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Thread: Shellac repair

  1. #1

    Shellac repair

    Need some quick and easy suggestions....

    Okay, a simple solution....

    Alright, a crappy alternative...

    Mom has a bedroom set that is about 60-70 years old, handmade Cherry and I believe finished in Shellac. (I took some Denatured Alcohol and a cloth, rubbed down a piece of the inside of the carcass and it softened the finish, for a while)

    The finish scratches so easily and leaves white scars when it does. I know it needs to be refinished but.... Mom is 88 and reciently moved to a New Home, he older home of some 40 years was so dark you could not see any flaws and such, but this is one set she wanted to move to her new Patio home where the window allow great light as well as vaulted ceiling can lights that illuminate everything so well. A whole new world.... for her and her furnishing. So, taking the pieces out and refinishing would be too much of a chore and doing it in the house would be even worse. but I did wipe one of the scars down with the DA and the white scratch feathered out and was less noticable. She would love to have the pieces cleaned a bit to hide the years of ware. W/O the usual wealth of info about how there is no shortcut to correctly doing a job, or chastizing me for wanting to quick-fix, do any of you Shellacers have a suggestion to improve the looks of mom's Bedroom set.

    I visit her every few weeks and spend the evening, (she is some 200 miles away) Is there is some safe and simple solution that I could do a little each visit till the whole set is improved. Is that asking too much?

    Merry Christmas and thanks for all the info supplied in the past year.
    Last edited by Bill Simpson; 12-05-2007 at 01:56 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Constantine, MI
    I could be severely chastised for what I'm about to say, but here goes.

    Have you considered a tinted furniture wax? Certainly qualifies as a simple solution, maybe a little better than a crappy alternative. But it should help hide the white scars (thought steps to minimize them first should be taken).
    “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    Touching up with DNA is a common fix for shellac. A danger on older pieces is doing too much and creating a larger noticable area that you had to start with so go slow and use small pads or even q-tips. I would give each piece a good cleaning first to prevent merging existing dirt with the softened finish. Rennie's suggestion is a good one that (after a little touchup) could provide a good "look" that will last quite awhile.

    P.s. if you have an odd or distinctive color to match, shellac tints well.
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 12-05-2007 at 07:51 PM.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    The Heart of Dixie
    Google "French Polish". It just a technique of polishing shellac. I think it might also be called padding. I think it just what your looking for.
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
    and the eyesight to tell the difference.

    Kudzu Craft Lightweight Skin on frame Kayaks.
    Custom built boats and Kits

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Floydada, Tx
    You could use shellac and a cheese cloth soaked in it and rub it in to the old shellac( I think this is basicly french polish). Try it on a small area to see how well it matches. I have done this on a few peices with shellac finish and it works great for fixing the old finish. It may take several times to make it look good. Wood magazine did a article on it a few month ago. If you want I can find the issue number for you.

  6. #6
    Thanks for the insight, guys... I think the approach will be to clean the pieces, then rub down the scars and scratches (some places have the finish rubbed off, like under the dresser where a marble slab was used to "protect" the surface.... cracked and discarded) Nice white ring on the bedtable, etc. These I will rub down with DNA and thick cotton pads. After, I will use a modification of the true French Polish application using Shellac & oil and apply using a hard cottom pad and anticipate a good deal of need for Alieve to soothe my aging elbow and wrists.

    Should be a time consuming job but in short visits I can polish and resurface the bedroom set to serve her well and let the next owner worry about complete refinishing. I'll report back with my accomplishments (although not till after the Holidays as any visits are consumed with the events of the season.

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