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Thread: I Made A Mistake

  1. #1
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    I Made A Mistake

    I used spray on shellac (Zinsser Bulls Eye Shellac) on the cigar box ukulele I'm currently trying to finish up. I'm thinking that was a big mistake. Every time I touch it it leaves finger prints. Is there something I can spray over shellac that will produce a harder finish?
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  2. #2
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    I'm not one to listen to Paul, but I've always been under the impression that shellac is pretty much a universal base coat as well as a final...long as it's dewaxed or whatever they call it, you should be fine with a lacquer or poly coat and probably many more offerings than I'm unaware of....just my two measly cents being tossed in
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  3. #3
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    If its not cured then top coating it is just putting lipstick on the pig. Shellac should cure pretty hard after a couple of days tops (unless you're fingers are oozing alcohol in which case we maybe have other issues...) - if it hasn't something is wrong and imho you'll want to remove it.

    What I would do would be to bring it in someplace warmish and let it cure for another week - if its still soft.. well.. bummer. Shellac dissolves with just alcohol, but it can be a bit gunky to remove. You should be able to wipe off the vast majority without toooo much difficulty though.

    The most common cause of shellac not curing is old shellac, although zinsser ads some "stuff" that is supposed to make theirs last longer and I've used some that was way older than I should have risked.. it cured fine given a few days.

    You may also have put it on a smidge thick, I've had better luck with shellac working nice as I've gotten better putting down thinner coats (wiped/padded not sprayed though, no spray setup).

  4. #4
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    Strip it with alcohol , let it dry and proceed with fresh shellac.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hawksford View Post
    Strip it with alcohol , let it dry and proceed with fresh shellac.
    I second this motion.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hawksford View Post
    Strip it with alcohol , let it dry and proceed with fresh shellac.
    Dave - since you have infinitely more experience here than I do I have a follow on question.
    What would be the downside of giving it a couple of days to cure if its old and slow?
    That's assuming it ever cures at all (eventually you have to give up..).

    I've done that with some that I probably should have tossed but used anyway and it seems to be ok, but the pieces have only been around for a year or so so I'm wondering if I was just lucky or if there are other issues down the road.

    FYI: if you have some old shellac try making burnt shellac with it - on my list of things to try In theory it would be "just the ticket" for a lot of the organ builds and other things like that.

  7. #7
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    I'm thinking I put it on too thick. Them I got in too big of a hurry to start putting it together. It looks like the finger prints are going away, if that is possible. I think I will wait a day or too and then try to lightly rub them out. Most people wouldn't notice them, but I know they are there. If I can't lightly rub them out, I will get out the alcohol an go too work. Denatured alcohol work?
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  8. #8
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    Yes, denatured alcohol is what you want to use to thin, soften, or remove shellac. In fact, you can likely remove the fingerprints with a quick swipe of a DNA-moistened lint-free cloth.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Douglass View Post
    I'm thinking I put it on too thick. Them I got in too big of a hurry to start putting it together. It looks like the finger prints are going away, if that is possible. I think I will wait a day or too and then try to lightly rub them out. Most people wouldn't notice them, but I know they are there. If I can't lightly rub them out, I will get out the alcohol an go too work. Denatured alcohol work?
    DNA - yes. Everclear also works and doesn't have the denaturing agents but costs more (reportedly good shine works as well, but I wouldn't know anything about that and it seems like a waste .. bad shine might work to ).

    They may not rub out very well without some help. I've had some luck with padding them out, basically get a rag barely damp with DNA and then wrap it in another rag to make a buffing pad (no lint helps) and rub the marks out. The trick is to never stop moving the rag and land/lift off with the rag in motion. A drop or two of some sort of oil will help lubricate the situation (blo seems to work as does walnut oil, haven't tried others).

    Maybe practice on a piece of scrap first.

  10. #10
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    Okay, I checked and my can say 100% wax free. but I still think I may have applied it too thick. I'm wondering if sanding it with like 400 grit, then applying polyurethane or clear Deft over it, would that be a bad idea?
    Last edited by Paul Douglass; 12-19-2013 at 01:25 AM.
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