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Thread: Why Shellac?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Central, PA

    Why Shellac?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Itapevi, SP - Brazil
    Thanks for share that. Very instructive paper.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Wayland, MA
    Interesting, but I'm not about to reinvent finishing techniques that work for me. Perhaps it's my imagination, but shellac appears to me to pop the figure much more than water-based top finishes, so a combination of the two is giving me a best of both worlds solution. I find it to be about the easiest film finish to work with-- I've just recently learned how to apply a French polish; what a wonderful looking and feeling finish!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    SE Michigan
    Canít disagree that it probably isnít the best solution for a factory/production facility. As a hobbyist, I find its advantages to be low toxicity (small shop/winter finishing), dries extremely quick, and as Roger indicated, a great way to pop the grain prior to a water based top coat (or any other top coat for that matter).

    As Flexner indicates, itís great for specialty uses as well i.e. to seal prior/after grain filling, medium for powdered dyes, sealing in color corrections or repairs, blotch control, etc.

    I wouldnít say itís a difficult finish at all. A short learning curve similar to most other finishes.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Kansas City
    It seemed to me that the main point of the article, as stated in the title, is questioning shellac as a sealer, for new builds. I didn't get that he was questioning it as a finish material itself or for other situations.

  6. #6
    Im no one to question Flexner's expertise. I like shellac and I use it regularly on projects that will live in the shop - shop carts, tool stands, jigs, my moxon vise, etc. It's easy to apply, dries quickly and provides at least "some" protection against dirt and grime.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  7. #7
    I've seen that one before. I would agree, that in a production environment such as a factory or pro cabinet shop, shellac serves no purpose and is unnecessary. But by his logic, I would extend that to any solvent based finish, particularly solvent based polyurethane and any oil like BLO or Watco. In a production environment, I would use nothing but waterbase for both low toxicity and quick dry time.

    For the one-off and limited run work that most of us do here, shellac (and oil based products) are wonderful and appropriate. Shellac (and oil based products) can help build a much better depth of finish and allow more variety of finishes than production water base. They also are much handier for people who don't have spray equipment or don't want to break it out just to put finish on a recipe box. I would include all uses of shellac here, including sealer, barrier coat, dye/toner carrier, and finish.
    Last edited by Andrew Seemann; 03-06-2021 at 12:46 PM.

  8. #8
    And they used to coat pills with it to keep them from dissolving too fast. But today some drug makers WANT them to dissolve fast ! Whatís
    the SCIENCE ?!

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Mel Fulks View Post
    And they used to coat pills with it to keep them from dissolving too fast. But today some drug makers WANT them to dissolve fast ! What’s
    the SCIENCE ?!
    It depends on where they want the pill to dissolve. If they want it to go quickly and in the stomach, then no coating. For pills they don't want to dissolve in the stomach, they often get coated with shellac or something else so so they dissolve in the gut; this is typically to prevent the medication from upsetting or irritating the stomach.

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