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Due to winter, I am now stuck unable to apply finish to a project…I don't want to smell danish oil and varnish for weeks inside my house! I was wondering, how bad does shellac smell? I assume the alcohol smell goes away rather quickly, but what about the shellac itself? Any other suggestions for a stinkless/non-toxic finish?
 

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To me at least, shellac does not have any appreciable odor. THe alcohol, as Charlie says, will flash off in 15 to 30 minutes and you are left with a topcoat that protects the surface of the wood. Its biggest drawback are exposure to water or alcohol will damage the finish.
 

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If it's a large project, you can expect a lot of alcohol odor. Not sure how long it'll take to dissipate from the air, but the finished piece should be odor free in a day or so.
 

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I use shellac a ton, love it…The smell is strong at first but dissipates within the hour. It dries pretty fast and is fairly durable aside from the water and alcohol damage susceptibility. It can also be repaired relatively easily. If you can get your shop to 50 degrees or just a bit warmer you can apply it without problems. If you are still concerned with the smell of shellac, you could always hand apply it with a ball of cotton in a rag made from an old sheet. Just applying very very thin layers. Add a drop of veggie oil to the pad for lubrication when the pad starts to stick and you build up a glass like finish. You have to thin the shellac to at least a 2# cut with alcohol. This really cuts down on the smell because the shellac will dry almost instantaneously. Beware though it takes a lot of elbow grease to get it right. If you want more info on more of the particulars shoot me an email.
 
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