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Thread: Edges padding shellac

  1. #1
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    Edges padding shellac

    I am applying the finish to a hall table I built out of mahagony. I stained it with water-based stain and sprayed with Zinsser SealCoat (unwwaxed) shellac (in the spray can) to seal the stain, then applied Crystalac clear grain filler.

    I am now padding on the same shellac (from a can of course) and am getting edges along some of the overlap strokes of the pad. Most noticeable on the top of course. I also sometimes get some "fat edge" on sharp corners.

    I love the color and grain I am getting and am going to keep the shellac as the final finish.

    At this stage, what is the best way to avoid the overlap edges and the fat edges.

    I have seen butanol suggested as a retarder. Does that eliminate one or both types of edges? And if so, where can I buy it?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Try thinning the shellac. Sealcoat is about a 2# cut. Add about 50% more alcohol to it and it'll pad on much more nicely.

  3. #3
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    Jim's suggestion is good. The other thing is that you might have too much liquid in the pad -- a more dry pad can help. With a good pad, you should leave no lines. I typically pad out 1lb shellac with mineral oil as the lubricant.

  4. #4
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    You have too much finish on your wiper. There should never be enough to actually build a noticable film.
    Howie.........

  5. #5
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    Jim D, Joel and Howie: Thanks for three good suggestions.

    Jim D: Thinner I can do.

    Joel: How much mineral oil do I need to add?

    Howie: You are right that I have been using a fairly heavy coat, adding more shellac to try to make a noticeable coat with one swipe. Wiping thin was leaving mixture of shiny and dull due to almost no added shellac. When you wipe on thin like that, do you make multiple passes during the same coat? It seems like if you don't it would take lot of coats. Or do you just give it an hour or two to dry, add another thin coat without sanding?
    Last edited by Jim Jones; 03-19-2007 at 8:16 PM.

  6. #6
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    One other thing...be sure to "break" any sharp edges with 320 or other fine paper before you start finishing. A sharp edge can draw finish towards it and I find that exacerbated with Shellac.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker
    One other thing...be sure to "break" any sharp edges with 320 or other fine paper before you start finishing. A sharp edge can draw finish towards it and I find that exacerbated with Shellac.
    Thanks, Jim B. Unfortunately, I found out about that after I had gotten too far into the project. I'll have to take care of that on the next project.

  8. #8
    Jim, you'll want around a 1lb cut (Sealcoat 50/50 with alcohol is close enough). As for mineral oil, you don't need it if you're padding on, it's helpful if you go for a full on french polish. In anycase it's not much, a couple of drops.

    As for applying shellac, yes the pad is fairly dry and it doesn't look like your applying much - just wipe on in one direction and move on (landing an airplane). If you do it this way then the alcohol will flash off almost immediately and you'll be able to recoat in a minute (more or less). So, for a table top, you would land your airplane up and down the table adding a bit more shellac as you go. When you get to the end of the table you would start at the top again and apply another coat. Keep doing that until things start getting sticky then stop and let it dry for a few hours. So one "coat" of shellac is really one application setting in which you apply a bunch of coats. At the end of that setting you've applied a fairly thick film of shellac.

  9. #9
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    Thanks Steven. I'll give that a try today.

  10. #10
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    >> Wiping thin was leaving mixture of shiny and dull due to almost no added shellac.

    That's the way it should be. You build the finish with multiple applications. The first application should be a 1-2# cut brushed on. Then begin padding.

    With a wiper containing minimal shellac, use the swoop down, long stroke and swoop up technique. Think of a pilot practising "touch and goes". Keep the rows slighly overlapped. Recharge the wiper with shellac after each stroke. Keep you shellac in one of the those ketchup/mustard quirt bottles with a small orifice. Don't add much shellac when you recharge. Just a quick, short squirt. Better to be too dry than too wet. The first application will not look good. Don't worry. When you have covered the whole surface one time, go back and begin again. Keep that up for about 3-5 times until the wiper gets "grabby". Once that happens, stop and let the shellac fully dry. Next day, do it again. When you are done, you should not have to do anything more to the surface.

    The whole idea is to lay down a very thin film. Shellac is not a finish that you want to build up into a thick film. It will quickly crack and craze. Thinness is goodness.

    I would suggest you learn the padding process by using it on some scrap. Go through the whole process at least once or more until you feel comfortable with the process.
    Howie.........

  11. #11
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    Smile

    Thanks to all --
    Especially Howie's statement "thinness is goodness" which I locked into my brain.

    Using both a thinner cut and a lightly loaded pad, and applying it in thin swipes, it is looking great.

    I have been tied up on other things and just got back to finishing the table today. It is well on the way to completion and looking good.

    Previously my bigest mistake was that I kept loading more and more shellac to try to make a nice even coat in one pass. Howie is right. It just isn't necessary. Patience is good too.

    Thinning the cut helped as well. It is much like the French Polish technique I watched in Jeff Jewitt's DVD, but without the French part .

    Thanks again,
    Jim Jones

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