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View Full Version : Shellac: What Color do You Use?



sequoia
09-24-2016, 08:15 PM
I've always used as clear a shellac as possible (light, light blond) because I didn't want to color the wood or make a dark wood darker obscuring the grain figure. However, lately I'm thinking about going to a darker shellac like an amber for use on mahogany, ziricote and spruce. What do you use and does the slightly darker shellac obscure figure on darker woods? Or maybe even enhance figure? Thanks.

Allen
09-24-2016, 09:16 PM
Blond first, then something darker, then more blond.

I love that mix using garnet as the darker color for mahogany. You only need a few thin coats to make a difference. If you go all dark from the get go it can be too much.

Michael N.
09-25-2016, 12:36 AM
It doesn't obscure the grain. You would have to put an awful lot on before that happens. Use the colour that gives you the effect that you want. I often use a red dye and button shellac on AB Walnut to give it warmth, otherwise it can look a bit dull, uninteresting and grey. Too much of a change and it starts looking like another type of wood altogether. I've even turned walnut into rosewood! alkanet is great for doing that. Best keep it simple and subtle though.
Colour on spruce can give you problems unless you are experienced at applying colour on top of a light coloured wood. Don't use anything darker than blonde shellac and see how it goes. It can give a bright golden yellow, which is rather attractive. Even blonde shellac can start to look patchy if you aren't careful. Another method for colour is to subject the wood to UV light. Spruce can take on a lovely aged look, even nicer with blonde shellac applied. Colour on top of woods like mahogany and walnut are less prone to turning out patchy, it still can happen though. Practice on scrap, always a good bit of advice.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
09-25-2016, 06:42 AM
I have all the five shades LMI sell and use them all with general sealing, french polishing, adding some colour to anemic looking wood and colour corrections (ie- the back is slightly redder/warmer then the sides so the sides get a coat of garnet).

You probably only need 2 or 3 of LMI's shades though.

sequoia
09-25-2016, 06:37 PM
Blond first, then something darker, then more blond. I love that mix using garnet as the darker color for mahogany. You only need a few thin coats to make a difference. If you go all dark from the get go it can be too much.

What a concept! Thank you Allen. I can see the possibilities.... Michael's advice to experiment before is good. What looks best for that piece of wood? Find out before. It's easy too and saves a potential disappointing finish. Actually I've learned to experiment before I do almost anything new. Learned that one the hard way... It seems the more I get into finishing, it becomes its own universe. Almost a world separate from building. I find I really enjoy it. When it works that is.