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Forum topic by CrankAddict posted 08-11-2020 04:02 AM 557 views 1 time favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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CrankAddict

111 posts in 650 days


08-11-2020 04:02 AM

This is my first project that isn’t just wiped down with Danish oil at the end and it’s definitely stressing me out! :) I’m building a small kitchen table out of maple and I wanted to keep the wood as light/natural looking as possible so I’m using dewaxed shellac as a sealer and then I was going to spray satin polycrylic to give it a little more protection. I’ve done two coats of the shellac and have tried applying with both a microfiber cloth and a foam brush. I’m trying to always follow a wet edge as it gets tacky and pulls quite quickly.

My main issue is around the edges. I have read that each layer of shellac should melt into the layer beneath, but I’m still seeing the lines around the edge from the previous layer. Basically I put the first layer on the top, then did the end grain sides. That second part left a small lip/bead all the way around from the rag (I guess) accidentally touching the top while trying to wipe the sides. I sanded everything with 220 after the first coat, but could still see the lines a bit. I didn’t want to go too nuts sanding since it’s on a corner and I figured it would easily burn through having only a single coat. But when I applied a second coat to the top (with a foam brush this time) I still see the lines clearly. So am I going to need to sand this all the way down and start over or am I missing something else?

Here’s a pic of the overall project and a closeup showing the lines I’m talking about. Any advice on how to proceed would be appreciated!



24 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

118134 posts in 4425 days


#1 posted 08-11-2020 04:16 AM

This looks more like a line from sanding or a continuous brush or rag mark. If you sand some more it will not be an issue applying another coat or two ,it’s also possible you haven’t cut the shellac enough and it’s too thick.

-- https://www.artisticwoodstudio.com/videos

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a1Jim

118134 posts in 4425 days


#2 posted 08-11-2020 04:33 AM

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

3586 posts in 2342 days


#3 posted 08-11-2020 06:06 AM

Hmm.
If the shellac was intended to seal and enhance the wood grain, then one coat was enough.
Why two?
The surface sheen shows a thick shellac coat.
What pound cut did you use to seal the wood?
Most folks use one coat of a 1lb cut as sealer.
Thicker the shellac, the more color is adds.

IMHO – Done with shellac, grain is sealed. Sand it back to expose top of the wood with 150 grit, and switch to the polycrylic. You will get better adhesion if polycrylic bonds to wood too. After a couple coats of polycrylic, then sand nice and flat with 220-400 grit. After adding a couple more coats, roughen surface with white plastic scuff pad (0000 steel wood equivalent that is best for WB finishes), and add the last perfect coat for your final sheen.
Let it dry a couple weeks indoors, then add a nice wax protective layer.
Ready for use.

There is no such thing as perfect finish. You will go crazy trying to make one.
Relax, have fun, as no one but you will see the miniature defects. :-)

Best Luck!

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6415 posts in 3341 days


#4 posted 08-11-2020 10:39 AM

When you have such lines in shellac they can be rubbed out using a pad that is loaded with just alcohol. The alcohol will dissolve the shellac, the pad will smooth things out and then the shellac will dry again. This isn’t hard to do, but it’s always a bad idea to learn to do something on a completed project. So maybe crate the problem on a piece of scrap and then try what I suggested, as fast as shellac dries it shouldn’t take too much time.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

5794 posts in 2235 days


#5 posted 08-11-2020 11:40 AM

+1 on using a pad wet with alcohol to re-level. I’ve even done this on a vintage piece whose shellac surface was a little beat up before applying another coat of shellac without having to sand. It has the added benefit of cleaning any built up grime off. If the line doesn’t go away with a swipe with the wet rag, then I agree with Jim. It may be a line in the wood that just wasn’t visible until you put a finish on it.

BTW, the shellac was probably not necessary before the Polyacrylic unless you wanted to add a little amber tone so it doesn’t look quite as bland. The Polyacrylic will seal the grain just fine so you could also just sand it until smooth and apply the final finish.

Also, Polyacrylic tends to look a little plastic to me and I much prefer an oil based wiping poly. IMO it is also easier to apply than the Polyacrylic, though requires more coats, and is very forgiving because it builds slowly. You can buy the Minwax wiping poly but you can make your own by simply mixing an oil based poly of the sheen you want with mineral spirits 1:1 or 2:1 for fewer coats. It is probably the most fool proof finish I have used.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View CrankAddict's profile

CrankAddict

111 posts in 650 days


#6 posted 08-11-2020 01:31 PM

Hi guys,

So the reason I’m using a dewaxed shellac as a first layer with a polycrylic on top is because I came across several references that said this was their preferred way to pop the grain on figured wood without adding any yellow/amber color, and still ending with something that has protection. I also read how easy/forgiving shellac was as a finish so I figured it would be a good match for my beginner skill set.

But just to prove how much of a beginner you’re dealing with here, when you guys refer to rubbing with a “pad” can you be more specific what that is? A scotchbrite? A sanding pad? A two-layer cotton french polishing pad?

I’m 99% sure those lines are not in the wood. I could feel the raised edge from the extra shellac buildup. And when I started sanding that line turned white right away (in other words I seemed to be working on the line, it wasn’t below the shellac). I didn’t sand it away completely because I didn’t want to hit bare wood again and I had just assuming putting more shellac on top would blend it all together but that didn’t really happen.

As far as why I’m bothering with a second layer of shellac if it’s just a sealer, I figured I couldn’t stop the shellac phase until I had a “perfect” looking consistency. I worried that if I poly’d over the line, I would just be locking it in for good.

View Axis39's profile

Axis39

336 posts in 445 days


#7 posted 08-11-2020 02:18 PM

By ‘pad’ guys are referring to a cloth rag, wadded up into a rubbing pad. You can go with a pad like you would use for french polishing, but I think you can get away with just a good lint-free cotton rag.

I would agree with a couple of folks who hinted that you are putting the shellac on too thickly…. To seal and get the grain to really pop, all you need is a water thin coat or two.

And, yes, if you left that ridge, and poly’d over it, you’d just have to deal with it later…

-- John F. SoCal transplant, chewer uppper of good wood

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CrankAddict

111 posts in 650 days


#8 posted 08-11-2020 02:38 PM

I am just using the Zinnser seal coat as-is. My understanding was this was already thinned to be a 2# cut vs 3# for normal shellac? But it sounds like you guys are saying it should have been thinned even more? I read that the more you thin it (the higher the alcohol) the faster it dries and the less it levels. Figured I wasn’t ready to start doing custom brews on my first finishing job ever, but who knows.

In any case it sounds like I need to pick up some denatured alcohol. And I guess this “totally clear” dewaxed shellac still imparted colors, so I feel like I want to start over to lessen that effect. Oh, and I found a little “curly q” that IS in the wood… looks like I had a piece of grit or something on the DA in one of the pre-finish sanding stages… so, back to square one.

If I truly do get down to bare wood again, are you guys actually saying that polycrylic on the wood directly will look as good? No actual need for shellac? That’s not what I had read elsewhere but…

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

3586 posts in 2342 days


#9 posted 08-11-2020 03:27 PM

One thing you need to learn is differences in wood grain and then when/why enhancing grain figure improves the look of the project. Try this reference to get you started:
http://workshopcompanion.com/KnowHow/Design/Nature_of_Wood/1_Wood_Grain/1_Wood_Grain.htm

The key to improving wood grain look is highlighting the differences in microscopic grain structure by allowing a finish to soak into the pores that make the figure special. You don’t need to cover the grain with thick shellac/varnish/poly coating, simply want something that will soak deep into wood and highlight the differences. Can highlight the grain differences with some dye, oil, or shellac; depending on wood type and desired effect.

Another thing that is mixed into your understanding of finishing is purpose of using shellac as sealer.
Many woods can have exposed end grain fibers in middle of board (curved growth around where branches where at one time). The areas are very porous and soak in massive amounts to finish compared to the surrounding area. When this happens you get color blotches and dark/uneven appear across the boards. Oil finishes on cherry are notorious for blotching, and can search for more information if needed.
A 1lb cut of shellac is often used to seal these deep hungry pores; before adding stain, or an oil based top coat that darkens heavily in end grain fibers. Again the purpose of shellac is to be invisible, and typically sand the top wood surface to ensure the stain can penetrate the wood when adding color. When using only a top coat, a sealer is generally not used; UNLESS you want to enhanced the grain figure or you want to fill the wood grain perfectly smooth.

Hope this helps to explain why I suggest you should sand back the shellac to bare wood, and others suggest you don’t need it all?

As far as ‘pads’:
One type is pad use for french polishing technique of applying shellac:
https://www.wikihow.com/Apply-a-French-Polish

I use plastic sanding/scuff pads as part of my finishing process, instead of steel wool or fine grit sand paper. Different mfg use difference colors for different grits, but here is some references:
https://www.nortonabrasives.com/en-us/resources/expertise/hand-pad-recommendations
https://www.3m.com/3M/en_US/metalworking-us/products/flat-stock/hand-pads/
I use the 3M Ultra fine hand pads. White instead of 320+ grit and grey instead of 220 grit. I would use white pad and some alcohol to remove the line in shellac above. :-)

There are massive number of finishing techniques. It is confusing to everyone when starting. There are several books that might help. Bob Flexner book ‘Understanding Wood Finishing’ is popular with many folks. It is great for beginners, but it is easy to out grow the information as there are so many options in finishing. I prefer the ‘Tauntons Complete Illustrated Guide To Finishing’ edited by Jeff Jewitt as my reference, when I forget stuff. Many folks have both and several other references as it is easy to forget all the little details in all the possible finishing methods. ;-)

Hope this helps.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6415 posts in 3341 days


#10 posted 08-11-2020 03:45 PM

A pad is simply a piece of cloth wrapped around some sort of filling. A very well worn out tee shirt wold be excellent, wraps it around a filling some kind of wool, like the toe of an old worn our hunting sock. The filling holds the shellac (or alcohol) and you put in enough that it just starts to show on the surface of the pad, after that you squeeze the ball to make more appear. Be sure to wear gloves when you do this.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View CrankAddict's profile

CrankAddict

111 posts in 650 days


#11 posted 08-11-2020 03:45 PM

It does help, thank you! I’ll check out those books and pads for sure.

As I touch this piece a bit more I’m not liking the plastic feel of it either, and we haven’t even gotten to the poly yet. The bottom line is my wife and I both really liked the look and feel of the 100% raw freshly sanded maple. I just want to keep that look/feel and be able to set a coffee mug on top of it, is that too much to ask? ;) I see literally hundreds of posts over the last decade asking for the same thing. But no concrete answers. CAB seems to get good reviews, but requires a spraying setup that I don’t have.

So just to set my expectations, is it possible to have wood that looks and feels raw yet is still protected? We bought some ash Wenger style chairs that are going with this table and they feel like raw wood, have no sheen, etc. But I have to assume they have some protection on them. Just no idea what it may be…

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

3325 posts in 2645 days


#12 posted 08-11-2020 04:28 PM

The best way to build a coat of shellac is very very thin coats. Barely perceptible the shellac should be thinned so that when you put a couple drops between your fingers and tap them together the shellac will dry so fast they don’t stick together.
The stuff from a can is a poor example of how great shellac can be. Look to buy fresh flakes. Buy from the Shellac shack. Super blonde.
I build with a folded cotton cloth not round like a French man. Folded like a American :)

Good. Luck

-- Aj

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

3586 posts in 2342 days


#13 posted 08-11-2020 04:38 PM

So just to set my expectations, is it possible to have wood that looks and feels raw yet is still protected?
- CrankAddict

IMHO – As long you limit your process/material options to retail grade coatings, you can not have a clear top coat with minimal film build that doesn’t look like plastic film, and provides protection.

Need to use a Water base 2 part conversion varnish (Target EM8000, etc), or Water base 2 part Polyurethane (Renner) if want decent protection, with minimal film build, and minimal color addition.
If lessor protection is OK for your table top, there are several industrial grade solvent based CAB lacquers (SW Sherwood CAB), as well as WB polyacrylic type coatings that work well in thin films (Target EM6000, Gemini EVO, etc).

If willing to give up protection and give the table annual maintenance, can use plain oil coating. BLO or tung oil has been used for years this way, and still works same today. The hardening oil coating without any added varnish or poly are also easy to repair if/when damaged, so it’s not a bad choice (unless maybe you have reckless kids in your home?).

Please don’t shoot the messenger.

Best Luck!

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

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CrankAddict

111 posts in 650 days


#14 posted 08-11-2020 04:47 PM


IMHO – As long you limit your process/material options to retail grade coatings, you can not have a clear top coat with minimal film build that doesn t look like plastic film, and provides protection.

- CaptainKlutz

Thanks for all your input, Captain. At least I know the terms now. I would have preferred a simple oil finish for ease of application in a heartbeat, but that seems to be universally agreed that it will yellow/darken the light wood. Even oil based poly gives a yellow tint that I really dislike. This will teach me to just build everything from walnut in the future lol.

View Rich's profile

Rich

5865 posts in 1437 days


#15 posted 08-11-2020 05:15 PM


So just to set my expectations, is it possible to have wood that looks and feels raw yet is still protected? We bought some ash Wenger style chairs that are going with this table and they feel like raw wood, have no sheen, etc. But I have to assume they have some protection on them. Just no idea what it may be…

- CrankAddict

There are a host of modified oil and wax blends out there that offer excellent protection. Two I have experience with are Osmo Polyx and Briwax Hard Wax Oil. Other popular choices are Odie’s Oil and Rubio Monocoat. Don’t think that it is anything like oil or wax, or even blends like Tried & True. These cure to an incredibly durable and stain resistant finish, with minimal build. They will also pop the grain like you were doing with the shellac.

Don’t get sticker shock however. A little goes a long way. The Briwax product is reasonable at around $28/qt, but I didn’t find it performed as well as the Osmo. For reference, I put three coats of Osmo Polyx on my 36×80 inch workbench recently and used less than half of a 0.75L can, and that was using a foam brush to get a good, thick layer. That’s not how you’d do your table, so you’d use far less.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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