Garnetlac revisited

danmart77

Dan
Corporate Member
More than any other question, I repeat over the phone or to visiting woodworkers that just saying shellac is like telling me you want to varnish something. You do need to be more specific to achieve what you want.

In the past I have encouraged other woodworkers to give any of the shellac finishes a try. Most stop in isle 17 at one of the big box stores and buy a quart can of orange shellac(Amber) or the clear variety. Some get lucky and find the sealer which is better than either of the first two products. All premixed with a limited shelf life and a somewhat questionable production date. Kind of like searching for the date a used tire was made.

This is a discussion about a finish for inside use. Not outside.

Now that we are going to put the object indoors settled, there are 5 different shellac flakes in my drawer as I consider how to explain this in simple terms.

A couple suggestions(I have said rules in the past and started a riot):
1. Use flakes. After 38 years of comparing the canned shellac to the flakes-- it is not the same. The stuff in the can is the Honda Civic and the flakes are closer to the Acura. They both use alcohol but that's where it ends for me. Added: the can stuff does contain wax for what reason I will never know.

2. You can make the wood you are building with look different depending on what "shellac" you choose to apply. There are several ways you can buy a sampler pack and try the different flakes and compare the results. Super blonde flakes do not look like Garnet on the same wood.

3. Shellac flakes have a very long shelf life. When you buy them they are dated and you can do your own "acid test" when you mix them up. I put my flakes in an old coffee bean grinder and make a powder. All I do is cover the entire dust pile with alcohol and wait 2 hours. If it is a clump of goo that I can not shake up easily, the flakes are too old.

The saddest story I have heard connected with shellac was done by my friend. He ignored my guidance and applied a commercial shellac from a can and covered the entire piece. He went back and put 2 coats of "protection" with Waterlox. Not a bad idea till it peeled off from the wax in the shellac. Instead of admitting he was a bonehead, he tells people till his last breath that shellac is junk. Well he uses a different expression.
184950
184951


I am working on a chair that will have curly maple legs. Notice the difference between the 2 legs and the stretcher? The legs have a deeper color that I like. No there is no die here. The legs are 2 coats of Garnet and the stretcher is orange shellac.

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I am making another small shaker style table again. This time in walnut. To make a point again, shellac is not all the same. Garnet does not impart the same darkness that Super blonde shellac does on walnut or any other wood. This is one coat of the finish applied to the legs above for illustration purposes.

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The cherry table above was full of surprises. Lots of color variation so I chose to just go with it.

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This table top is 2 coats of super blonde followed with some varnish.


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The table top was sealed with super blonde shellac and then some water-based varnish. My grandson is rough on table tops and it was headed for his room. The grandkids think nothing of putting gatorade on it for the evening when they stay at the house. You have to plan.

Hope this helps. If you have questions I'll try to answer them.

Till then
 

TENdriver

TENdriver
User
Dan, Posts like this make me wonder if we weren’t separated at birth!

All the more troubling when I consider you not only got all the talent, but probably the “rich” parents too. :p



All kidding aside, I have this table top that is strikingly similar to yours.

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My knowns are no aniline or blonde but definitely garnet with a warm color protective top coat.

My undecided is, do I first force a ton of BLO into the grain (then top with the shellac) to enhance the curl and chatoyance or will the oil just end up muddying more than enhancing?
 

danmart77

Dan
Corporate Member
My knowns are no aniline or blonde but definitely garnet with a warm color protective top coat.

My undecided is, do I first force a ton of BLO into the grain (then top with the shellac) to enhance the curl and chatoyance or will the oil just end up muddying more than enhancing? TD


OK to give you a little info to consider on the finish schedule. Sometimes I want warm and soft and other times especially when doing work for others I have to go cold. So warm and soft or cold I guess.

The amber tones of orange and garnet have been in my finishing schedule for so long for a number of reasons. Mostly the freedom to adapt and the ability to wipe it off and start over has always been a big deal and all the positives of not cleaning brushes after each use and the ability to color the finish are just couple.

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On the other side is the Cold lovers. For the lacquer lovers I make no argument: lacquer is colder than any alcohol solvent finish .. but not enough to breath nitro-c if you don't have to do it. If you have a booth and you made the serious investment lacquer is the synthetic equivalent of shellac with some extras.

I have built 9 tables like the one below. All of the tables had the same simple maple curly veneer applied to a surface that was flat and useable for 400 bucks. The table surface is orange shellac with a top coat of water-based poly for toughness and endurance. Mind you I finish outside for the most part.

The chair and table went out the door for 700 dollars done.

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If you consider BLO to seal the surface of curly maple, and then you seal it again with shellac you will not get the clarity of the shellac to show the curly as well. This is a good finish you are considering but there are faults.

Long ago TD, finishers used wine and other alcohol to breakdown Seedlac. Today this is like pulling up to the gas pump and asking for the 82 octane fuel. I had to use Seedlac in my earlier life to build in a period. No more. The stuff is the "bottom of the barrel" finish material.

I am not sure where you want to go with your curly here: warm or cold. I do know that you will be very pleased to know that one of the variants will get you there without the BLO.

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Here is a rifle built 20 years ago. In the most insane schedule I chose Nitric Acid with iron filings from a car repair shop here in Durham. The original was built by the late Gary Brumfield from CW. I just could not stop thinking about this rifle finish. Today I can replicate this with little effort by using dyes. If you are in the Durham area stop in.. I have a couple of secrets.

later
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
Dan,

Can you comment on shellac durability? I have recently started to use it, most often for the inside of drawers but sometimes on the outside. I am using it right now on a bathroom vanity, for the oak front and the drawers (the inside is oak plywood finished before cutting to size with oil based poly). I keep a brush in alcohol so I can just take it out, wipe it on a paper towel, and apply another coat. Very convenient. But I get worried that I may regret not using poly for the top coats. I may still put some oil based poly on top.

I like the amber tint of orange, I have not tried garnett. Nor have I tried starting with flakes. I haven not had any problem with the material from the cans. I have used most of a gallon can and a few quart cans so far. But I want the amber tint on oak, and probably on walnut if I use it again. But not on maple and probably not on cherry. In my opinion, it looks better on some woods than it does on others.

My other favorite finish is Resisthane which I spray. I have not sprayed shellac because of the greater cleanup requirement.

Jim
 

KenOfCary

Board of Directors, Treasurer
Ken
Staff member
Corporate Member
Dan, can you provide your source of shellac flakes again. I've written it down several times, but can't seem to find it now. I plan to use shellac more often in the future but have mostly used it for inside drawers to avoid trapping oil based smell (Varnish Oil being my current favorite finish) inside them. I've had some trouble with runs while applying it but that is probably operator error - practice, practice and I'll get better.

I did order a couple of those brushes you mentioned in another post - they looked very good and a recommendation is always appreciated.
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
Dan suggested shellac flakes from this source. Both of mine came in 2017 with about a 2 year expiration date to check the suitability in 2019, but I haven't done that yet. They may be fine.

 

danmart77

Dan
Corporate Member
Dan,

Can you comment on shellac durability? I have recently started to use it, most often for the inside of drawers but sometimes on the outside. I am using it right now on a bathroom vanity, for the oak front and the drawers (the inside is oak plywood finished before cutting to size with oil based poly). I keep a brush in alcohol so I can just take it out, wipe it on a paper towel, and apply another coat. Very convenient. But I get worried that I may regret not using poly for the top coats. I may still put some oil based poly on top.

I like the amber tint of orange, I have not tried garnett. Nor have I tried starting with flakes. I haven not had any problem with the material from the cans. I have used most of a gallon can and a few quart cans so far. But I want the amber tint on oak, and probably on walnut if I use it again. But not on maple and probably not on cherry. In my opinion, it looks better on some woods than it does on others.

My other favorite finish is Resisthane which I spray. I have not sprayed shellac because of the greater cleanup requirement.

Jim
 

danmart77

Dan
Corporate Member
To Jim
If you used the stuff out of a can it has wax in it. Like I said earlier my friend put poly on the stuff from a can and he paid the price. It peeled 6 months later. You still have time to fix the problem as long as its just shellac on the surface. Buy the right stuff. If you are put off by mixing flakes find a dealer that sells the Sealer from Zinseer. That's all I can add.

Color concerns: if you like the amber tone of orange shellac on oak, you will like garnet and its warmth.


See Jeff's post 6 for the address to get the high quality shellac flakes from Vijay Velji.

Good luck
 

danmart77

Dan
Corporate Member
For those of you who have an interest in using shellac or you are just curious, get a copy of FWW 215. It was printed back in Dec of 2010. It is the most in-depth summary of current practices in harvesting the bug secretion and transforming it into a useful finishing product.

I am not a member of FWW any longer and I only have an electronic copy at this time or I would try to get it to you. See if you can get your hands on it and I think you might want to try some of the good stuff. In the end its about the same price and it has lots of benefits.
 

Bryan S

Bryan
Corporate Member
Dan your post could not have had better timing, I was about to mess up good. I would have swore that I read the Bulls Eye was dewaxed, and was going to use it as a seal and barrier coat on a table we are refinishing. After seeing your post and guess I should say debunking my not so thorough research I found that the answer was right in front of me the whole time. It says on the back of the can not to use as a seal coat under a polyurethane coating.

The misses fell in love with this table in a consignment shop and would have been royally P'd at me when that happened. Now I knew that mixing flakes is the better option but being that she wanted to stain it I was going to follow with gel stain and poly top coat. I thought the premixed would be good enough here. Disaster averted
 

ScottM

Scott
Staff member
Corporate Member
Anyone know where you can get sample size packs of flakes. I checked the site that was recommended but a 1/2 pounds sounds like a lot to buy to experiment.


Strike that question. I found the sample pack. BUT I do have another question. For those who mix do you use BORG dna or to you purchase special dna as this company sells?
 
Last edited:

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
BORG DNA is about 70% methanol which evaporates too quickly. I get Behlen Behkol for mixing shellac flakes ($9.95/qt, >75% ethanol at Klingspor or Woodcraft). The ethanol at ShellacFinishes is $16.95/qt-that's way too high.


Anyone know where you can get sample size packs of flakes. I checked the site that was recommended but a 1/2 pounds sounds like a lot to buy to experiment.


Strike that question. I found the sample pack. BUT I do have another question. For those who mix do you use BORG dna or to you purchase special dna as this company sells?
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
Zinsser makes 3 shellac mixtures in a can under the "Bulls Eye" name and 2 of them contain wax. The third is SealCoat (2lb cut, 100% dewaxed) and that's what you want for most uses. The SealCoat is no longer available at the BORGs but can be ordered from most woodworking stores.



I would have swore that I read the Bulls Eye was dewaxed, and was going to use it as a seal and barrier coat on a table we are refinishing.
 

danmart77

Dan
Corporate Member
https://www.popularwoodworking.com/projects/brushing-shellac/

https://www.shellac.net/dewaxed_shellac.html
Above site offers flakes and Zinsser Sealer not waxed shellac from a can. They are more expensive than Shellacfinishes but they offer good quality alcohol for those that want a better product.

I use the retarder in my mix when I have large areas to cover with a brush as opposed to the expensive DNA. Just a choice I guess but I doubt there are very many folks on this site that are doing a French Polish finish.
 

Hmerkle

Board of Directors, Vice President
Hank
Corporate Member
Dan,
I started a privet conversation with you and then thought - it might be better out here and in a new post?


In this post you started with "Now that we are going to put the object indoors settled"

What if you want to use Shellac outdoors?
Is it possible, recommended, or a "no-no"?
 

danmart77

Dan
Corporate Member
Dan,
I started a privet conversation with you and then thought - it might be better out here and in a new post?


In this post you started with "Now that we are going to put the object indoors settled"

What if you want to use Shellac outdoors?
Is it possible, recommended, or a "no-no"?
Needs to be topcoated with a varnish or other finish
 

drw

Donn
Corporate Member
I have enjoyed this thread, thanks Dan as well as others that have contributed. I have only had one experience with shellac and it left a very taste. In retrospect, I think I made several mistakes. I used de-waxed garnet flakes (purchased at Klingspor) and made a 1 pound cut (used DNA purchased from HD). I was attempting to finish a fairly large surface, but the mixture dried so rapidly the result was a very heavy uneven finish with fat edges where strokes overlapped. To say the result looked terrible is being kind...eventually I sanded the the stuff off and used wipe-on poly. I had sworn-off shellac, but after this post I may give it another go.
 

danmart77

Dan
Corporate Member
I have enjoyed this thread, thanks Dan as well as others that have contributed. I have only had one experience with shellac and it left a very taste. In retrospect, I think I made several mistakes. I used de-waxed garnet flakes (purchased at Klingspor) and made a 1 pound cut (used DNA purchased from HD). I was attempting to finish a fairly large surface, but the mixture dried so rapidly the result was a very heavy uneven finish with fat edges where strokes overlapped. To say the result looked terrible is being kind...eventually I sanded the the stuff off and used wipe-on poly. I had sworn-off shellac, but after this post I may give it another go.
Donn
Your first mistake was sanding it back. A simple rag soaked in Alcohol would have leveled the entire project in 10 minutes and not trace of shellac to bother the poly or what ever you wanted to substitute for the shellac.

In the future remember that shellac and lacquer are "reactivated" with the respective solvents. Unlike poly you are in for many hours of sanding and its best to do it alone so you don't offend anybody near by.

I have done lots of repairs on older furniture that had what I call a "crackled" finish after 50 years. On one repair a man and his wife came in together just upset because the caveman decided to sand down this very nice chair from a set. It was a nightmare. He had two others that he didn't touch so I tried a little alcohol in a hidden spot confirming it was shellac. I rubbed down one of the legs to a polish by reactivating the old shellac. The caveman told his wife he could do that with the rest of their furniture and the wife replied "over my dead body" you are. Peace and harmony a week later and a couple new coats on top.

Morale of the story: shellac is a whole lot easier to work with than most varnish solutions. For the poor soul who has to remove polyurethane down the road..
 
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danmart77

Dan
Corporate Member
Dan,

Can you comment on shellac durability? I have recently started to use it, most often for the inside of drawers but sometimes on the outside. I am using it right now on a bathroom vanity, for the oak front and the drawers (the inside is oak plywood finished before cutting to size with oil based poly). I keep a brush in alcohol so I can just take it out, wipe it on a paper towel, and apply another coat. Very convenient. But I get worried that I may regret not using poly for the top coats. I may still put some oil based poly on top.

I like the amber tint of orange, I have not tried garnett. Nor have I tried starting with flakes. I haven not had any problem with the material from the cans. I have used most of a gallon can and a few quart cans so far. But I want the amber tint on oak, and probably on walnut if I use it again. But not on maple and probably not on cherry. In my opinion, it looks better on some woods than it does on others.

My other favorite finish is Resisthane which I spray. I have not sprayed shellac because of the greater cleanup requirement.

Jim
Here is a photo of something I made recently that was coated in garnetlac. Its only a little darker than orange shellac but I can see the difference so that is what I choose.
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184988


Without knowing what type of shellac you used beware: poly over shellac with wax can be a load of trouble. So how can you put your poly on and get some rest? Recoat the faces with dewaxed shellac. Then you can put you poly or what ever type of coating on top with good adhesion.

Don't get lazy and ignore this simple advice. The process of sanding peeling poly is a nightmare.
 

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