Monday, June 17, 2013

Shellac by any other name: Zinsser Seal Coat

   Since my shop is a hobby shop I find myself moving toward more hand tool work and toward more traditional wood finishes.

   Using hand tools is more about quiet than anything else and appropriate to small projects on flexible time lines.  I can do many things with couple of hand saws that I can do with a band saw, just not as quickly.

   Older style finishes are also slower, generally.  I use a home made wipe on finish that is oil. paint thinner (turpentine) and varnish for many projects.  I got the idea from Tom at so I call it Tom's Finish.  A finish that I have  been using for quite a few years that is not slow, but.....very fast,  is shellac.  Shellac is a natural product and plays nicely with either oil or water based finish and so I have been using it as a pour/sanding filler for a long time regardless of what I plan to put on top.

Zinsser Z00861 Sanding Sealer Sealcoat 3.7L

   Shellac is also at the heart of "French Polish", a very classic, warn rich finish that was popular with wood turners and furniture makers for many generations. 

    This finishes can demand more time and technique  than modern plastic finishes but the results when you have the time is ageless, and repairable.  In the last couple of years I have been asked to repair damaged furniture or recently a wooden bowl and in each case the finishes were old style and so I was able to make a nearly invisible  repair.  

   The shellac can also be sprayed over paint to give it a glossy finish without working about lifting the finish, since paint is either water or oil based and shellac is alcohol based.  As long as the paint is totally dry the shellac goes over it fine.

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