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I have never used shellac before. Always used lacquer and polyeurathane. I have always read that an advantage of shellac is you could spray a coat and it would dry very quickly (in 30-60 minutes) you could sand it down, spray again, etc. you could pretty much finish a small project in a day. So I tried it on a small project and I am finding it takes a long time to dry. I am spraying thin coats. Using a 2 pound cut. I didn't mix flakes with alcohol. It's Zinser. I live in Texas where it is in the high 60's to low 70's. This stuff doesn't dry even over night. Still gummy to the touch. Any thoughts or advice?
 

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How old is the can? If it's too old, I believe it remains tacky, etc. since you have never used Shellac, I'd assume it's new.

I have never used Shellac in any environment other that very, very arid. I can't imagine humidity would prevent it from drying-
 

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Yeah, it sounds to me like you have some really old stock. Freshly mixed flakes will only keep several months, Zinnser has some magic they mix into their products to make them last quite a bit longer (up to 3 years, I think). Even so, if the can has been stored improperly, or is way out of date…it won't dry. Be aware, if you just bought that and the store doesn't have a good inventory turn it may have aged sitting in the store. The cans are code dated, but I'm not sure the general public has the key to deciphering it.
 

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Just got it from a big box store. No date on it though.

- hokieman
Some where on that can will be a date code. I think with seal coat it's the lot #.

Found this on a Google search:
I sent Zinsser/Rust-Oleum an e-mail asking about their shellac. This is their response…

The lot number that you have was manufactured May 17th, 2010.
S05179 reads as follows, S-Somerset NJ.
The first digit after the letter is the year of manufacture 0-2010.
The second digit is the month 5-May. (O-October, N-November, D-December).
The next 2 digits are the day of the month 17-17th day.
The final digit is for our records, the batch was made on the 9th run of the day.
Shellac has a 3 year shelf life.
We hope this is helpful. Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.

Regards,
Eric
 

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Oh on another note. Seal coat cans have a habit of springing leaks in the bottom of the can. Re-package it or set the can in a try or something, it makes a real mess when the leak. DAMHIKT
 

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Agree with all the others that the shellac is too old. To test shellac for curing - put a few drops on a piece of clean glass. If it doesn't dry in 60 minutes or less, it's too old. I dissolve flakes and date label the container, but sometimes it can sit for quite a while before I use it all. I use this test to know if I need to pitch it.
 

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I'll add my agreement: Your shellac should absolutely be dry after waiting overnight. I'm assuming you are spraying the stuff straight from the can. Did you thin it first? What did you thin it with?

The Zinsser stuff is supposed to have something in it to increase the shelf life. But what you are describing does sound like old, worn out shellac (staying gummy). I'd contact Zinsser and see if they can confirm the date and maybe replace the can.

A test you can do is this: Take some shellac and drip some onto a piece of glass. Let it sit for a few minutes. Then tip the glass vertical. None or very little of the shellac should be running down the glass.
 

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Your shellac may not be old ,but it may have been in a frozen environment. Given the temperature through out the US it's possible this shellac was setting in a truck some where they had subzero temperatures. I'd return it and do a test on the new can's contents before you go,usually in these cases the paint department will do it for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for all the comments. I contacted Zinsser and the lot number says it was made in Feb of 2014, so it's fresh. It isn't temperture related as I live in south Texas where it's been in the upper 60's to lower 70's. The Zinsser folks suggested that I have sprayed it on too thick. Sure doesn't seem that I did. I like the results once it dries, though. Next time I'll my own and see how,that goes.
 

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Oh on another note. Seal coat cans have a habit of springing leaks in the bottom of the can. Re-package it or set the can in a try or something, it makes a real mess when the leak. DAMHIKT

- AlaskaGuy
Found this out myself. Ruined the bottom of a shop cabinet.
 

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In my experience with Shellac, it usually dries too quick. Spraying shellac, the particles often start to dry before they hit the project. Wiping on shellac is fine, but it takes many coats to build up a finish.
As far as efficient finishing in one day, nothing beats lacquer in my book. Two coats from a gravity-feed gun is all you need.
Good luck with the shellac issues.
 
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