Finishing with Shellac | Paul Sellers

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Finishing with Shellac | Paul Sellers

I’m going to finish a project here with shellac three coats of shellac and I’m going to wax it out with furniture polish I just want to show you what the processes are if you bought a pre-mixed cut of French polish then it will have maybe a three pound cut usually it’ll just say French polish this is a bleached French polish so it’s almost as clear as you can get for the first coat you want to cut it a little bit I’m going to go two-thirds of this container and then I’m going to add some denatured alcohol it may be coloured depending where you are in the world so I’m adding an extra third and that’s it so this is now ready for me to apply the first coat the reason we do this is because this is a cut coat it’s meant to go on and release the is meant to go on and it’s meant to dry quickly it’s meant to raise the fur in the fibers of the wood called tooth and then we can Sand that first coat down it sounds very quickly and this is my project this is a stool that I just made from cherry I’m applying this with a one-inch brush just a hate brush what we call a hate brush you can start anywhere you want usually we do the edges first especially on the end grain the finish gets absorbed very quickly in the end grain so I’m going to come up here don’t worry about runs at this stage because this coat is really very forgiving and this finish is actually a very forgiving finish the grain just pops off at this point this is my left handed mold here straight up to the top all the way up continuous strokes wet too wet edge all the way through don’t worry too much don’t worry about any brush marks there will not be any brush marks because this is so fluid so viscous it’s just going to dissipate throughout the whole you can go across the grain with this coat if you want so I’m going to catch this end grain again here onto here the awkward area I’m going to come up this way and then I’m going to pull the strokes along or with the grain here like this right into the corner picking up any excess quantity of fluid or finish that I’ve got on there I’m going to come up here and catch that midsection there if it starts to run like there because I’ve just had a fresh fill of my brush don’t worry about it because you can go back and catch that simple this is the point where we find all the flaws any flaws in our work see this how this is already dried in here i have to go back in now on this and just give it another coat because it’s end grain that first coat will seal this dries very quickly very rapidly and this last bit here I’m going to leave the edge here after this that’s just sealing that end I’m going to put this second coat on here I keep filling that as I go around the project so do the same on this end here this is a very simple normally I would catch that front edge first but because I can’t see it I’m going to work this way also so it’s wet to wet every time here like this right into the corner up catch this like this so the endgrain just it just wicks it right into those long straws we call cells that just get sucked right in up very quick very simple shellac is so easy it’s very forgiving it’s very easy to repair re coat it if you need to usually something like this a step stool or a sitting still like this probably will not need any additional work for years but it’s very easy to just recoat go straight over the top what this finish does it dissolves every previous coat so every

time you apply a coat what seems to be three coats actually is one coat because it’s dissolving each coat it’s not a layer on a layer like say polyurethane or something like that or even oil oil doesn’t dissolve itself there I’m going to catch the end grain on the end here just to help that to seal I’m not worried about the other side on the top side at this stage then I’m going to do the inside inside here so I’m doing the this is dry at this end so I’m holding this with my left hand and it’s already dried now as I go through the next coats I probably will not will not dry and not hold it there because the more coats you put on the more sticky the surfaces get takes a little bit longer to dry go in this midsection see I catch the ends like this and then I pull the long stroke into the wet edge like that make sure you catch any runs but don’t worry too much as I said this is a very forgiving finish come up this side come up the side then work from that wet edge towards the middle here work from this wet edge here a full brushstroke a full brush will that transfer a lot of fluid at this level when it’s so thin when you get to the thicker coats it’ll it will be a little bit heavier and you’ll feel a little bit more drag on your brush I’m going to come in here now long stroke I can apply plenty of fluid on here this will be on the underside in a minute but it’s lying flat already this dries so fast while I’m here I’m going to catch this long edge here cross my joint here catch this one end grain again here this will be underneath so it’s not really an issue get a continuous stroke all the way through like this it just make it nice and shellac builds up very fast so I will leave this for 20 minutes half an hour give it time to really evaporate the denatured alcohol to evaporate from the shellac and then I’ll just sand it out with 240 grit paper a worn suit 240 grit at that and I’ll be ready for the next coat you can see how quickly this goes no cooling this is cherry so this cherry is one of the wonderful things about cherry is that it goes a rich honey color after about three months in the sunlight in a house somewhere in a sunny room a warm room it’ll change color to this beautiful rich honey color that’s the beauty of cherry so I don’t need to stay in it its own natural color I’m going to go on this one surface on this side why am i under coating the underside because it reduces the amount of ingress of moisture equally from both sides if I do both sides one thing I haven’t quite done I haven’t signed it yet so I’m going to I should have signed this I’m going to sign it here now Paul Sellers 2015 and then I’m going to shellac right over the top of that signature and then it’s there sealed in forever that’s my signature work done oops a little bit too much finish on there bit careless Paul so you can go across the grain you don’t really need to go across the grain with this finish so much like you would with polyurethane you might go in both

directions to even out the finish because this is a very different finish to the urethanes very easy see how that run down there too much on my brush but when I go down here I just pull it up from the bottom it doesn’t glob up like some of the other finishes do very lovely finish to apply and you can apply this first coat you could do it with just a pad you can make a cotton pad from an old t-shirt something like that you could do it with the padded it’s just fine to do that perfectly acceptable standard method for a French polishing see so that’s my first coat I just have to do the top this is the biggest area of all so I’ve got my brush I’m filling my brush here then I come from the center elongate my stroke from the middle and work either side wet edge to wet edge the whole way through so I’m already about a fifth of the width of the stool just with one loaded brush so again into the middle long brush long strokes all the way to the edge continuous all the way off to the edge here I’m taking it off the edge and then I’m going to check to make sure I don’t have any runs can you see this little run there I’m going to check that in a second I’m not going to worry I can go right over everything I’ve done just to elongate the strokes and even out the finish and I’m going to check the end here this is my second coat on this end I’m going to check the end on the under bearer too so here I’m going here I’m going here pull a stroke down here and then just leave this alone now you’d have to do any more back onto my top long strokes again from the middle and then off the edge here off the edge here shellac is a wonderful beautiful finish to one thing it will not stand and that’s some spirit alcohol beer wine is fine but spirit alcohol whiskey gin things like that it will not tolerate that so if you spill it on this finish it will damage the finish all you do is sand it out apply another coat or two just like this and that’s that finish check the ends make sure you don’t have any build-up on the ends make sure there’s no buildup on here and no buildup down here and that’s that first coat done 20 minutes half an hour we go in with a second coat we have to sand it down I’ll show you how to do that this is my step after you’ve put the first coat of sanding sealer or primer coat shellac on you go with some worn sandpaper just like this this is 240 grit but it’s well worn I’ve already sanded down most of this stool now I’m just going with the grain not to cross the grain because that can put stretch marks in the surface that will show going with the grain means the scratches go with the grain and because the grain is this way and the scratches are this way they don’t show up there are scratches there but they just don’t show so we’re going this way I’ve done the edges now I didn’t do this one I’ve done these edges here and so that’s ready for my next coat a little bit of pick up here just to make sure there’s no dust on here very forgiving finish if you have picked any up usually it will sand out so what we’re going to do is just set this aside for one second and we’re going to take that same brush and we’re going to top this up now with just a full shellac mix this is a three pound cut you could go with two which is fine all it means it’s just going to be a thinner coat soak your brush get that ready I’m going to do the underside this needs to be clean you don’t want to pick up too many contaminants it just means more work for you so what we’re going to do is we’re going to do the edge on this side first just like this so I pull and pull this is a little bit thicker than before I’m going much more carefully now

I’m laying this this finish on the surface more carefully I’m going to catch this full edge here try and get a continuous brushstroke here if I carry on it’ll grab the edge there and I’ll get a run that I don’t want so here I’m using my brush now feathering in when I cross over that’s all I’m going to do to that one I can catch this edge while I’m here so again here going from this wet edge here along from here just so the tip of my brush catches the edge in that way I won’t get runs and then into here and that’s that part done so I leave this along now stand it up I’m going to do the underside of the arch here see a continuous brushstroke and one brushstroke back and then leave it because you’ve got a previous coat on now you don’t want to be pulling on these coats too much I am doing the underside here just to seal the ends because that’s who I am and then I can go here I can pick up this edge I’m not going to go on this full edge this time because I’m going to be working on this end showing you how we get round so a lot more cautious now careful to make my brush strokes are going in the right direction onto this lip here down here and up here from the edge of here not going on that end yet I’m coming in this face here from the corner so the tip of my brush I’ll show you in a second so I pull all those strokes all the way through what’s now so I’m loading my brush not too much on the brush into the corner and pull working up in one inch increments the thickness of my brush or the width of my brush like that same onto this face here this underside edge into the corner and pull in and pull flip my brush around for more product just I can’t see what I’m doing there but it looks great so perfectly happy same on this one into the corner pull pull pull very fast no messing no rubbing no scrubbing we’re going up the midsection and working from there towards my outside and I’m not pulling down watch what happens can you see how it builds up here so I pull up from the bottom and off up and off up and off now this is looking much fuller it’s actually getting a shine at this level so it’s not soaking in that previous seal occult did its job look at that dark streak there, beautiful that knot on the edge the wild grain this is cherry this is chariot it’s very burst I’m going to leave that now I’m not going to mess around with it anymore then I have to leave that now work on the inside and that’s how we work across the whole project so when I get to the other side we’ll get back together and show you what we do next I’m on the second coat I’ve done the main body I’m going to start here work from the middle here and I’m going to work to that outside edge so I’m actually off-centered going out from this side I’m trying to put as full a coat as I can without dragging it out so a full coat on a full brush pulling pulling because remember this coat is dissolving that first coat so I’m pulling now I’ve got wet edges I’m going to catch here catch here just catch the feather edge here make sure we’re not running down these faces here this time because we really don’t what runs or thick corner so I’m going to the wet edge here now working and or from middle to end like this if you’re using a full brush then you’re going to leave a little bit extra residue on here in this case what you do when you load your brush you tap just the side of the pot like this and that will give you a half brush full so I’ve got less coats on now

I’m coming towards this outside edge on this side then I’m going to leave this for an hour let this fully cure which is different than drying drying is where the surface dries and you can actually touch it and pick it up but I want this to cure all the way through that coat and so here let the brush have time to leave its trace of finish on the surface and then I I ball this towards the light here I’ve got lights it’s wonderful but normally you may not have lights so find somewhere I’m looking at the surface to see how it’s filling and it’s filling very nice day I think this could be my second to the last coat the next coat could be full enough I don’t know sometimes you apply five coats it it might vary on the thickness of your finish but I’m going to leave this now and get back to you with the next coat I’m almost finished with the third coat and the important thing here is to remember how quickly you have to move with this shellac because it is dissolving that coat so watch here on this under arch here this one’s filling up nicely I feel contempt that that is going to probably be my final coat but watch what happens here I go on this and all the way into the arc and off if I get a continuous movement which I did I’m going to leave it at that I’ve already done the inside no runs down this side this side I’m going to do next I’m going to do my edges again here first so here down up and off no fussing around with this I want to leave the finish alone same on here so inside here I’m going to come here pull pull pull just like this and this is shellac and just leave it if this was polyurethane or something like that I could take a lot more I could go back in and brush out my strokes see I don’t even go across the grain with the shellac which you probably would do you normally go across this way and then back this way but I don’t want to do that I don’t need to do it with shellac it’s all to do with the viscosity of the material I’m working with that decides that factor for me so into the corner pull pull pull pull those are nice and even catch any thick spots here I’m going from this and up up and off up and off this is really filling out very nicely and by filling out I’m going to show you that what I mean by that in a minute so just catch the ends make sure you don’t get any runs did I do here I’m not sure see I turn my brush round like this because the fluid the finish is going through the bristles when I apply this side the finish goes to the other side so I turn my brush fairly consistently as I’m working that transfers the finish from the inside to the outside I didn’t get this edge so I’m going to get I’m going to get the edge I may have done it and I don’t remember but it doesn’t look as though I did so up here and up here no no laboring that’s that so now I flip it over I do the top I’m going to leave this just for a few minutes to dry then I’ll flip it over and I’ll do the top I think by now on these ends and different parts that we’ve got the full three coats on or we’ve got the base coat you know the sanding sealer coat then we apply the coat and then we apply the second coat it’s already looking full now you might ask the question what do you mean by full well I’m looking for how the surface floods when the light is reflected against it and this band of wood here was more dense grained than this one so this one absorbed more of the finish whereas this one is already looking fairly solid in fact at this stage I would say I could probably just buff this out with steel wool and then apply some wax and it would be perfectly good but what I want to show is the contrast between this surface and this surface I don’t know if you can see that but I think it will help if you can see how the light reflects off the wall the more solid color so here you can see how the light is reflecting that means the coat is fairly full and the surface is reflecting can you see this band here is not is not reflecting the material it’s not reflecting the surface so this has

to have another coat to bring it up to a par with this that doesn’t mean that this will look glossy er than this ultimately they will look exactly even across the coast this is my last coat so again first I’m going to go in on the edge here with a coat careful not to go across the perpendicular column not too much finish on your brush but enough to get a continuous stroke I have a continuous stroke all the way through I think yep there it goes same on this side and the same on the ends continuous stroke all the way through I go back because that will catch any misses this is the end so the end this is already very full it’s completely shiny that’s what I want with this particular finish if I wanted a different finish a less shiny finish I would do something differently now it’s the top so I’m going to start on this far side this time and pull my stroke I want to show you I don’t stop go all the way through with a continuous stroke there’s my wet edge I’m dipping again I want a fairly full brush from the center to the outer edge get that solid look in the surface so I’m using the light here to look into the surface to make sure I don’t leave any flat spots any misses so here just use the tip of the brush on the edge so I’m going through the edge here but then I come back with the tip of the brush just to feather out those strokes always looking at the light reflection and the surface this is so much more dense this section of the wood here so it will reflect differently but once I build up sufficient Coat see here I’m just using the feather edge of the brush now I mean shellac you can spray it it makes a very nice surface almost as good as French polish I wouldn’t say it’s as good but it’s almost as good this is very nice this I love this way this I like the brushed finish – I love it so I’m looking for see there I just catch a little bit where it’s not quite reflecting a full coat remember full coat here so I should have probably topped up my finish a little bit more in my container I think I just have enough to get through to the end off the end different method if you were French polishing this you could French polish it would be very easy to French polish because it’s such a large surface but this is a stool and it’s going to be perfect for any situation in a home or in a workshop this will probably stay in the workshop to support doors long doors in the vise things like that there we are so just catch the edges just to make sure no treacly runs and that’s that so now when I look at the surface now it definitely looks fuller on here and it’s more of a continuous surface there can you see it still has a little bit I have to make a decision but I think that’s pretty close to the surface that I want so all I need to do is leave that to dry two or three hours leave it overnight let it fully cure and then we apply some wax steel wool this we use steel well why do we use steel wool, we use steel wool because it’s very different than a brace if it cuts the surface and slices through it very differently long grain strands of steel wool slices through the surface gives it a super super cut surface and then we’re going with the wax and that’s what

finishes the whole project very nice we’re going to use long strands of Steel Wallis’s four or four zero steel wool very fine just go along the grain I’ve already done the on the side this is basically de nipping really it’s just taking off any nipping any little pinpricks of surface defects in there you don’t need very much for this you bet you the last thing you want is to cut through the surface too much and this will take off any high spots if there was a brush hair left in there it will cut right through it I don’t need any more than this it feels a little bit rough there but what happens when you have de nibbed and taken that off catch the dust I’m going to apply some wax polish this is fairly soft wax polish I don’t need very much of this I’m going to use the same steel wool just to apply it the reason I’m using the steel wool is it it seems to more evenly distribute the wax on the surface over the surface catch the edges now this is looking very nice not only is it looking nice it feels nice and that’s because it is nice my cloth is soft cloth just buff it out if you happen to have one of these very nice shoeshine brushes this is so nice this is looking so even in here all the surface nice and solid I’ve got a solid sheen up the whole surface if you do have one of these this is just the Kiwi brush this is the best I know of this has horse hair in here 100% horse hair made in Israel I don’t know if they all have to be made in Israel but this is a super nice brush just buff it buff it buff it buff it and that’s it that’s my finish that’s all I’m going to do to this in six months time if this is in my house I my re wax it and it’s a polish but that is a wonderful wonderful piece of furniture I did enjoy making this piece I’m so glad I was able to finish it this way I’m so glad you got to see the finished piece