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Forum topic by jkaras posted 05-26-2014 09:16 PM 1364 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 1923 days

05-26-2014 09:16 PM

Topic tags/keywords: sander sanding finishing question


I am new to finishing wood with shellac. I have a hardwood object that has lots of large sweeping curves. I have applied about 5 brush coats of shellac using an abrasive pad between layers to keep the brush marks topped off. After the last layer I used a 01 steel wool to take down the brush marks. Then a 0000 steel wool to smooth those marks down, followed by a light gray (ultra-fine) 7448 scotch-brite abrasive pad to smooth that out. Finally, I used a white non-abrasive pad to finish it out. It looked stunning and satin, but it looked even better when I took a turtle wax brand auto polish to the surface and polished it out on a sample.

Since then I went for it on the final piece. There are a few matte patches here and there that just don’t want to polish out. I am worried that I possibly worked it below the 5 layers of shellac. Is there any other cause for this or have I removed all of the shellac in those spots?

If so what can I do to fix this?

Thank you in advance!

3 replies so far

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3141 days

#1 posted 05-27-2014 12:23 AM

I would just keep rubbing more shellac into these areas with a small piece of soft cloth pad using a drop of mineral oil for lubricant occasionally. I’m guessing you either went through the shellac or the wood was more porous in these areas and soaked it up.

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

View Woodknack's profile


12870 posts in 2831 days

#2 posted 05-27-2014 06:52 AM

Also, you don’t need to sand every coat like a varnish. Shellac melts into itself so I usually sand the first coat and last coat depending on how it feels. Often I just use steel wool on the final coat. Shellac really benefits from high speed speed buffing so if you have a buffer give that a try.

-- Rick M,

View Fettler's profile


200 posts in 2447 days

#3 posted 05-27-2014 08:25 AM

You might want to look into french polishing. Basically you create a rubbing pad out of an absorbent material (maybe wool) wrapped in a couple layers of cheese cloth. Soak the rubbing pad in the shellac (cut down to 2lbs or less). You can use some pumice powder as a filler and a drop of mineral oil as a buffer. Work the rubbing pad around in circles to build up a layer then before it dries even it out with long strokes on the grain. Let it dry ~10-15 minutes and go again. Keep the rubbing pad wet in alcohol store it in a jar to prevent it from drying out.

The beauty of evaporation finishes is that its easy to correct mistakes. You can always wash away mistakes with alcohol. BTW, if you’re mixing your own shellac you can get longer work times with Behlen’s Bekhol shellac solvent.

After you’ve got like 15-coats of shellac =) , let it dry completely for 48-hours (recommended by zinser) before rubbing out the finishing as needed.

-- --Rob, Seattle, WA

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