chapeleastland

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  • Woodworking Interests
    general woodworking
  1. Shellac can go bad. Alcohol is the solvent, but it attracts water. An opened can begins to attract water. Canned shellac, waxed or unwaxed, should be used within six months of opening. Water and shellac don't work. I know someone will chime in and say they've got a can from 1984 that they still use, but I wouldn't trust them or the can of shellac. I stopped using canned shellac years ago and now make fresh shellac using dewaxed flakes whenever I want it. I always use a 1 lb cut and never have problems as it's fresh and I can make just what I need per project.
  2. The older I get the less I'm inclined to go for stains and dyes on just about anything. I've never been a fan of high gloss top coats as it's as artificial as an aluminum Christmas tree. For the past 30 years, I use shellac- nowadays it's flake shellac with garnet, ruby, amber or blond undertones always in a one pound cut. It's easy to apply several coats at one time as it drys so fast. An hour later I can lightly sand with 320 paper, and apply another round. The shellac seals well, allows the natural wood to show, and then is an excellent undercoat for varnish or oil. My work is inviting to touch and doesn't have the appearance of a cheap motel nightstand sprayed with a gloss finish. The way so many things are finished today, it might as well be pasteboard because the wood has become secondary to the shiny, but fake finish. I know some people like that look, and more power to them, but it's not my cup of tea as I find it very sterile. That said, Charles Neil is an excellent craftsman and a good teacher though I wish I could condense him down to the essentials in his presentations as a thirty-minute video has at most about ten minutes of meat.