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Shellac As A Base For Varnish

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Dan Lindberg, Oct 10, 2018.

  1. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    I thought I'd start a new thread for this,
    but, the comments in the recent tread on prep'ing for varnish about using shellac for a base is interesting.
    So, does anybody have some pics they can post of with and without using shellac as a base?

    I'd love to see how the 2 methods look.

  2. Fitz

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Sorry, I don't have two pictures, but I thought I would chime in.

    • I use shellac a lot, especially on canoes that needed new ribs and planking. I strip the whole canoe, stain the new wood only, and then use 2 coats of shellac before varnish. I find that it helps blend the new and old wood well.
    • The shellac dries very fast, so there is no need to wait for a thinned sealing varnish coat to dry. I scuff the shellac between coats, and before the first coat of varnish.
    • I have not bothered to find de-waxed shellac figuring the scuffing helps with the mechanical bond.
    • There are a number of varieties of great colors of shellac. I think it does add warmth and color to the interior of the canoe.
    • Mixing and clean-up is easy.
    • I have noticed some blistering of varnish in hot sun, but it is on canoes that I can't remember if I used shellac on them or not, so I am not ready to blame the shellac. I have not noticed any other ill effects.
    Dan Lindberg likes this.
  3. Andy Hutyera

    Andy Hutyera The Red Canoe Guy

    Shellac bonds well to spar varnish. On a new canoe or after stripping a rebuild I use a coat or two of orange shellac. On a rebuild this seals the wood so I can experiment with stain glazes on the new ribs. If I'm not happy with the result I can wipe off the glaze and keep experimenting until I get a stain that closely matches the old wood. Since the shellac is alcohol soluble I can use mineral spirits to remove the stain without affecting the shellac underneath. On a new canoe it creates a very nice warm color to the new wood.
    Dan Lindberg likes this.
  4. Andy Hutyera

    Andy Hutyera The Red Canoe Guy

    Here are two before and after shots of a rebuild I did a few years ago. DSC_4122.jpg DSC_4168.jpg
    Rob Stevens and Dan Lindberg like this.
  5. OP
    Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    Thanks Guys,
    That canoe came out great.
    I've used shellac on other projects but not canoes, now I need to try it.


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