[Shockingly back On Topic] Shellac application (Was: The rec.woodworking.all-ages mess)

On Sat, 23 Oct 2004 15:07:26 -0600, Dave Balderstone wrote:

I'm trying to teach myself how to apply shellac without it looking like a streaky mess. I've abandoned brushing and tried padding some today. Seems to be a much better method. I just ripped out a hunk of old t-shirt and stuffed it with some old cheesecloth. I just dipped this into the shellac, but the descriptions that I've found online usually say to use a squeeze bottle to shoot shellac into the central pad.
Anyone have any tips, tricks, gotchas about applying shellac?
--
Joe Wells


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I just came from my shop a few minutes ago. Guess what I was doing, Joe? Applying shellac with a surgical towel, which is made from a stiff fabric, who's composition I'm not sure of, but it works like gangbusters when folded into a pad. I use the flat, rounded edge, about four inches wide. I cut 3# shellac by about 30-50%, meaning I'm not using anywhere near the #1 cut that others recommend for padding. Works for me, and reduces the number of coats required for the same finish thickness.
After 3 or four coats I LIGHTLY sand with 320 to reduce the few shiny areas that stand out. One to three (usually only one or two) more coats after that completes the process.
David
Joe Wells wrote:

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On Sat, 23 Oct 2004 15:44:06 -0700, David wrote:

And you're just dipping this into your shellac, right?

I tried it with a 2# cut and seemed to be OK. But then I pre-loaded the pad with alcohol before applying.

That's good stuff, David. Thanks.
--
Joe Wells


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Yup. I poured about 2" of shellac into a small rectangular container and just dip the cloth into the shellac about 3/4" of an inch, tilt the pad so excess drips off (just a second or two) and then apply the pad to the workpiece in long even strokes. The more you thin the shellac the less likely you will have any "problem areas"; unevenness of sheen. I purposely don't cut the shellac much because I want to avoid applying too many coats; my patience only lasts so long. :)
I agree a 2# cut works well.
It is important that you not rework the shellac other than maybe one or two FAST wipes. The pad will start to drag over the fast drying, thinned shellac at an amazing pace. Recoat time depends on thickness of application and the ambient conditions.
You are welcome, Joe!
David
Joe Wells wrote:

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I use old dish towels, because there's maybe 4 bushels of them in the shop. Same principle.

The pre-loading with alcohol isn't needed, in my experience. Dip in the bowl, and squeeze a bit. No drips on the workpiece, because they screw up the work you've already done.
By the way, padding the dewaxed shellac (SealCoat, or mixed from flake) seems a whole different experience from using the Zinsser Amber in the can. More controllable, to my hand.
I think the squeeze bottle with alcohol is from french polish technique. That's further down the road than I have explored. What David said about leveling with 320 or 400 grit is what I do. Then, after the last coats have cured for long enough (several days at least), they get several coats of wax applied, usually with a white 3M synthetic pad. Cuts the sheen, hides the blemishes, adds warmth.
There are other ways, but these work, and have been learned from the old ones here on the wReck. I see no reason to change.
Patriarch
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On Sun, 24 Oct 2004 05:17:07 +0000, wrote:

You're probably right about that. I wouldn't have even brought it up, but for the number of times that I saw it mentioned elsewhere.

That all sounds like good stuff. Thanks!
Have any of you found the need to vary your technique when using darker shellac? I stared out brushing with a 2# cut of super blonde and things were going OK. Then I tried a 2# cut of garnet and now *any* variation of the thickness of the coat shows as streaks, lumps, and other nastiness. My attempt at padding was again with super blonde, but I could see the difference that it made. But I'm curious to see if the garnet fares as well. No time to try it today, hopefully I can give it a whirl tomorrow.
--
Joe Wells


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Joe, I don't use the darker shellacs. I use dyes for coloring the bare wood, and then spray on sealers and top coats. In the case of shellac, I either pad Zinnser's shellacs or spray them. I find that for some projects, padding makes more sense; there's less clean-up and leveling required. Perhaps my spraying technique with shellac hasn't caught up with my ability to lay down proper coats of lacquers and water based polys. I don't like to have too much color in the top coats; I prefer the bulk of the color being IN the wood.
David
Joe Wells wrote:

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I've used the garnet over blonde on walnut, and liked the effect. Modest thickness variations weren't really apparent on the walnut. On the other hand, the walnut had a small inlay of holly in one section, and the thickness variations for the garnet over the holly sure stood out like a sore thumb.
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I use the "paint pads" found at HD and elsewhere. They're a foam core (I think) with terrycloth over them - works for me.
--
Where ARE those Iraqi WMDs?

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