Shellac wash coat question

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NCJim

Jim
User
I plan to make a wash coat of a mix of 1:1 shellac and alcohol and apply over pine. Then apply a penetrating stain and a topcoat. This is for a TV stand that I am making.

So the questions are:

Is this a OK mix & procedure? (I have been experimenting with Zinsser Amber Shellac and I like the results).

What topcoat should I use or can I stay with the Amber Shellac?
 

Bill Clemmons

Bill
Corporate Member
When I use a wash coat of shellac, I usually dilute it to a 1 lb. cut. If you're using the Zinsser shellac in the can, it's a 3 lb. cut, so I would dilute it w/ 2 parts DNA to 1 part shellac.

What wood are you using? Amber shellac gives a nice tone to walnut, but sometimes not so nice on lighter woods. As a wash coat I would probably select clear shellac, and a dewaxed formulation.

Once you put the wash coat on, you are essentially sealing the pores of the wood. A penetrating stain will not be as effective after that. I would suggest a gel stain for better results.

Topcoat: Both the Clear and Amber shellac from Zinsser are a "wax" formulation. In some cases, a topcoat of anything other than shellac will not adhere properly. It's best to stay w/ shellac once you start w/ it. Or use a dewaxed shellac to start w/, then any topcoat will adhere to it. The only issue you might have w/ shellac as the final coat is if you ever set an alcoholic drink, or a glass of alkyd water on it. The alcohol will dissolve the shellac, and the water will leave a ring. Otherwise, shellac makes an excellent topcoat.
 

danmart77

Dan
Corporate Member
I plan to make a wash coat of a mix of 1:1 shellac and alcohol and apply over pine. Then apply a penetrating stain and a topcoat. This is for a TV stand that I am making.

So the questions are:

Is this a OK mix & procedure? (I have been experimenting with Zinsser Amber Shellac and I like the results).
The shellac as it comes out of the can from zinsser is too thick to put down a seal coat. The short answer on a good mix is make it thin almost like water. You want the shellac to penetrate to the max. After you apply the first thin coat of sealer, let it completely dry. I like to go over the seal coat with 3M pads or steel wool 0000 to get it slick. If it feels like you went thru the base coat, apply another coat. As a rule I don't use amber tones for the seal coat. As you can imagine you get some variation where you went thru the thin coat. Zinsser makes a product they call "Seal Coat shellac" and it is dewaxed. Its very clear. I don't know if I would run out and get another quart can if I was only doing one project I guess I'd just work with the amber to make it work. Bottom Line: you can not go to thin. Streaking in the initial coat happens much more often when you are too thick.

What topcoat should I use or can I stay with the Amber Shellac?[/QUOTE]
TV stands do not get a ton of abuse. If you like the results(color and texture of the shellac), stay with the shellac. If you want a super tough topcoat you can apply varnish over shellac provided the shellac base was a "dewaxed solution" mix.

Then apply a penetrating stain and a topcoat.
If you apply the shellac as a sealer and you do a good job, the penetrating stain WILL NOT penetrate. You can use it to tone the surface but the shellac will prevent the stain from reaching the wood. The stain will lay on top of the sealer. This is not a bad thing as it will prevent blotching that you will find when coloring pine quite often. Once the stain dries you need to put a top coat of shellac on the stain surface. If you use an oil stain and you want to apply something like polyurethane you must seal the stain or you will have a mess that you won't like. Trust me here.



A word of caution: Don't apply shellac like you would oil based varnish. Do not brush back and forth. One pass and let it dry. Overlap each pass about an inch.

There is an enormous range of preferences from users on the forum on what to use to apply the shellac to the surface. Many have found the foam brush to be a good choice and they are cheap. With this method you are throwing them away after each use.

I like to use natural bristle brush that I have found to be the best brush on results. They are expensive but they have advantages synthetic brushes don't offer.

Like lacquer, shellac reactivates each time you apply a coat and the brush is easily prepared unlike varnish. I rinse my brush after each use in dna and let it dry with some residual shellac on the brush. Before I use it again, I let it soak for a few minutes in DNA and its ready to use. I have 2 brushes that I have been using for over 3 years and they perform like the day I bought them.

Dan
 

Jeff

New User
Jeff
Do not use shellac containing wax: Zinsser Amber and Clear shellac from a local BORG contain wax from the lac bug and that's bad for other top coats because they don't adhere to "wax".

1. Zinsser SealCoat is 100% dewaxed and it's a 2 lb cut in the can. Dilute it to about 1:1 with denatured alcohol (DNA) and that's good for a wash coat to minimize splotching on the pine that you'll be using. Slosh it on with a rag or a brush-it's not rocket science.

2. Apply the stain/dye of your choice per the directions. Wipe on/wipe off, let it dry thoroughly, etc.

What topcoat should I use or can I stay with the Amber Shellac?

Your call, but don't use the Amber shellac containing WAX!
 

tarheelz

Dave
Corporate Member
As an idea in another direction, given that you are working with pine, you may want to consider General Finishes' gel stains. In my experience that have been THE fix to blotchy pine as they are thick enough to not get sucked into the pine in places.

Note: I think shellac PLUS gel stain would give you a muddy, paint-like, finish. There would be no absorption at all.
 

danmart77

Dan
Corporate Member

As an idea in another direction, given that you are working with pine, you may want to consider General Finishes' gel stains. In my experience that have been THE fix to blotchy pine as they are thick enough to not get sucked into the pine in places.

Note: I think shellac PLUS gel stain would give you a muddy, paint-like, finish. There would be no absorption at all. (Dave)

If you seal with dewaxed shellac then oil stain over it, you won't see cloudiness unless you paint on the color and leave it to dry without wiping the excess off.

Here is a tool box with clear shellac from flakes as seal coat with artists oil paint as a stain/glazing then amber shellac top coat. No cloudiness and good adhesion.

This pine is from Home Depot's reject pile. You get it for 70 percent off. I tried some oil coloring on the unsealed pine and it blotched big time-- ugly.

This is a toolbox and I didn't want to spend much time on it. Turns out I had to build 4 of them for my sons and a friend. Plug and chug.


In the end, I am still surprised at how many folks still lean towards shellac in a can. Buying your flakes from Vijay Vilji allows you to mix what you need for the job and store your flakes for a long time. All of his flakes are dewaxed and the quality is the best that I've found in my search. By the way -- his prices are the best and he offers a discount to NCWW who qualify for member discounts. Another thing to consider: you can get 5 different types of shellac from Vijay in a wider color pallet than Zinsser offers. Nuf said.


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Rick M

New User
Rick
My advice is use pine because you like pine. Stain will never make it look like anything other than stained pine. Pine looks best with orange/garnet shellac and no stain.
 
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