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Thread: "Paint" shellac onto a bowl and polish it up?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
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    Kensington, Maryland
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    "Paint" shellac onto a bowl and polish it up?

    I watched a Youtube video yesterday of a turner from Woodworkers Journal finishing a bowl. He dipped a 2" wide paintbrush into a can of Zinsser Sealcoat, slopped it over the bowl (that was mounted on the lathe), casually wiped off the excess, and then turned the lathe on and polished it up with a paper towel. He then put some briwax over it.

    I am aware of, and have tried the "shine-juice" formula of shellac, BLO, and DNA (in my experience it works fine but isn't all that consistent or pretty), and I am no stranger to using Sealcoat as a primer, but I was surprised to see this very basic approach used successfully. My question is -- does anyone else use this approach? From the video it looked pretty good. I have always found working with shellac to require a bit more care because it dries so fast that you easily get streaks etc. I like the idea of just using shellac and not messing with the BLO and smelly DNA.

    I suppose I could just try it, but I am curious if other folks do this...

    Thanks,

    -dan

  2. #2
    Iím not a turner ,but Iíve used a lot of shellac. Years ago
    everyone had a can of shellac....for years, before using it all. It has to be fresh. So people accepted
    the poly was better. Orange shellac is the most durable, but a lot of people donít like the color. Mixed and used properly all the shellacs are
    good. Iíve put several coats of orange on samples and kept them under water for days with no damage.

  3. #3
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    Peoria, IL
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    I think one of assumptions is that since it's on the internet, it's educational and possibly a great technique. I consider most everything on youtube as entertainment. Could be great techniques and methods, could be the first time the person tried that. I am positive that not everyone that posts a video is an expert. I have not had Mel's success with shellac and water. Water and alcohol (shellac solvent) do mix, it's called gin and tonic. But I've only used flakes a little, always bought it in a can. That could be my problem. I'm also not a fan of wax on turnings. Carnauba has been especially problematic around moisture. I packed up some bowls in a sprinkle after a show. Nearly all of them water spotted. I now use Renaissance Wax if any at all.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Mesa, Arizona
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    Dan -- I don't do it with shellac, but that's how I apply Deft brushing lacquer. I just wipe it on, allow it to soak in a bit, and then wipe off the excess -- all with the lathe slowly spinning. Then, I use a paper towel, with the speed up to burnish the surface. This allows me to put three coats on in less than an hour. (Three's usually sufficient.) The lacquer won't be fully cured, but it will be dry to the touch. If I want a gloss finish, which I usually don't, after the lacquer has fully cured, I buff using a compound designed for plastics -- NOT Tripoli or white diamond. Works very well.

    By the way, this was the finishing method I was taught by Dale Nish when I took a week-long class from him at Craft Supplies USA. It was a good finish for use with a class because it took so little time and produced a more than acceptable result. (Those are the reasons I continue to use it.) Having said that, it's NOT my go to finish for bowls and other utility items. While lacquer is a durable finish, with use, it will get scratched up. It's easy to repair a lacquer finish, but I prefer a walnut oil finish for such items. Walnut oil doesn't produce the same shine as does a lacquer, but, once cured, it is durable. Rather than scratch with use, it develops a 'patina' that I find attractive. If the patina starts to look a little dingy, a good cleaning, followed by another application of walnut oil, does the trick.
    Last edited by David Walser; 06-15-2021 at 4:31 PM.
    David Walser
    Mesa, Arizona

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Location
    Notasulga Alabama
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    52
    Zinsser shellac is my finish of choice if a "shine" is to be put on a piece. In the spray can it lasts for at least a year (no air). The first few coats will seal the grain,and subsequent 4-5 coats add the shine. I polish between coats with steel wool or even wet sand with 600 paper. The final polish is with auto body polish. For a matte finish I prefer BLO with a sealer of paraffin or bees wax melted in with a torch and polishedon the lathe with a cotton rag. I have a cutting board I made 40 years ago sealed with paraffin wax and it's good as new. A utility bowl finished this way should last for years. At craft shows, I put some water in the bowl to show the customer that water will "bead" in the bottom and not damage the finish. Carnuba is water-soluble. That's why it is used to coat candy and pharmaceuticals. Bad choice for a utility finish IMHO.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Madison, MS
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    Just curious. Wouldn't a paper towel rubbed on freshly applied shellac stick to the shellac as the bowl is turning? Seems to me it would be better to use a no-lint rag, but I may be wrong.

  7. #7
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    Sep 2018
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    Kensington, Maryland
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    Thanks for all the replies. I tend to use Walnut oil or Odies Odies oil and finish off the lathe. I do typically use Renaissance Wax, finding it works best for me after trying quite a few different wax formulas and products.

    For a high gloss shine I use eeeUltrashine followed by Shellawax Cream. This is done on the lathe. I think the Ubeaut products are really good. I’ve also had good results with wiping on slightly thinned Varathane water based poly when I want a “cooler” (not warm) hue. These are finishes that work best for me, having tried many. My only real attempt with shellac on turned projects was airbrushing shellac on a small bowl. I had mixed up the shellac from flakes. It worked fine but was tedious, and the finish needed polishing to look good. Fortunately I had used a recess on the bowl and so I could remount it for polishing.

    Going back to my original post I’m going to try this simple technique, especially given Richard's post, and see how it works.
    Last edited by Dan Gaylin; 06-17-2021 at 10:24 AM.

  8. #8
    The book I got my shellac info from is ďShellac Itís Origins and UsesĒ. Found it in a local library, there is one on line for $100. Shellac was
    used in coatings for wooden ships.

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