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 Post subject: Any negatives to using shellac instead of lacquer?
PostPosted: Nov Wed 13, 2019 3:23 pm 
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I'm only now about to tackle a full cabinet restoration (although not a complete strip-down job) and there's a million different opinions on every single step. I once clear coated one of my sets and didn't even realize I bought shellac. It worked fine and I like that it could cover anything, including any silicon residues. On this next set I was thinking to use it again, but I know originally lacquer was used. Any advice to this novice refinisher is appreciated.


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 Post subject: Re: Any negatives to using shellac instead of lacquer?
PostPosted: Nov Thu 14, 2019 3:38 am 
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No expert here, but I know shellac was used on very early radios in early to mid twenties. Since alcohol is the solvent for shellac, it makes it easy to remove. Making it easy to remove may be good or bad depending on the situation.
Marty


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 Post subject: Re: Any negatives to using shellac instead of lacquer?
PostPosted: Nov Thu 14, 2019 10:52 am 
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You didn't say what make of shellac spray can you used.

Spray can shellac, by Bulls Eye, doesn't spray well. Well not good enough for me. Its specky and I would think wouldn't rub out even if a lot was applied. If someone has tried it then I would be pleased to know the results.

Spray can lacquer, by Mohawk of course, can give an amateur a much better result with a lot less experience. It does count of course and after 20 years I get results that are fantastic straight from the can. That is little or no rubbing out.

Folks do use thinned shellac under lacquer as sealer coats and there is lots written about it here if you search.

Gary


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 Post subject: Re: Any negatives to using shellac instead of lacquer?
PostPosted: Nov Thu 14, 2019 2:06 pm 
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Thanks very much guys, I don't have the can with me to say what brand the shellac spray I have is. I would guess Krylon (??), but I'm not sure. The last time I used it, it did have a rather textured surface. I was thinking I could rub it out between coats. I have to look and see if I can get Mohawk. I always heard how good they're products are.
Anyway, I think I'll go with the shellac, being that I have a full can.


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 Post subject: Re: Any negatives to using shellac instead of lacquer?
PostPosted: Nov Thu 14, 2019 2:17 pm 
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I have used Bull's Eye shellac as a sanding sealer but not as a finish. I don't think the spray would do a good even coating.


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 Post subject: Re: Any negatives to using shellac instead of lacquer?
PostPosted: Nov Thu 14, 2019 5:33 pm 
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decojoe67 wrote:
Thanks very much guys, I don't have the can with me to say what brand the shellac spray I have is. I would guess Krylon (??), but I'm not sure. The last time I used it, it did have a rather textured surface. I was thinking I could rub it out between coats. I have to look and see if I can get Mohawk. I always heard how good they're products are.
Anyway, I think I'll go with the shellac, being that I have a full can.


Joe, Shellac has a finite "in the can" life. If it is more than a year in the can, it may not dry properly.

I understand not wanting to buy or use another product. But consider shellac like a bunch of bananas good for a couple of weeks, maybe...

Clue: The last time I used it, it did have a rather textured surface.

Make up a test panel of the same wood as the object to be finished and spray that. If it comes out bad, nothing lost...

I had to toss the last can of shellac I had, it would not dry and remained tacky for weeks.

As a sealer, it may be O,K, but then why risk the many hours of final finishing when the shellac sealer is a failure...

Not much ticks me off more than furniture finish that fails...

Chas

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 Post subject: Re: Any negatives to using shellac instead of lacquer?
PostPosted: Nov Thu 14, 2019 6:41 pm 
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Lacquer is going to be more durable. The Minwax brand is readily available and is likely an acrylic lacquer formulation- the same as was used on many cars before urethane became standard. Shellac would not last a day on a car :lol: Note: Rustoleum does make cans of clear spray lacquer for automotive that are labeled as acrylic lacquer.


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 Post subject: Re: Any negatives to using shellac instead of lacquer?
PostPosted: Nov Thu 14, 2019 7:06 pm 
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All good advice that I'll consider. Thank you. What if I carefully sand the shellac smooth between coats? The total price in materials is getting quite high, so I'm trying not to buy more products.


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 Post subject: Re: Any negatives to using shellac instead of lacquer?
PostPosted: Nov Thu 14, 2019 9:33 pm 
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I use shellac as a sanding sealer all the time. I mix it for each job, because it doesn't stay good very long. I apply a thin coat, then wet sand with 600 grit after the shellac is dry. If the wood isn't perfectly smooth, I'll apply another coat and wet sand again. After my shellac base it done, I then move on to a lacquer spray finish. Since I have a high quality gun, I don't use spray cans. Lacquer is tougher and more durable than shellac. I can tint easily with it, it dries fast so I can apply multiple coats in a short amount of time , sanding with 800 between coats, and as long as the humidity is below about 65% i don't have any trouble with blushing. (moisture trapped in the finish). Other than the STRONG and potentially hazardous vapor.... I luv using lacquer.


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 Post subject: Re: Any negatives to using shellac instead of lacquer?
PostPosted: Nov Fri 15, 2019 12:11 am 
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decojoe67 wrote:
All good advice that I'll consider. Thank you. What if I carefully sand the shellac smooth between coats? The total price in materials is getting quite high, so I'm trying not to buy more products.
Yes you can sand but be sure to use a "tack" rag to grab all the dust. A tack rag is a folded swatch of cheese cloth treated to be sticky and not leave an incomparable residue. Such a product should be at Home Depot or Loews.

One shellac trick you may consider is "French Polishing". That is all discussed online but it does require shellac flakes, fresh alcohol FWIR not denatured and boiled linseed oil, IMHO I don't think one can French polish with spray shellac.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_polish

BTW I tried this many years ago, but I took a lot of short cuts with materials. I only got results in limited areas of the work. I could not get an overall shine...

FYI Alan Douglas mastered the technique...

I am concerned about your high cost of materials. Have you considered mail order? I would not doubt high prices in a metro area. But I think your being victimized at "boutique" stores. For example Ace, True Value and the like. They are O.K. in a pinch but for regular finish work, IMHO too $$$. Any Mom & Pop paint stores around?

Though I have not looked in several years, I found Pond Cove Paint in Maine to be very reasonable with folks willing to help solve finish problems with a telephone call.

https://www.pondcovepaint.com

GL

Chas

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 Post subject: Re: Any negatives to using shellac instead of lacquer?
PostPosted: Nov Fri 15, 2019 3:06 am 
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Chas wrote:
decojoe67 wrote:
All good advice that I'll consider. Thank you. What if I carefully sand the shellac smooth between coats? The total price in materials is getting quite high, so I'm trying not to buy more products.
Yes you can sand but be sure to use a "tack" rag to grab all the dust. A tack rag is a folded swatch of cheese cloth treated to be sticky and not leave an incomparable residue. Such a product should be at Home Depot or Loews.

One shellac trick you may consider is "French Polishing". That is all discussed online but it does require shellac flakes, fresh alcohol FWIR not denatured and boiled linseed oil, IMHO I don't think one can French polish with spray shellac.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_polish

BTW I tried this many years ago, but I took a lot of short cuts with materials. I only got results in limited areas of the work. I could not get an overall shine...

FYI Alan Douglas mastered the technique...

I am concerned about your high cost of materials. Have you considered mail order? I would not doubt high prices in a metro area. But I think your being victimized at "boutique" stores. For example Ace, True Value and the like. They are O.K. in a pinch but for regular finish work, IMHO too $$$. Any Mom & Pop paint stores around?

Though I have not looked in several years, I found Pond Cove Paint in Maine to be very reasonable with folks willing to help solve finish problems with a telephone call.

https://www.pondcovepaint.com

GL

Chas

Thanks Chas. I must get a tack rag. I did go to a True Value near where I work that caters to local business. They have everything, but are indeed expensive. Now that I have the materials, I plan to use them. If I could do it again, I would've ordered Mohawk products. I think if I take it one slow step at a time, I can get decent results.


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 Post subject: Re: Any negatives to using shellac instead of lacquer?
PostPosted: Nov Sat 16, 2019 11:38 pm 
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Shellac, especially French polished, is one of the most beautiful finishes, but it is fragile. It must be renewed every few years. The desk I am sitting at is French polished, first applied 90 years ago. It is one of several large French polished pieces in my home. I would not recommend it for anything that is handled much or has ceramic, stone, or metal objects moved around on it, like a dining table. It scratches easily and needs several coats of wax to protect it, which then gets you into the problem of water spotting for many waxes. Paste wax has a thickness of 6 microns per layer, so you need to start with about 10 layers. Shellac is great for the lower levels of a refinish, but lacquer will survive much better on the surface, although NC lacquer rapidly yellows with age.

This is a good article on clear finishes:

https://www.finewoodworking.com/2004/11/01/selecting-a-finish

The article above wins in any conflict in the following 2 articles.

This is an article that points out shellac's advantages and disadvantages, in spite of its title. The author's point is that it can be appropriate for refinishing, which is what we do, but not for new work.

https://www.woodshopnews.com/columns-blogs/shellac-as-a-sealer-its-all-just-hype

This article is more favorable to shellac, but it does downplay water resistance problems:

https://thefinishingstore.com/blogs/news/why-shellac-is-my-go-to-finish-for-fine-furniture

I would only use shellac as a top coat on a piece that is seen but not touched, unless you accept the maintenance issues. Lacquer is good for most things, but remember NC lacquer rapidly yellows and more modern lacquers don't. Varnish, especially polyurethane, is the mot durable finish, and is the most suitable finish for dining tables and coffee tables that see much use. I make exceptions for antiques. I have a 19th century dining table that is still French polished, and a late 19th century dining table that was lacquered in the last 20 years, by someone else. My 16th through 18th century pieces only get waxed, over their original varnish, no matter what it's condition.

John


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 Post subject: Re: Any negatives to using shellac instead of lacquer?
PostPosted: Nov Sun 17, 2019 2:42 am 
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I wouldn't use shellac. My experience is that it doesn't spray well -- lots of orange peel look.

I always use Watco semi-gloss as my topcoat (I do use Mohawk toners). Watco can be had for $6-$7 per rattle can, probably quite a bit less than Mohawk.

Peter


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 Post subject: Re: Any negatives to using shellac instead of lacquer?
PostPosted: Nov Thu 21, 2019 7:07 pm 
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CRTag55 wrote:
I use shellac as a sanding sealer all the time. I mix it for each job, because it doesn't stay good very long. I apply a thin coat, then wet sand with 600 grit after the shellac is dry. If the wood isn't perfectly smooth, I'll apply another coat and wet sand again. After my shellac base it done, I then move on to a lacquer spray finish. Since I have a high quality gun, I don't use spray cans. Lacquer is tougher and more durable than shellac. I can tint easily with it, it dries fast so I can apply multiple coats in a short amount of time , sanding with 800 between coats, and as long as the humidity is below about 65% i don't have any trouble with blushing. (moisture trapped in the finish). Other than the STRONG and potentially hazardous vapor.... I luv using lacquer.

I arrived at the clear coat step and stepped back and gave it all lot of thought. I'm going with your suggestion. Shellac with a Lacquer finish. I'll post pics when I finally finish the set - if I'm not too ashamed of it! LOL


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 Post subject: Re: Any negatives to using shellac instead of lacquer?
PostPosted: Nov Wed 27, 2019 3:17 am 
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The set it finally done and assembled. I have a new respect for you guys who do these refinishes often! It's hard to do and a LOT of work! The front burl is not a rich as I originally intended it to be, but I also didn't want it to look too over the top. All I can say is I'm glad I'm done! Thanks guys for all your advice. I took it all into consideration.


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 Post subject: Re: Any negatives to using shellac instead of lacquer?
PostPosted: Nov Wed 27, 2019 5:19 am 
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Superretrodyne wrote:
My 16th through 18th century pieces only get waxed, over their original varnish, no matter what it's condition.

John
Please post some photos of those pieces.

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