How to Finish Wood With Shellac

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How to Finish Wood With Shellac. Shellac is a natural resin produced by a insect which lives in trees, mainly in India. It has been used for centuries to finish wood by dissolving it in denatured alcohol and then painting on like other finishes. Shellac is natural and non-toxic and doesn't produce a lot of unpleasant fumes. Finishing wood with shellac is accomplished by following these basic procedures.

Things You'll Need

  • Shellac
  • Paint brush
  • Sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Clean, lint-free cloths
  • Paste wax
  • Steel wool
  • Buy some shellac. There are two sorts: white and orange. White is used for light woods. Orange is used for darker woods. You can buy it pre-mixed or in flakes you mix with denatured alcohol. Pre-mixed is definitely easier if you're a beginner.

  • Make sure the wood you are going to finish is sanded, clean and free of dust. Clean it with a tack cloth.

  • Use a 2- or 3-inch brush to apply the shellac following the wood grain in long, smooth strokes.

  • Wipe the wood following the grain with a clean, lint-free cloth dipped in a little shellac. Do this after you've brushed on the shellac. Stop when the wood is evenly coated and you've removed any brush strokes.

  • Allow the finish to dry for 4 hours and then lightly sand the wood with fine sandpaper. Clean the wood with a tack cloth.

  • Finish the wood again. Keep doing coats of finish until you get a look you like. You'll have to finish it at least 4 or 5 times. Let the final coat of shellac harden for 48 hours.

  • Rub the wood along the grain with "0000" steel wool until the gloss is removed. Wait 48 hours, remove any dust with a tack cloth, and buff the wood with a paste wax and a clean, lint-free cloth.

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