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  • Poly over shellac?

    It was recommended by someone at Woodcraft to use a 1 pound cut of shellac followed by a gel stain to remedy a blotchy result I was getting without the shellac. This technique has worked well. It was also recommended that I repeat the shellac between coats of gel. However, I was planning to top coat with polyurethane. After reading the directions on the shellac can, it say not to top coat with poly. As these are kitchen cabinets, I feel shellac as a top coat may not hold up to contact with water.

    Any suggestions what to top coat with would be appreciated. Or should I prestain with dilute poly?

    Best regards,

    Henry

    [ 06-12-2003, 12:32 PM: Message edited by: Henry Anthony ]

  • #2
    I assume that's Zinsser Bulls-Eye Shellac. Looks cloudy in the can? If you can find it, Zinsser has a newer product called Seal Coat that will do exactly what you're looking for.

    The difference here is that shellac contains wax, that's what makes it look cloudy. Poly varnish has notoriously poor adhesion, and there's enough wax there to give problems. Seal Coat has the wax removed, and poly varnish will stick to it fine.

    Another possible avenue would be to switch to a non-poly varnish. They don't have quite the adhesion problems of the polys. Frankly, this wouldn't be among my first choices though.

    Sealing between applications of gel stain is an unusual suggestion in itself. I can't give direct advice there, because I don't like gels and don't use them. You might want to seek another opinion on that front. The only reason I can think to do it is if you want to push the coats too close together, in which case the newer coating could disturb the earlier one. My suggestion in that case would be to give it the proper dry time.

    Dave

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    • #3
      Yes, it is Zinsser Bull's Eye. Haven't seen the Seal Coat version around. I'll keep a look-out.

      I am looking to give a very slight color cast to my maple cabinets and have not been satisfied with my attempts to get a consistent color with dye stain. The gel over shellac has given me the control over color I am looking for.

      Thanks for the words of advice. I thought building the cabinets was going to be the tough part. This finishing is a whole new universe!

      Best regards,

      Henry

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      • #4
        Henry

        Using poly over Shellac is simple, if you use a dewaxed Shellac. I do not buy shellac in the can (anymore). I mix mine using dry flacks and DA.

        http://www.woodworking.org/WC/GArchi...lashellac.html


        This article I wrote will give you a little more insite into using Shellac. It's not all that long to read..............

        [ 06-12-2003, 05:54 PM: Message edited by: Keystone ]
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        • #5
          My wife used poly over shellac on a built in china cabinet she refinished. She was having problems with the shellac clouding up if anything was put on it. Her Cat jumped up on the cabinet and the heat of his feet left tracks you could see. This happened after it was completley dry.
          She used the Bulls Eye shellac (formerley called 3# white).
          She solved her problem by topcoating with poly.
          The nice, warm shellaced finish is gone, but at least the cabinet can be used. Have seen no adhesion problems to date, and the re-finish is about a year old now.
          Rob Johnson
          Orange,Ca.
          Just tilt your head a little and it will look straight!

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          • #6
            Key, Thanks for the link and for helping me understand the mysterious world of shellac. Who the heck ever first thought "Hey, maybe I can use this bug to finish wood?" After a bit of Googling I came up with this link about French Polishing. Sounds more like torture to me but it is interesting and employs techniques similar to your article.

            http://www.milburnguitars.com/fpbannerframes.html

            Backyard, how about a pair of slippers for that cat? ;o)

            I'll be heading on down to HD to return that gallon of waxy shellac and try the seal coat. As always, thanks for the help folks.

            Best regards,

            Henry

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            • #7
              French polishing isn't as hard as it often is made to sound. It is a little tiring, particularly on larger surfaces. The effect is amazing, though.

              I didn't read the whole set of articles at the Milburn Guitars link. I would like to comment on a very unusual term they use, however. They refer to the pad as a "muneca". I have no idea what country they are in, but here it is commonly referred to as a "pad" or by it's French name, "tampon" (no giggling).

              If interested in trying French polishing, a piece of about 11x17 is good for practice. Small enough to not wear you out, but large enough to get a stroke going.

              Dave

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              • #8
                Couldn't find a definition for "MUNECA" in either English, French or Spanish dictionaries. I think these French Polishers spend so much time rubbing wood they came up with their own language. Here is another one from the article, "LUTHERIE". It means the making of stringed instruments. May be interesting to the woodbutchers here.

                http://www.luth.org/

                Best regards,

                Henry

                [ 06-13-2003, 03:18 PM: Message edited by: Henry Anthony ]

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                • #9
                  Lutherie is a word in common use. A person who practices lutherie being a luthier.

                  Dave

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                  • #10
                    Dave

                    I've heard two people use the word "muneca" to discribe a French Polish pad. Both were from the otherside of the big pond.

                    Update to my article. I have been practicing with French Polish or wipe on Shellac. Although it is a work out on your hands, the results a really nice. I imaginge as I get more practice in, the time span on the aplication will get better.
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                    • #11
                      A little off topic perhaps, but one of the best tips I have gotten that does not seem to be universally applied is to finish raised panels before assembly. One of the woodworking magazines consistently endorses this while the others, and my buddy Norm, have not. Living in Georgia, I see some pretty significant changes in humidity from season to season and the shrinking of the panel reveals a line of natural wood that never seems to reseat when the panel swells again.

                      I don't know if your cabinets have raised panels and this method does force you to address the issues you are raising here before final assembly so it may be too late. Just thought I'd pass it along.

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                      • #12
                        Jerry,

                        I was going to start another thread on this topic. I was even thinking of finishing the rails and stiles before assembly to avoid having to work into the corners. With spray equipment this would probably not matter but I am brush and rag at this time. Thanks for the insight.

                        Best regards,

                        Henry

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                        • #13
                          And don't forget to also finish the drawer fronts before assembling the dovetails.

                          One of the saddest things I saw was beautiful hand cut dovetails with a dark wood drawer front and light drawer sides (such as maple), then stain crudely wiped over the sides of the dovetails and half way down the drawer. Ugly.

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