View Full Version : French Polish / Shellac question

01-25-2011, 07:40 AM
Hello all. I have a quick question to ask about shellac.

I've bought some Lemon shellac flakes to make up some French Polish for touching up the finish on an old Kumalae after I've repaired a split in the soundboard.

The problem is, the only methylated spirits I can find here (Northern Ireland) is dyed bright purple. I'm assuming this will affect the colour of the polish?

Are there any alternatives that are easily available?

I'd need it to be locally available, as it's pretty much impossible to get flammable liquids shipped here, even from mainland UK.


01-25-2011, 08:02 AM
Eesh...sounds like the product safety weenies have struck again.
I don't know Northern Ireland at all....but denatured alcohol has many uses in finishing. I would guess that someone still has the clear stuff. Call around to paint shops, furniture finishing shops or art stores.

01-25-2011, 08:10 AM
the chemist part of me proves it's use. you might be able to decolour the spirits by mixing it with active carbon or norrit. then filter the spirit with norrit over a fine filter or some layers of cloth

01-25-2011, 09:03 AM
We use 99.8% isopropyl/isopropanol. Works a charm, doesn't cloud, and easy to get. You can probably get some from your pharmacy (or chemist I guess you would call it). A pint should last you quite a while. We get ours from an ebay shop in Germany, but there's plenty available at ebay.co.uk (http://shop.ebay.co.uk/?_from=R40&_trksid=p5197.m570.l1311&_nkw=isopropanol&_sacat=See-All-Categories).

01-25-2011, 09:13 AM
Can you get 190 proof grain alcohol? Much better than denatured alcohol as it omits the poisons.

01-25-2011, 09:16 AM
You can probably get some from your pharmacy (or chemist I guess you would call it). A pint should last you quite a while.
This is the place get mine from, usually 250ml or 500ml bottles. Or if you've got a friend who works in a hospital ;-) (but I didn't say that did I, honest guv).

01-25-2011, 09:23 AM
Thanks for the replies! Very helpful.
I dissolved a few flakes in the purple meths and tested on some scrap spruce. I can't see any purple tinge, but will try to find some Isopropanol just to be safe.

01-25-2011, 09:30 AM
Can you get 190 proof grain alcohol? Much better than denatured alcohol as it omits the poisons.

I think the closest I could get to that would be to 'source' some Poitín (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poit%C3%ADn) ;)

01-25-2011, 09:31 AM
I've got a mate in Townsville that did his first few instruments with the purple metho from the local hardware store. The color didn't effect the finish at all. The only issue is that this metho was a lot less pure (more water) than the best stuff has. I go to a local cleaning supply store and buy 4 litres of metho. Used for all kinds of industrial cleaning uses, so no color and much better quality than the hardware brand.

01-25-2011, 09:56 AM
Can you get 190 proof grain alcohol? Much better than denatured alcohol as it omits the poisons.

Can't get that stuff here. But keep in mind that the purity is crucial. 190 proof is 95%, but you really want 96% or more. And the alcohol will absorb moisture from the air over time, so the lower percentage you start the sooner you'll get clouding from impurities. If you start at 99+% you will have used it up before you run into any problems.

A propos poisons, we were visiting my grandparents in Maryland once and my grandmother had one of these really cool little paper cup dispensers in the bathroom, where you would pull one out from the bottom. Anyway I went in there to get a paper cup of water one day, I was about 5 years old, and there was already one resting on the shelf -- oh cool Schalke 04 just shot another goal, so it's 2:2 against the FC Nürnberg in the German cup. Go Schalke!! -- where was I? Oh yeah, so there was this nice little paper cup full of water ... (clear liquid) resting on the shelf above the sink and, OK fine, down she goes. Oh ****** !!!!!! You have never seen a person spit out faster! It was isopropanol! I'm glad I noticed it fast enough! For some reason someone had left this there for cleaning. Never do that! Kids respect the XXX sign, but they are lazy little buts at times, like me, and couldn't be bothered getting a new cup and turning the fawcet on.

01-25-2011, 11:01 AM
The purple type is ok for French Polish we use it all the time.. Denatured alcohol (or methylated spirits) is ethanol that has additives to make it more poisonous or unpalatable, and thus, undrinkable. ...Methylin blue gives it the colour
The wino's used to filter the spirit through a loaf of bread...to make it more drinkable:D.

01-25-2011, 11:49 AM
I use pure grain alcohol.
I avoid using denatured alcohol.
The toxins in denatured alcohol can be absorbed through the skin and lungs and long-term exposure will cause damage to liver and central nervous system.

Pure grain alcohol is expensive because most of the purchase price is taxes.

It should be 190 proof.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
01-25-2011, 12:41 PM
Everclear. 190 proof.

01-27-2011, 07:02 PM
Everclear. 190 proof.

Chuck beat me to it, I just get a pint of Everclear at the liquor store, works great.

01-28-2011, 04:07 AM
Yeah, nothing better than working with bug residue and moonshine.... ;)

01-28-2011, 04:31 AM
This works very well, is anhydrous (before it's opened) and has a minimal amout of Naptha as a denaturant:

This is also available at Woodcraft stores but not on their website for some reason and at about the same price as 190 proof. Many places have outlawed 190 proof so I'm glad to see Joel is offering this.

01-29-2011, 01:31 PM
I use these chaps http://stores.ebay.co.uk/BIOSTAIN-ON-E-BAY don't know if they have an outlet in Ireland. £8 for 5 litres of isopropanol.