A Little Shellac Goes a Long Little Way

Category: Restore & Repair

After fixing up a batch of fresh shellac, today we set about applying it to the second floor trim. The best part? My sister Kjerstin was in town from Anchorage this weekend and volunteered to help!

trim_shellac6.jpg

This actually wasn't the first time Kj spent some of her vacation time helping us on the house, but it is the first time she didn't get a chance to break something. Turns out she's good at both.

The bad news was the shellac we prepared didn't go as far as we'd expected. In fact, we only got just shy of one coat on everything...we were hoping for at least 3! (Again, we should have listened to experts like the guys at Petch House and This Old Crack House who certainly know better than us.)

Even more unfortunate, it wasn't until I'd gotten near the bottom of my own jar that I noticed that the shellac itself hadn't fully disolved. Instead, there was a nasty, black tar at the bottom of the jar...

trim_shellac7.jpg

I'm thinking that maybe we didn't give the denatured alcohol enough time to entirely disolve the shellac chips. The instructions said 2 to 24 hours, which didn't exactly seem like a precise recommendation. We gave it about 14 hours in our case. Next time I'm waiting at least twice as long.

In the mean time, I spent the afternoon today going back and stripping more woodwork. What we'd been working on so far was actually just the door and window trim pieces. To try to finish up the rest, I hauled the long baseboard pieces out of the basement and went to work on them.

trim_strippinginprogress3.jpg

By dinner time I'd removed the paint and the layers of old finish on eight of the pieces. The rest will have to wait until tomorrow.


Looking for More?

House in Progress Search for more on 'shellac' on this site.
Houseblogs.net Search for 'shellac' on on other houseblogs like this one.
Google Search for 'shellac' on Google.
Amazon.com Search for 'shellac' on Amazon.com.

Comments

Add some alcohol to that glob and you will have some more shellac. You need to shake or stir the stuff before you use it. Don't forget to sand with 220 grit paper between coats either by hand or with a palm sander. It makes a big difference.
If you run out of Garnet, you can always slap a coat of amber over it in the end so don't be surprised if you make that trip to Home Depot for a can of Zinsser.

There is a learning curve to everything. You might try doing some reading over at http://shellac.net. There are some great How Tos and FAQs on the preperation and use of shellac.

It looks great, though! I'm looking forward to the distant day when I'll be finished stripping and ready for shellac.

The thinner the cut, the more you get that settling ;-) When I'm working on big streaches, I stir between every dip of the brush. But its really, really hard to screw up shellac.

I have a few newbie questions... What's the deal with shellac? How is it different/better than polyurethane? Why would I use one vs. the other?

Inquiring minds want to know. Thanks!

Totally OT.... But I have to tell you Jeannie. I repaired my washer this weekend and the only reason I even attempted it was because I had remembered that you had done it.

A trip to the Sears Repair Center, a new part and manual and pretty soon I had the whole skin off the washer replacing the lid switch. Took 1 hour but alot of the was locating the right socket for the ground wire screw.

It was a little liberating and frightening all at the same time. I also have to say love the man that helped me at the Sears repair center and had no qualms about this girl fixing her own washer.

Way to go Sears.

Those are great questions DaveC. I think both finishes have their advantages. You can see a bit of our reasoning in my Note within our review of Shellac here. I think it comes down to what "look" you want for your finish and the kind of wear the finished piece will experience. Shellac looks less, I don't know, plastic? Less shiny, more deep and rich. It won't yellow like poly might. You can also experiment with tints for color matching. It's easier to fix mistakes with shellac (just little touch ups with denatured alcohol and reapply). And it's less toxic than poly.

But for some finishes, poly might be best. There are also other options including varnish, oils, etc. Each one has a different "look", different drying times, different interactions with the wood and the environment, etc.

Whoo hoo Saple!!!!

A couple of suggestions:

1. Crunch the flakes into smaller pieces before adding alcohol. This speeds the dissolution process.
2. Buy flakes from shellac.net rather than Rockler. Prices are around half and I've been pleased with their quality and service.
3. Stir the flakes as soon as you add them to the alcohol, just like cooking rice. If you let them form a clump, they'll take longer to dissolve.
4. Use a jar with a tight-fitting lid, then give it a swirl every few hours. Careful, though--alcohol leaks out of containers that other liquids don't.
5. Shellac is just about the perfect finish--congratulations on discovering it.

A couple of suggestions:

1. Crunch the flakes into smaller pieces before adding alcohol. This speeds the dissolution process.
2. Buy flakes from shellac.net rather than Rockler. Prices are around half and I've been pleased with their quality and service.
3. Stir the flakes as soon as you add them to the alcohol, just like cooking rice. If you let them form a clump, they'll take longer to dissolve.
4. Use a jar with a tight-fitting lid, then give it a swirl every few hours. Careful, though--alcohol leaks out of containers that other liquids don't.
5. Shellac is just about the perfect finish--congratulations on discovering it.

 

Email this Entry to a Friend

Email this entry to:


Your email address:


Message (optional):


a neighborhood of home improvement blogs

Cabinet Refacing
Cabinet Refacing:
Face Your Kitchen | Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing
 
 

 

  •  
  •