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How many coats of Shellac?

Jfrostjr's picture

I have used WB Poly on all of my furniture because of its alcohol resistance. No, I am NOT a heavy drinker, for those of you with evil thoughts or suspicious minds. Haven't you read another thread relating to the pleasures of relaxation at the end of the day?

I normally brush on 5 coats (of the WB Poly) before I begin to go through the grits with Abralon on my ROS. - 1,000, 2,000, 4,000 than Maguires.

I finally have been seduced by the shellac-heads at Knots and am using shellac on a cherry candle stand. (It DOES produce a really nice warm glow after 3 coats. I'm wavering.) But, how many coats should I apply before I "go through the grits"? My first coat, brushed on and then sanded w/ 320, was MinWax premixed, cut to 1#; my next two coats are about 1 1/2#.

Thanks for your help.

Frosty

"I sometimes think we consider the good fortune of the early bird and overlook the bad fortune of the early worm." FDR - 1922


Edited 7/31/2007 4:52 pm ET by Jfrostjr

Sphere's picture

(post #111307, reply #1 of 15)

I never sand after the first coat, just keep adding layers that burn in. Polish the last coat with wax.

 

Spheramid Enterprises Architectural Woodworks

Repairs, Remodeling, Restorations

PROUD MEMBER OF THE " I ROCKED WITH REZ" CLUB

 

JohnWW's picture

(post #111307, reply #2 of 15)

Minwax makes shellac?


John W.

John White Shop Manager for FWW Magazine, 1998 to 2007

Jfrostjr's picture

(post #111307, reply #3 of 15)

Sorry, John. It's Zinsser.

I had tried 4 different finishes on sample boards and must have gotten MinWax on the brain. I really don't like any of their products.

Frosty

"I sometimes think we consider the good fortune of the early bird and overlook the bad fortune of the early worm." FDR - 1922

SteveSchoene's picture

(post #111307, reply #4 of 15)

It is purely an esthetic issue. If you are using it to fill pores on mahogany or walnut it will take quite a few coats.  For oak it would take about forever.  Shellac looks good with very thin coats--as with French polish, or built to a thicker, deeper finish.  Sanding between coats is only needed if you are using the shellac to fill pores, or if you have a significant screw up.  Otherwise, it bonds completely together.  At the end you have only one coat applied in multiple stages.  If you are going to run through all those grits you should add an extra "stage" or two.  Going through all the grits is more efficient IF you stop exactly at the point where the scratches of the next coarser grit have been removed.  The tendancy is to over do it, especially with an ROS, so you need thicker coatings to avoid cut through. 

Test your finish on scrap, FIRST, or risk having to scrap your finish.

jimbell's picture

(post #111307, reply #5 of 15)

I'd like to second that posting. It is amazingly easy to sand through shellac, especially if you've been putting on 1 lb coats. "I think I'll just sand out that little drip there, oops . . ." OR "I know this is completely, perfectly flat, but oops, there must have been a high spot!"

frenchy's picture

(post #111307, reply #6 of 15)

Jfrostjr,


  You need to give shellac a light sanding after the first cost simply to remove the nubs that are raised.. If you fail to do that it takes a lot of shellac to produce a really great  deep shine.. Even then the real perfectionist  will quickly note the tiny little flecks that are the nubs or loose grain that pops up


 Now when I say light sanding I am speaking of using a 220 grit paper or sanding sponge.  I sand large flat spots at the rate of 1 to 1 1/2 seconds per bd.ft. curved surfaces really demand more time simply because you don't want to sand thru the edges  (which is extremely easy to do)..  your hands will quickly tell you when you have things smooth.   Do not  go for a perfection or try to smooth out the finish.   That's NOT  what you want to do.  Simply remove the little nubs, fuzz, scruffy tits, whatever..


  As for number of coats that varies a lot with the wood, the type of finish you seek and  how thin the cuts you apply are..  


     If you seek that really deep gloss that shellac is capable of then all the pores need to be filled.. don't think it takes a lot of shellac to get depth.. it takes smooth to get depth.. It's not a plastic filler..

KiddervilleAcres's picture

(post #111307, reply #7 of 15)

frenchy,


scruffy tits


Hmmmmm, there's a technical term I've not heard B4.  Obviously not like peach fuzz.


Regards,


Bob @ Kidderville Acres


 


A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

Bob @ Kidderville Acres

A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

Jfrostjr's picture

(post #111307, reply #8 of 15)

Thanks Frenchy.

That was the purpose of my sanding the first coat. I used 320. I've got 5 coats on, about 1 1/2# - 2# after the 1st coat. I plan on starting with 1,000 grit Abralon on the table top, and grey 3M on the legs and pedestle to even out the sheen; end with 4,000.

How long should it cure before I start to sand?

Frosty

"I sometimes think we consider the good fortune of the early bird and overlook the bad fortune of the early worm." FDR - 1922

frenchy's picture

(post #111307, reply #11 of 15)

Jfrostjr,


  I've not had good luck when using the thicker pound cuts.  shellac seems to take a long time to dry completely when I go above about 1 1/2# cut, so I can't really say.. With the lighter cuts I can always sand by the next day  I'm not sure about a 2# cut so you must decide.. does there seem to be any softeness in the finish?  or is it hard?? if it's hard then it's dry and you can sand..


  Start out with 320 and sand evenly, what you are seeking is a uniform dusting all across the surface.  no dark spots indicating unsanded areas no hollows or pits.. Carefully on edges where it's all too easy to sand thru.


 You aren't seeking a thick coat.   You are seeking smoothness..  once you have that uniform "dusting" effect the rest of the sanding process goes very quickly,  now don't go to really fine grits right away,, go to 400 grit and remove all the 320 scratches. then 600 etc.. baby steps and it goes fast, make big jumps and you go slow (I know how crazy that sounds but once you've done it you'll understand)  ..


    

Jfrostjr's picture

(post #111307, reply #12 of 15)

I'll start sanding tomorrow.

What a mess with the bridge! Are you impacted at all: friends, neighbors, work route?

Jerry

Frosty

"I sometimes think we consider the good fortune of the early bird and overlook the bad fortune of the early worm." FDR - 1922

frenchy's picture

(post #111307, reply #14 of 15)

Jfrostjr.


 Thanks for your concern.. None that I know of.  I've been over that bridge many times and it always bothered me how much it bounced.. We have another bridge on 35 over the Minnesota river which bounces just as much, I wonder if they were built by the same builder..

SteveSchoene's picture

(post #111307, reply #13 of 15)

The greater the total thickness the longer shellac takes to dry.  Still, if it takes overnight for just 1 fresh coat of 2 lb. cut to dry then I would suspect the freshness of the shellac. 

Test your finish on scrap, FIRST, or risk having to scrap your finish.

frenchy's picture

(post #111307, reply #15 of 15)

SteveSchoene,


  I do realize that without knowing just how thick the shellac is it's pretty hard to estimate drying time..


  Yes times seem to double with each coat but humidity seems to affect that as well. When we are chewing our air in order to breathe it seems like it takes twice as long again..


  I've found that if I apply 1 to 1 1/2 pound cuts my drying time is fairly predictable but when I use two pound cuts drying times lengthen  by more than the cube..  


I only tried 2# cuts a couple of times so I'm not an expert by any means but when I did 1 pound cuts from the same can everything dried normally.. Since then I've pretty much stuck to my 1  to 1 1/2 pound cuts because it seems to work for me..

9619's picture

(post #111307, reply #9 of 15)

Frosty,
Many people just don't understand about sanding. They think it should be done sparingly -- only as much as necessary. Obviously they have not become "sanding afficianados". They do not realize how one can achieve s deeper understanding of life itself by meditating during the sanding process. It is like running. Experienced runners know about achieving a "runner's high". People who really understand sanding can achieve a "sander's high". It is sad that not all woodworkers have achieved this higher state of oneness with a higher being. Sanding is the best way of achieving nirvana.
Peace be to the sanders.
"Sanders unite.!"
Runners have marathons and ultramarathons.
I believe that in the future of woodworking, we will see sanding marathons, and sanding ultra-marathons. They may replace "World's Strongest Man" competitions on TV.
Darwin knew that evolution always wins out, it just takes time.
In time, others will come to our way of thinking.
Enjoy,
Mel

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

Joe Sullivan's picture

(post #111307, reply #10 of 15)

Gracious! Nirvana -- and here I, the unenlightened one, thought I was merely stupified by boredom when sanding!

Joe