luck out and find that there is enough shellac left in the wood that the
wood may take an even stain.
Shellac, properly thinned and applied, does a good job but Min Wax also has
a "wood conditioner", not sanding sealer, that is meant to do the same job
of evening out stain on problem woods.
I'm not saying one or the other is better, just letting you know it is out
I greatly prefer Minwax "Natural" stain over "Wood Conditioner" on
problem woods. The first coat of Natural stain seems to provide the
best results I've seen when using that brand of stains.
Then again, I greatly prefer other brands over anything Minwax. <G>
It's basically a "Danish oil." Makes a great final finish, as with the 50
year old tables in my mom's house. Used to wool it off every five years or
so and thin coat to renew.
Difference, as in this situation, is that it's solvent-compatible with oil
stains, where shellac isn't.
Now that you mention this, why can't I seem to remember sanding the
coat? I honestly can't remember, if I skipped it, I guess that would
explain a lot too.
Looks like I'm going to be sanding and wiping a lot this weekend.
Gary, I don't think the sanding had anything to do with it. While you may have
put on too heavy a coat of shellac, I suspect the stain is also too heavy. A
thick coat of oil mixwax in high humidity will take (from experience) about
3-5 days to sorta dry, and even longer is better. While agreeing with all that
Mike G. said, the first thing I'd try is some thinner (mineral spirits) and a
rag. That'll take off any uncured oil finish but not the shellac. Then take a
look and see if it's workable. If not, then go ahead and strip.
For a pigment stain, and also depending upon the particular wood, sanding can
modify the intensity. Take two scraps and sand one (by steps) to 220 grit.
Sand the other at 80 grit, then apply and wipe off the stain. Now, 80 grit is
extreme, but it'll give you an idea of the difference. When using a shellac
washcoat to control stain penetration (and blotching), I would not normally
sand after the shellac.
Finally, if you're going to strip and any of the stain is cured, the alcohol
alone may not cut it, as it only dissolves shellac. Don't remember if minwax
uses a varnish or urethane, but I suspect the latter, so you may end up
sanding at some point.
Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for the help, it was appreciated.
I just spend the last few days stripping and sanding. I've always
dreaded that I might have to do that, and while it wasn't fun, it wasn't
bad, really. I'm still pretty new at this, and this was my first finishing
maybe I can relax more, now that I have that hurdle over with.
I re-stained with MinWax Stain, not "Wood Finish". I know many don't
seem to like MinWax, but I've never had bad luck with the simple stain
products. I'm not too sure about their combo products, now. However,
the local Home Depot has about 95% Wood Finish, and way off over in
the corner are the "real" stains.
Nothing wrong with MinWax stains, when you want a combined pigment/dye stain.
They will also give you much more control than the "wood finish". I've used
both their oil and water base stains. In some cases, I've used it as a base
and modified the color. You can also reduce the pigment by letting it settle
and decanting or filtering. Just note, though, if you've bought the oil or
water base stain, for compatibility with any top coat (except shellac, of
course, which works with both).
You can wipe with mineral spirits, which will not affect the shellac.
Mineral spirits are typically used as a sanding lubricant with
shellac, as it dosen't redissolve the shellac.
Some folks can wipe anything too hard. "Too hard" is a subjective
phrase. <G> Shellac's pretty tough. You're early in the finishing
process, so I wouldn't get too worried.
FWIW, home center variety stains like Minwax have given me better
results when I prestain with same brand's "Natural" stain. The coat
of Natural penetrates but dosen't change the color, making the darker
colored second staining come out more even. In this case, I'll only
use shellac, usually full strength Seal Coat or 2lb dewaxed, between
the last stain coat and the first clear coat, to keep the solvents
from moving the stain pigments around. Don't use shellac before the
Home center stains often use weaker solvents than "pro" stains, so
they take forever dry over shellac, just as you've found.
I usually use a shellac washcoat under better quality stains, such as
Behlen's or Mohawk, and I use a different application method, that
goes like this:
Sand to 120 before starting, and *lightly* scuff w/ 320 after 2nd
barrier coat, and with each clear coat. Do TWO clear coats between
scuffs if you're using spray bombs.
1. (optional)Wipe on dye, like Solar Lux, let dry.
2. Washcoat w/ 1- 1 1/2 LB shellac, let dry 1-2 hours or so,
depending on conditions.
3. Wipe on pigment stain with rag
4. Dry brush stain in direction of the grain with good brush, evening
out the coverage, let dry an hour or so. (DON'T WIPE)
5. Washcoat again, let dry.
6. Continue @ step 3 and repeat as needed if additional pigments are
required, or start clear coats.
Make some 12x12 test boards and jam away! Write all of your finishing
steps on the back, so you'll be able to either troubleshoot the
process or duplicate success. Finishing is easy with practice.
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