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Rubbing out Shellac

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  • Rubbing out Shellac

    I have a couple of questions regarding rubbing out shellac that I'm hoping someone can help me with:

    1. While I know that rubbing out shellac (or any other finish) too soon can cause problems, does waiting too long to rub out shellac also cause problems? I just finished putting shellac on a carving yesterday, and likely won't be able to rub it out for 6-8 weeks. Any reason I should be concerned?

    2. This is a more general question: I took a wood finishing class focused on furniture, and the instructor recommended rubbing out shellac first with 1200 grit wet paper, and then with 0000 fine wool with wax on it. Any reason that this would not translate well to a carving in the round? While I believe courser grits can be used at the beginning, I am worried about cutting through the finish.

    For a bit of background, I used four coats of Zinsser SealCoat at about a 1.5lb cut. I've attached a photograph of the carving after its 4th coat.

    To the extent anyone has stylistic suggestions on rubbing out the finish of this carving, I'd love to hear those as well.



  • #2
    Final finishes on my carvings are my weakest areas. In general I feel that glossy finishes detract from a carving's appearance as wood, so I tend to use satin or matte finishes strictly for protection. This is especially true of figured wood, that is, wood with strong grain patterns. For carvings with fine details, I prefer wood with very little grain figure.


    • #3
      I use shellac on the NAF / wooden flutes that I make. About 7 coats are applied with a 600 grit light sanding and wipe down between coats to remove any bumps. Final padding is done with Rottenstone followed by Pumice Stone. Parafin Oil as the carrier applied with a cloth. Behlen products, no affiliation


      • #4
        I use the "dewaxed" Zinsser SealCoat on most of my projects, it has attributes that appeal to me. It is very fast drying, non-toxic when dry, plus it's my understanding dewaxed shellac can go over or under "any" finish. Over looked oily finger prints not a problem.

        Shellac dries very fast at warm temperatures. I personally don't wait much longer then 60 minutes between coats. I will venture to say from my experience waiting over night before rubbing would be plenty of time.

        If I'm not looking for a gloss finish or want to remove nibs in the finish I use Mirka flexible P1500 sanding pads in either instance.

        Good luck.