The Loss of Gloss - Enlightenment (long)

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I'm a moderate shellac / bug spit freak - I'll admit it.
Platina will make a nice piece of wood look better, garnet will give it a rich, deep, warm look - without hiding the grain. Ten or fifteen coats, brushed on, sprayed on or french polished on will give a depth to the finish that can turn a nice piece into a real eye grabber. Shellac is amazing.
The riitual of weighing and grinding the shellac (OK, so I use a power coffee grinder - a Braum to be exact - with green, orange and red LEDs to indicate the grind), the mason jars with their two part lids, the measuring of the alcohol, the liquid changing color as the finely powdered shellac is carefully poured into the alcohol, the stirring and waiting and stirring some more - all put me in a calm frame of mind. It is very much like preparing to do Japanese Sumie - laying out the cloth, the brushes, the ink grinding/ well, the ink stick, the porcelin mixing and cleaning trays and bowl - and of course the paper.
The process of woodworking is better than half the fun of it and preparing a batch of shellac is the beginning of the "home stretch" of a project. The shellac ritual is the calm before the potential storm, for it's the finishing that is frought (sp?) with possible calamities, especially with shellac, for every flaw and ding will soon become apparent. And even though there are "test pieces", the wood of the actual piece may contain hidden disasters - or very pleasant surprises - the BLOTCHIES may be hiding somewhere on the most visible part of the piece. Or - a beautiful, hidden grain pattern may appear from nowhere. A slip of the brush, an errant drop of shellac, a run or sag - all lurk - waiting.
But when things go "just so" - well, the results can be stunning - a sow's ear into a silk purse! A glass like surface a mile deep - yet still clearly showing the wonders of the wood's grain and/or figure - that my friend is a FINISH, or so I thought.
And then I found The Loss of Gloss.
The coopered doors, which took over my "quick and dirty" router bit cabinet, had 8-10 coats of hand rubbed garnet shellac. The finish was almost perfect - almost. I'd brushed on a thin last "final" coat to get rid of the fine swirl marks. There was a brush stroke on each of the doors, a lapse in technique late at night. But some carefull 400 grit sanding would make it right. Got carried away with the feathering around the sanded flaw and soon both doors had a flat look.
Rather than apply a final thinned shellac coat, with the possibility of again leaving a brush stroke, I went out and got some steel wool, actually some 00 copper wool and, for good measure some 0000 steel wool.
That's how I found enlightenment - The Loss of Gloss. The resulting finish looks soft and very pleasing, and, unlike a high gloss finish, begs to be touched. The surface doesn't feel like glass, but rather it feel like wood. Who'd of thunk it - a piece that feels like it's real honest to god wood. It's amazing how sensitive your finger tips are and how good this finish feels. One of the neighborhood kids, after running her fingers over the finish actually picked up a door and rubbed her cheek on it, with a smile like kids get when rubbing their blanky against their face.
So, if you've always thought that a glassy high gloss finish for your work is perfection, get some 0000 or 00000 steel wool and discover The Loss of Gloss.
Off to the woodworking show. Taking the MIata because a) it's fun to drive, b) it's a nice sunny day in NorCal and c) its size will prevent me from buying anything big (which often means expensive). Tooling along at 80 mph, with the top down, the wind through were my hair use to be - on the way to a woodworking show - it's going to be a great day!
charlie b
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I love that look, and do the same thing with the lacquer finish on antique radios I restore.

That's funny! I use the same idea when my wife wants to go antiquing. "OK!," I'll say. "Let's take the miata because it's so nice out" all the while thinking about how much money I just saved!
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I think that made Paul smile down on you from Heaven.....

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calmly ranted:
-snip-

Butcha gotta wear shades...

I beat you by about 15 years, charlieb. I've always deglossed my finishes and used mostly Watco or other oil finishes because I love the "hand" they give, with the feel of the wood coming through.
I just finished the carving bench legs with 3 coats of rubbed Waterlox, then a 0000 buffing with Johnson's wax. They're smoother than the provervial baby's butt.
The benchtop got one coat of Waterlox today after I got the links made and installed, and I'll smooth that and leave it. I have the curves coming along on the top of the legfronts so it'll pivot on the front, and I'll finish attaching it tomorrow. I still haven't decided what type of tilt mechanism to use to lock the back at different heights.
It's my first large-scale "furniture", so it has been a fun #$%^& learning experience. All M&T.

Hey, sounds like another use of Johnson's Wax, eh? It'll increase your gas mileage.
WARNING: Do not degloss the bald head. The red juice tends to leak out once you do.
--
"Given the low level of competence among politicians,
every American should become a Libertarian."
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wrote:

<reverently and regretfully snipped>
Damned nice, charlie b.
I began looking into knocked down glosses after one customer said about my gloss nitro lacquer (gittar finish, o'deen) job:
"I can't believe you did this in your little shop! It looks just like it came right out of a factory!"
(sizzle...burn...pftttt...)
Regards, Tom.
"People funny. Life a funny thing." Sonny Liston
Thomas J.Watson - Cabinetmaker (ret.) tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet (real email) http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1
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