Here Is the Proof

I mentioned earlier that shellac will harden (fully cure) within 10-13 days before the product can be shipped. Some expressed scepticism, whilst others shrugged it off as mere fictitious jargon, but here is the proof.

Whilst this is thankfully only a sample piece for an upcoming project, I am grateful it happened so I can help you not make the mistake I did so long ago. You may wonder what caused this, well, I placed it in my vice not clamping hard at all to plane the edges. I wanted to figure out just how to French polish small pieces as I intend to do so on small jewellery boxes.

Why shellac when there are so many cheaper and faster alternatives? Because no other finish in my opinion can give me the clarity, depth and glass like finish that shellac can and oh almost forgot; longevity. Museums are full of antiques coated with shellac that still don’t need re-coating. Shellac has stood the tests of time whilst modern day products such as lacquer and polyurethane will never outbid shellac, neither in longevity and most definitely in appearance. I understand that there is a need for modern finishes as they come with many benefits such as ease of application, shorter drying times, ready to go out of the can etc, but shellac will always be my most go to finish. It doesn’t mean I don’t use other finishes it means that I use shellac more often than not.

2 thoughts on “Here Is the Proof

  1. I almost always use shellac as my finish of choice for reasons you mention. I am also very much a beginner with only 5 years of experience as a hobbyist. Having said that, I agree with you that shellac needs time to harden up. What I have noticed is that after I put the final coat, the finished wood piece on day 1 (Sunday) vs. day 7 (following Sat) feels different in my hand. As such, I often will try and finish applying shellac on a Sunday and then wax with 0000 steel wool the following Sat. Since I have a day job, letting it sit during the week is easy to accomplish. I just assume it is due to the final traces of ethanol taking longer to diffuse through the shellac.

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  2. Many factors will cause shellac not to dry some or one that I know of will cause it never to dry and that oil. Oil is applied when French polishing to help the rubber glide. This at the very end of polishing needs to be spirited off completely. I spoke to my supplier yesterday, and he advised mixing a hardener into the polish. After 21 days the shellac will become rock hard yet still keep the natural visual clarity and beauty that only shellac can give. The beauty of this hardener is that it will give you the protection, polyurethane. Which means you can comfortably French polish a dining room table and not have to worry about the side effects of hot food and alcoholic beverages. As far as I know this hardener isn’t available for sale to the public. That’s what I’ve been told. I’m buying a litre of the stuff today through my supplier.

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