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How much shellac

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Orelia, Feb 7, 2019.

  1. Orelia

    Orelia Curious about Wooden Canoes


    My very first post.

    I am about to use Shellac for the first time in my life on my first wood and canvas canoe. It will be directly applied on the dried filler. Exciting!

    I’ve added the first layer of color a few days ago. There will be a second one and maybe a third layer.

    Meanwhile I want to prepare the shellac.

    I bought pieces of Shellac, orange (waxed).

    From what I have read on this forum (I love this place!) I have to mix it with alcohol two weeks before using it.

    I want to use a big pot of glass with a lid.

    And I thought I could use bio-ethanol which is 95%.

    I have a Prospector 16ft and made a waterline on 5-6 inches.


    • How many grams of Shellac do I mix with how many liters of ethanol for three layers of Shellac on my canoe?
    • I read on this forum that if the shellac starts dripping over the paint you have 30 seconds to remove it. But what do I use to remove it? Just some piece of cloth? Or something else?

    Looking forward to reaction.

    Regards, O
  2. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    I've never mixed my own, I buy a can pre-mixed and use that... A can easily does a 17 1/2 hull up to the waterline with some left over for future touch-up.
    Just to be clear about your applied "color" above the waterline and below the waterline you'll be applying your 3 or so coats of shellac...right?
    To limit the runs onto the paint I mask between the paint and the filler. You can clean up runs with alcohol and a cloth but it's best to try and avoid them...
    The issue that folks have with applying shellac is that it is very difficult to get a real perfect tends to show where it's thick or thin and touching it up often makes it worse....but if you keep in mind that the shellac is a functional and not decorative finish (even though it looks really good on a hull IMHO) you should be content with how it finishes up... pictures when your done!
  3. Fitz

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    There is a good mixing chart here:

    It has been awhile, but I believe I used a 3lb cut on the hull of the last canoe I did. I really don't think you need to wait 2 weeks when mixing your own. You pretty much just need to make sure all of the flakes dissolve, and it may take part of a day or so to do that. I do think that good quality ethanol makes a noticeable difference in mixing and application. I would mask and remove drips quickly with a rag and some alcohol.
  4. OP

    Orelia Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thank you very much MGC and Fitz!
    I know about the decorative struggle. I should let that go but I saw one canoe here in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands which is done absolutely nice. Someone told me it was done by Rollin Thurlow 20 years ago. It was never done after that and it still looks very nice. So, it must be possible to do it right. But this will be my first attempt. Fingers crossed. Haha. Sure I will make pictures!
  5. dtdcanoes

    dtdcanoes LOVES Wooden Canoes

    A fellow member, Tom Seavey in Henniker, N.H. does a masterful job of spraying shellac on the hull. He had a canoe in the WCHA classifieds a while ago. It may be there, but I know he would take your call and discuss with you. Have fun.
  6. OP

    Orelia Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Spraying? Oh! Sounds good but I will try this first one with a brush. Maybe the second canoe... haha
  7. dtdcanoes

    dtdcanoes LOVES Wooden Canoes

    O-Man.........Oh, I didn't mean to suggest you give spraying a go. I just wanted to advise that shellac application for me is not at all like painting , but it can be sprayed and the finish is very nice. You would need lots of practice if you are not proficient already. Have fun. Dave
  8. OP

    Orelia Curious about Wooden Canoes

    :) I will thanks!
  9. OP

    Orelia Curious about Wooden Canoes

  10. OP

    Orelia Curious about Wooden Canoes

  11. OP

    Orelia Curious about Wooden Canoes

    4 coats of orange shellac. Very happy with the result!
  12. samb

    samb LOVES Wooden Canoes

    That looks lovely. Can you please give us details of the process?
  13. OP

    Orelia Curious about Wooden Canoes

    It was a challenge to get it right, Sam!

    My very first Shellac experience was very exciting!

    You need a good brush for it, space to walk arround the canoe, no surprises in between; no mailman, phone or other disturbances. My gas alarm went off while I was doing the first layer. I had my windows and door wide open so I threw the alarm in the garden. Over there it still went off in another tone because the battery was almost empty.... but I didn’t have the time to run after it.

    No one phoned the fire brigade though....


    I made 300 grams orange shellac (not de-waxed) on 1 liter ethanol.

    I think I used half of it for my 16ft canoe.

    I gave it four coats in total. One coat was 15 minutes work, drying 1 hour, light sanding with 400 grid paper. Taking of the dust and directly did the second layer.

    I’ve put something like 300ml in a can that I hold in my hand during the work.

    This is what worked for me:
    • Don’t put a lot on your brush, it should not be dripping off.
    • Apply thin strokes.
    • Keep the strike short: 30-40 cm
    • Start your strike very lightly and finish it lightly (lift your brush up when you finish; think about your paddle stroke )
    • Don’t end strokes next to each other at the same position
    • Don’t look back, so never try to correct, just go on, you can restore it with sanding and with the next layer.
    • When you change side don’t stop on the sides on the same middle line otherwise you will see a line in the middle.
    • During sanding you may restore spots that got too much shellac.
    • Don’t stop the strikes on the same places with the next layers.
    • You have to use controlled speed.
    • Last but not least; try to enjoy it. It can be fun!
  14. samb

    samb LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Thanks. It sounds quite do-able, and certainly looks good. Maybe on the next boat . . . . . . .
  15. dtdcanoes

    dtdcanoes LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Makes me recall my first gold leaf job on a courting canoe......a wow moment when we try something new and we get it just right.....very nice and a WOW. It inspires me to get it done on my EM is time. Dave

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