The Best and Easiest Way to Finish Pine

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by JSB posted 01-22-2013 06:18 AM 28689 views 5 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View JSB's profile


737 posts in 3415 days

01-22-2013 06:18 AM

Topic tags/keywords: video finishing pine best way to finish pine amber amber shellac shellac yellow pine beautiful pine pine look good stain

Sorry to those who have already seen this in my blog. I should have posted here from the beginning as this is the finishing forum.

In my opinion this is the best and easiest way to finish pine projects. This isn’t the greatest demonstration but hopefully I was able to show how easy it is to finish pine. The product I am using is Zinsser’s Amber Shellac. I suppose you could get similar results using a shellac compatible tint or dye for brown tones but I have not tried. I have never messed up a project using this method. The video is a little on the long side so I do apologize. I would love to hear any comments, suggestions, or questions you might have. Thanks for watching.

Here’s a link to the video:

-- Jay -

28 replies so far

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 5081 days

#1 posted 01-22-2013 12:56 PM

Nice video. Very informative. I like to spray shellac. I don’t have a spray booth, so I usually won’t do it if I have other pieces in the shop, then I’ll just pad it on.
You’ve got some nice projects done, using this method. Personally, my favorite finish for pine is to pour a little used mineral spirits on it and light it with a butane lighter. Keeps the shop nice and warm. But that’s me.
Thanks for the post.

View Dchip's profile


271 posts in 4589 days

#2 posted 01-22-2013 01:15 PM

I agree that it gives a great look. My only concern would be its use in a high-wear situation. Shellac is not known for its durability or resistance water for instance, and the Zinsser amber shellac only comes waxed (meaning it shouldn’t be top-coated, though this is always up for dispute). I guess you could do periodic touch-ups, though, since shellac is very friendly with re-coating. Thanks for the video.

-- Dan Chiappetta, NYC,

View kizerpea's profile


775 posts in 3704 days

#3 posted 01-22-2013 01:17 PM

Never done da 50/50 …but i,m gona give it a try…thanks


View JSB's profile


737 posts in 3415 days

#4 posted 01-22-2013 09:05 PM

Thanks for the comments folks.

Dchip – Shellac is ok with being top-coated. It is recommended to not use a Polyurethane based finish over waxed shellac…but I have done so with good results. The first blanket chest pictured in the video has a polyurethane top coat and was built 3 years ago with no problems. Any other type of finish such as lacquer is ok to use.

-- Jay -

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 4027 days

#5 posted 01-23-2013 03:08 AM

Thanks for posting that very informative video. I too noticed you used plain (not dewaxed Seal Coat) and then applied lacquer over it. The end result looked very nice but I’ve always been told not to topcoat over regular shellac. Have you ever had any problems with doing this?

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View JSB's profile


737 posts in 3415 days

#6 posted 01-23-2013 05:02 AM

I have never had any problems with poly or lacquer over shellac. If I’m not mistaken, it is only Polyurethane that has a problem with the shellac…not lacquer. Correct me if im wrong but every argument against waxed shellac specifically states polyurethane. Either way, I have never had any problems and will continue to top coat over shellac.

-- Jay -

View Ted's profile


2877 posts in 3548 days

#7 posted 01-23-2013 05:30 AM

I’m a big fan of shellac. Never thinned it to 50/50.. usually about 20/80, the 80 being shellac of course. Also I don’t have a sprayer so I always brush. I’ll have to try the 50/50 some time. I imagine it works a lot easier.

I’ve never done lacquer before, just always assumed it’s a bear to work with, requiring a special brushing technique to avoid overlapping because it dries so fast. But it looks pretty simple the way you did it. I’ll have to get some lacquer and give it a shot.

This is some really great info… thanks for sharing it.

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

View JSB's profile


737 posts in 3415 days

#8 posted 01-23-2013 05:31 AM

Ted. Try some Target Coatings EM6000. The BEST lacquer I have used. Easy water clean up too!

-- Jay -

View Woodknack's profile


13585 posts in 3717 days

#9 posted 01-23-2013 05:57 AM

Shellac is durable, just that it is less durable (usually) than varnish or lacquer. Varnish quality however varies a lot, just look at durability tests and it’s not uncommon for one brand to fail in days while another lasts for weeks or months (under extreme conditions). I put 2 coats of shellac on my living room floor and it lasted for 3 years. I put 2 coats of varnish on my dining room floor and it barely lasted a year. With the living room I can just put down more shellac but the dining room has to be sanded down and refinished. The shellac isn’t durable thing gets blown way out of proportion and I’d guess it started with varnish manufacturers.

-- Rick M,

View a1Jim's profile


118309 posts in 4914 days

#10 posted 01-23-2013 06:11 AM

Dewaxed shellac will allow you to top coat with any finish,I don’t see any reason to use shellac that has wax in it.


View shampeon's profile


2167 posts in 3520 days

#11 posted 01-23-2013 06:49 AM

+1 on the Target EM6000. Sprays nicely, self-levels, and cleanup couldn’t be easier.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View Dchip's profile


271 posts in 4589 days

#12 posted 01-23-2013 03:03 PM

It’s not so much the durability of shellac as it is its resistance to water, alcohol etc. From what I understand it’s actually a very hard finish (and the ease of reapplication should always be considered – I fear needing to touch up old poly-coated pieces). The existence of 100+ year old antique furniture finished in shellac and still going strong is a pretty good argument.

Rick – You’re probably right about the varnish companies. Marketing can make things fact – look at DeBeers.

And regarding top-coating waxed shellac – the wood whsiperer did a video about this and concluded that it didn’t affect anything, again with the expected dispute to follow. One point raised was the fact that it may be good for a couple of years, but eventually fail before it otherwise should have. My oldest pieces are nearing about 6 years old, so ask me again in another 30.

-- Dan Chiappetta, NYC,

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2172 posts in 4187 days

#13 posted 01-23-2013 04:23 PM

There’s considerable information here.

What happens to the shelf life of the product once it is cut with the alcohol?

What brush do you recommend?

Thanks kindly,


-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View JSB's profile


737 posts in 3415 days

#14 posted 01-23-2013 05:13 PM

There is always going to be controversy on this subject. For me it works. I have never had a problem. And until I do (If I ever do?) I will continue to use this technique. I understand that if you want to make a piece of furniture last 100 years or more you would want to take all the upfront precautions you could but lets keep this in perspective. I definitely wouldnt be using knotty pine if +100 years was the objective. Were using cheepo knotty pine here. With the wood used I would be more concerned with the longevity of the knots and the wood itself than the finish.

Dchip – Im with you, ask me in another 30.

Lee – Shelf life is not an issue for me. I always use it within a month or two. Never had any problems. I like to keep into consideration what I am working on and what I have planned. I use a cheepo synthetic brush and have used the same brush for the past several projects without cleaning it out. I let it dry and harden on the brush. When I am going to apply this finish again I let the brush soak in the new mixture for about 10 minutes and the brush is ready to go again. I suppose you could be worried about contamination here but I personally don’t think so.

6 one way, half a dozen the other.

-- Jay -

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 4027 days

#15 posted 01-24-2013 01:45 AM

JSB- Thanks for the replies and the informative video. I am a big shellac fan!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

showing 1 through 15 of 28 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics