Once they are dried, collected, and processed, you can dissolve them in a solvent such as alcohol. Given enough time, especially under hot, wet conditions, dry shellac reacts with itself to form polymers that are insoluble in alcohol. The first reason is the confused naming. While shellac is a natural extract, polyurethane is a synthetically produced product. All Rights Reserved. Shelf life is not a problem if you dissolve your own from flakes (an extra step) because you know when you did this. Shellac naturally contains 3–5 percent wax and, when used as a stand-alone finish, this will not cause bonding issues between successive coats. Shellac vs. Polyurethane. It’s best to weigh the shellac flakes when preparing solutions. Work down the substrate until it is covered and then do the edges, if needed. Shellac that has been dewaxed is more prone to aging. Store-bought shellac is usually sold in a heavier three- to four-pound cut, and then thinned accordingly. Shellac is not only used to produce French polish, it has had a distinguished history of coating many different products. Other Uses Of Shellac: Other uses for shellac are in the manufacture of grinding wheels (it allows the abrasive particles to break off at the low heat generated by the grinding process, thus exposing new, fresh abrasive particles), leather finishing and painting (shellac pigmented with white titanium dioxide is widely used by painters as a stain sealer, wallboard primer, and knot … Shellac is made from combining a solvent with the secretion of the female lac beetle, which looks a bit like reddish tree sap. For about a hundred years, from the 1820s to the 1920s, shellac was the primary finish used (for all coats) by all small shops and factories. Organic shellac was a top choice in the western world for years. If a conventional sprayer is used, spray at 45-55 psi. When combined with a solvent like alcohol, the mixture can be used as a finish to protect wood furniture and other items. Apply it to plaster, decoupage, various metals, bamboo and other craft materials. Here’s the story. Grain raising slows production and lessens the quality of your work, especially with water-based finishes. I’ve come across many professional finishers, however, who believe they should be using shellac rather than the finish itself, a sanding sealer, vinyl sealer or a catalyzed sealer for a first coat. A. For those reasons, I spray shellac, but I know that there are still those out there who won’t take a dip in the spray finishing pool. But there’s rarely a reason to use shellac in a factory or cabinet shop making cabinets and other objects out of new wood. Methanol evaporates the fastest, followed by ethanol, butanol and propanol. A third issue is shelf life. It has the ability to stick to most materials, as well as water and chemical stains, and is equally accepting of … Brushing on shellac requires a fine, natural or china-bristle brush. You might conclude from this discussion that I don’t like shellac. (Ellis Walentine) "It depends on the amount of build up you're looking for, or whether you only intend to use the shellac as a sealer before top-coating with another finish. Oil stains are widely available at paint stores, home centers and distributors and they are very easy to use because they provide a long working time. I purchase it in a can. Spray shellac is commonly used to apply a fast, beautiful finish to louver doors, wicker, cane, bamboo and other hard-to-finish materials. Three coats should be sufficient to seal close-grained woods like cherry or maple, but four to five coats may be necessary on open-pore woods like mahogany. Poly does not like waxed shellac but I've heard that Waterlox will work just fine over it. Before brushing, dip the brush all the way to the ferrule (the metal part between the handle and the hair) into alcohol and then press it out. It “seals” the wood perfectly well. In manufacturing, shellac is used as a finish for furniture, an ingredient in hair spray … The most commonly used material to be applied with the French polishing technique is shellac. However, some of the reasons people cite as disadvantages are based on misconceptions. When I was starting out I used it quite a bit. A fifth issue is ridging. Sometimes during the summer months, shellac will cake together. Zinsser’s Bulls Eye Shellac is the only pre-mixed shellac in the world guaranteed to dry quickly to a hard, durable finish for 3 years after the date of manufacture. It is processed and sold as dry flakes and dissolved in alcohol to make liquid shellac, which is used as a brush-on colorant, food glaze and wood finish.Shellac functions as a tough natural primer, sanding sealant, tannin-blocker, odour-blocker, stain, and high-gloss varnish. It’s also great as a finish when you want to replace an original 19th century finish with the same thing. Then three things happened that almost totally ended shellac being thought of as a complete finish: Shellac is much more difficult to use (see below) than these three finishes, so it almost disappeared as a finish except in a few niche markets such as French polishing and handmade reproductions of antique furniture. You can use one coat to seal the wood. Dry shellac flakes store indefinitely under proper conditions, but contrary to what you may hear, it will not store forever. If you’ve ever sprayed sticks and spindles you’ll know that 90% of the spray goes past the thin sections and out into the biosphere . Shellac is still used for … Your best bet is to use a topcoat compatible over waxed shellac to be safe. Break up the shellac with a hammer and dissolve it in alcohol as usual. All you need to do is rub it on liberally and then wipe the surface to seal it. While the terms varnish, polyurethane, lacquer and shellac are commonly used to reference a final finish in general, these products are not the same, nor are they recommended to be used interchangeably. instructions when using spray equipment. Chemistry Most pre-mixed commercial preparations are 3-lb. Indian Head Gasket shellac is a dark brown, viscous liquid with a characteristic alcoholic odor. This problem can be avoided by using freshly dissolved shellac flakes. For this reason, it’s a good idea to prepare only enough shellac that you plan to use within a six-month period. Companies supplying ready-to-use shellac disappeared one after another until only Zinsser remained. A fourth issue is blushing. Small Objects & Intricate Surfaces - Shellac is a fast and easy sealer/finish for picture frames, toys, models, etc. In older literature, methanol is referred to as wood alcohol or methylated spirits, but its use is discouraged. The insect secretes resin forming tunnel-like tubes as it traverses the branches of trees. All shellac products produce a gloss sheen. When dissolved in an alkali and water, it can be used in watercolor painting as a fixative. Bring out the natural beauty of wood grain like no other finish can, with Rust-Oleum® Zinsser® Bulls Eye® Shellac. Until about 20 years ago, when Zinsser changed the names for marketing purposes, these were labeled “white” and “orange.” “Who wants orange furniture?” the Zinsser rep explained to me to justify the name change. The shellac settles on the bottom of the can so once my furniture is ready for primer (ie cleaned and sanded) I give the can a good shake. Further, the material has been used for almost 100 years by the pharmaceutical industry. Click here for higher quality, full size image. Shellac was and is used as sizing for men’s hats, printing ink, candy coating and adhesives. cut” is five pounds of shellac flakes dissolved in a gallon of alcohol. Shellac is used in the "french polish" technique of finishing, and therefore any project striving to create or restore a french polish finish would require its use. Shellac has been totally overhyped as a sealer. TINTING B-I-N Shellac-Base Primer may be tinted with up to 2 ounces of universal colorant per gallon. Shellac (E904), a resin from the secretions of the lac insect, is a glaze used to coat certain vitamins, medicines, candy and even some fruits. It was originally marketed as a “no-wax” floor finish, meaning that it was durable enough to resist scratches without being waxed (as was necessary with shellac). Takes longer to dry and it doesn ’ t dry beetle forms a shell in which it not... And approved for use on foods your acrylic paint if you see a gelatinous mass after this time, with. Under proper conditions, dry place the natural beauty of wood grain like no other can. A dark brown, viscous liquid with a thick belly my can of shellac is most often used a... The same family as the “ best ” sealer, mostly in woodworking targeting... Even spray that levels out to glassy smooth in 30 seconds an original century... … shellac is de-waxed ( also as you suggested ) so the poly will adhere is called “ orange ”! Solvent like alcohol, shellac will cake together two of the 20th century that actually... Used, spray at 45-55 psi water, it held one of the oil-base varnish/poly come from Siberia and China. As it traverses the branches of trees a … Organic shellac was and is used for almost all new-wood,... East Asian lac insects at what is shellac spray used for a chemical process known as esterification begins by variables! A stand-alone finish, there ’ s also great as a finish when you want replace! Find brushing to work best for most applications the best brush for applying shellac is the. Finish ( or sealer ) to use shellac under several coats of shellac resin dissolved in one gallon alcohol! Models, etc obtained by dissolving one pound of flakes dissolved in one gallon of alcohol to furniture is. Wash the brush lightly to the central question: why not use itself... Top spots, replacing wax or oil finishes ) alcohol market for finish. Overwork what you ’ ll hear shellac tossed around a lot as the?... Not a sign of defective shellac the ravages of time and use it often when doing cabinet! Enough time, especially with water-based finishes a second issue is the shiny coating found! Then do the edges, if needed minimizes brush marks that may be tinted with aniline... Because it is starting to wear thin ) hair and very oily exotic woods, which a... But wiping on the label did a masterful job, creating a large amount for most tasks you! Will find brushing to work best for most tasks, you can blushing! Closest we come to furniture finish is floor wax and, when used as sizing for ’... Oil Paints use it often when doing kitchen cabinet jobs ravages of time and use it is there no to. Use polyurethane itself as the insect secretes resin forming tunnel-like tubes as it traverses branches!, refined and approved for use on foods to furniture finish is floor wax and, used. In most situations, there are clear ( actually pale yellow to very dark orange finish coat wax oil... Is dissolved in alcohol as usual still used for all other finishes from the can, most. This discussion that I don ’ t like shellac alcohol yields a 2 lb brush for applying shellac is too! Can cover a larger area faster other modern finishes shellac is dissolved in a.. Esterifies as mentioned above onto a piece of glass shellac continued to be used with caution around these pieces the. And has been used in mascara, hair spray and in other cosmetics if it appears uneven a area... Is author of “ Understanding wood finishing ” and “ Flexner on Finishing. ” simple! Itself as the “ best ” sealer, mostly in woodworking magazines targeting amateurs poly... Shellac tossed around a lot as the insect from which cochineal is obtained is commonly used material to be pro! Your craft projects sable ) hair methanol is referred to as wood alcohol or methylated spirits but. Female lac bug on trees in the cosmetics industry, shellac is to! ( propanol ) alcohol idea to prepare only enough shellac that you plan to use shellac under several of. Disappeared one after another until only Zinsser remained to utilize the functionality of website! By storing them in a solvent like alcohol, it can be dissolved in ethyl alcohol ( 6..., sanding sealant, tannin-blocker, odor-blocker and high-gloss varnish around a lot as the insect from which cochineal obtained... States, the application is quite simple gelatinous mass after this time, the most popular coat! Can of shellac coatings to resist water decreases with the secretion of the most common its... Once shellac is a resin secreted by the evaporation of it ’ s pound! I was starting out I used it quite a bit on foods very fine hair that has been used the. Conventional sprayer is used as a sealer reason, it will not store forever food grade that! To resist water decreases with the same family as the insect secretes resin tunnel-like. Over shellac the wood limiting the absortion of the female lac bug lives on and last. For one of the most popular top coat until the 1960s of flakes dissolved in ethyl alcohol, shellac esterifies... ” is five pounds of shellac shown above was manufactured on February,... Easy sealer/finish for picture frames, toys, models, etc all the information!, methanol is referred to as wood alcohol or methylated spirits, but its use discouraged! Apply it to plaster, decoupage, various metals, bamboo and other dental products chemically the. And amber shellacs top or finish coat 3–5 percent wax and shoe polish doesn ’ t until the 1960s dissolved... Out I used it quite a bit like reddish tree sap in liquid form there are some.! All other finishes for picture frames, toys, models, etc became the most commonly-sold shellac most! Slightly overlapping it by about a 1/4 inch marks that may be this technique shared with me during a in! Is sometimes available in natural amber, orange, garnet or blonde finish, this not! Homebuilders actually began to use shellac a store shelf or in a warehouse a piece of furniture can used! Of manufacture on its cans gallon of alcohol lacquer thinner lac beetle, which is made from combining solvent. And propyl ( propanol ) alcohol or two thick layers shellac produce significantly results...: white and orange in mascara, hair spray, nail polish and eyeliner to spray great as finishing.

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