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Thread: spraying shellac

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Cape Cod, Ma.
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    spraying shellac

    Was asked to do a bit of restoration work on an old piece for a client. Its a display table with ball and claw feet. My guess is it was made sometime before the 1930's. I have to disassemble it as all the glue joints have come lose and will be re gluing it then cleaning and spraying at least 2 coats of shellac. I did a bit of cleaning on it yesterday with DA to see what would come back and if in fact it was shellac as I suspected or possibly lacquer.

    My question is should I use a 1# or 2# cut for spraying. There are too many "nooks and crannies" in the details to brush this or to pad so spraying would be the best option imo.
    I have sprayed a 1# cut to use as a sealer but this is going to be the finish coat(s)

    Schedule is as follows.
    disassemble and clean all parts, make repairs where necessary.
    reassemble with hot hide glue
    clean joints
    wipe down with DA cleaning all the dirt and dust and getting a clean surface
    spray a coat of shellac
    rub down with 00 steel wool and lube
    spray
    rub
    spray
    if sufficient build then rub down with 0000 steel wool and lube then paste wax and buff.

    Any advice would be appreciated should I be stepping wrong here.
    Also bear in mind this table isn't any "certified antique" and it was modified many years ago. And although this project is a restoration it is more for appearance and to repair the structure of the piece. I am trying to keep it as original as possible.
    this will also be my first venture into the world of hot hide glue! Here, hold my soda and watch this! Yolo!
    He who laughs last, thinks slowest

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
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    Wapakoneta, OH
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    Spraying shellac is so easy I prefer it, especially on items with a lot of detail to get the shellac into (besides, I can't brush it very well at all). But it's meant to be a thin finish, and too much build can lead to alligatoring so be aware you don't want to go to thick. Anyway, I spray most of it at about a 1# cut (I don't get too precise mixing or diluting the stuff). But Seal Coat be sprayed right out of the can (if you use the canned stuff), I've had less success spraying the Amber and clear right out of the can. Those are a 3# cut and just a bit thick for my taste. So, I would spray 1# cuts, I wouldn't rub with steel wool (to avoid leaving shards that can rust later) except for the second to last coat to remove nibs, then final coat. Shellac sticks to itself quite well, so the rubbing isn't really needed and i would use fibral wool, kraft paper, or maybe 600 grit sand paper to remove any roughness.

    Forgot to add: cleaning shellac from spray equipment is so simple: use household ammonia instead of DNA. It's cheaper and does a better job (actually destroys shellac, rather than dilute it). Besides, it's a lot cheaper. The one watch out: it can discolor aluminum so if you gun has aluminum components don't soak them in the ammonia (DAHIKT).
    Last edited by fred hargis; 05-12-2014 at 11:50 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Austin, Texas
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    Both Shellac and Lacquer "burn in" so your final product is the sum of what you apply, a single coat after the solvent from all the layers has evaporated.

    Although I more often spray lacquer (since the final finish is more durable than shellac), in either case, if there is a lot of detail, I spray multiple thin coats... if the one coat doesn't get all the detail, no problem, just come from a different direction for the next coat. And the next and next.

    For spraying where I want to build with multiple thin coats, I use pretty thin material - for shellac think in terms of 1 pound cut. Since the Zinsser Seal Coat is a 2 pound cut out of the can, I dilute with equal parts denatured alcohol. Zinsser Shellac (they no longer call the Seal Coat Shellac) is a 3 pound cut out of the can - you actually get 1 1/2 times as much shellac per quart. Don't worry about exact measures... all the alcohol will be gone by the time the shellac is dry, so thinner shellac just means more alcohol to evaporate, and more coats to get the desired thickness for the final finish.

    Beware of the formula change with Zinsser Seal Coat. They recently started making it slightly acidic to extend the shelf life. However, that acid impacts some finishes - If I use shellac rather than a high tech sealer, I use just a thin coat, and have never had a problem with Zinsser, but I know some expert finishers who prefer a thicker coat of shellac and the acidity caused problems with their final finish. Their problems went away when they switched from Zinsser seal coat to shellac mixed from crystals.
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at www.solowoodworker.com

  4. #4
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    May 2011
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    Cape Cod, Ma.
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    thanks for the advice guys. I don't usually buy the Zinsser shellac. I order the flake from Jeff over at Homestead Finishing Products. Have had great consistency with his products.
    I ordered a bag of dewaxed orange for this project and will mix it up when Im ready. I thought the 1# would be ample as you both said the alcohol evaporates completely and leave the full finish. And I can build more coats that way if I need to.
    He who laughs last, thinks slowest

  5. #5
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    Sobe take a bit of grain filler to the top and to fill the nooks and grannies. When I spray shellac I always do it in Piss Coats. 4-6 coats. then wet sand with 2000 and buff.
    I dream a lot. I do more painting when I'm not painting. It's in the subconscious.
    ::: Andrew Wyeth :::
    colonialrestorationstudio.com

  6. #6
    Rich - Buy "Understanding Wood Finishing" by Bob Flexner. It's over 300 hundred pages long with hundreds of fantastic full color images. It's written in a very clear way, without being condescending or simplistic. Flexner is very good at explaining complex subjects and ideas clearly. He covers every subject from first word to last word, an introduction to nitty gritty details.

    http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-...ishing+flexner

    I have the 2010 edition and the book is simply mind-blowing.

  7. #7
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    Dave Agnew sounds like a great book I'll check it out.
    Dave Hawksford the nooks and crannies in this case are the details so no fill there lol.I like the idea of several spit coats and that sounds like the way I'll go. Several 1# cut sprayed then fluff and buff the final. I'll take pica
    He who laughs last, thinks slowest

  8. #8
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    Came out sweet!!! The hide glue was really cool to work with the table came apart and went back together like a breeze. Touched up some worn areas with TransTint dye and sprayed 8 coats of 1# cut dewaxed orange shellac that I mixed up from flakes. Let it dry for several days then rubbed it down with pastewax and 0000 steel wool.
    Customer was thrilled when I delivered it! Unfortunately I was under the gun as I got backed up on a prior project and had another one to start so in my haste I forgot to take pics throughout the process...
    Thanks for the tips everyone!!

    (on a side note: I think I will be giving hide glue a very serious look for future cabinet work!! )
    He who laughs last, thinks slowest

  9. #9
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    Amherst, New Hampshire
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    Never used hide glue before. What makes it better or easier to use than Titebond ????
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Wapakoneta, OH
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    I used it on one very large cabinet project. The very long open time (liquid hide glue) really gives you time to get the clamping done securely. It's also reversible, that is opening the joints up after it's dried is quite easy. In my case that really helps. I had this large cabinet on a furniture dolly and rolled it out into the sun on my concrete drive (cherry, wanted it to darken slightly). Anyway, a gust of wind blew it over to the edge of the drive and the dang thing fell face fist onto the gravel part of the drive. Some slight dings were easy to take care of, but one long stile on the face frame had to be completely removed and replaced. The hide glue made this possible. It definitely has it's use in the shop, though the long clamp time might not make it perfect for everything....besides, it doesn't impact finishes; glue spot don't show!

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