This is 5 Great Uses for Amber Shellac. In this post, I’ll show you how to use this fun finish to create some beautiful looks that are hard to make with a different product. I’ll also share some tips and tricks as well. Enjoy.
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Using Amber Shellac
Shellac is a clear finish that comes in a number of different shades and tones. They range from clear or blonde to very deep or Garnet. With everything available in between, shellac is a pretty versatile topcoat.
Of all those shades, the one that is the most versatile and can do some of the most interesting things is Amber. This is a yellow-ish red tone, and it’s because of that particular mixture of colors that this breed of shellac can do what it does.
Coming up, I’ll show you several interesting things that you can do with amber shellac. This is a really cool finishing product, and it’s something that’s been used for thousands of years, so it has a very long and historical track record as well.
Warm Up a Stain Color
Most people know the difference between warm colors and cold colors, but in case you don’t, warm colors are yellow’s and red’s and oranges. These are like the sun, And that’s the easy way to remember that they’re warm.
Cold colors are blues, greens, and shades of those colors. These colors are called cold colors, and they are the opposite of warm colors. Knowing this difference, you can use amber shellac to your advantage.
For example, if you add some Amber shellac over a coat of stain, you can warm up the color. The slight tent of yellow and red over the stain color brings out that warmness and richness, and add a warm patina.
Used in small amounts, you can add a subtle but noticeable warm glow to your woodworking projects that is difficult to put your fingers on, but you know it’s there. People handling the project will also recognize this as well.
Add Age to a Project
Another thing you can do with Amber shellac is use it to age your woodworking projects artificially. This patina, if done a little thicker can make your projects look a lot older than they actually are.
Use a slightly thicker coat of shellac, and it will sit on the surface a lot more like an old fashioned wood finish. This creates a tactile feeling of an older finish, and also gives that warm look of a traditional finish.
Both of these qualities add age to your woodworking projects, and make them appear to be older than they actually are. In a time where rustic projects and older projects are becoming more popular, this can be a huge advantage.
See Also: Rustic Wood Staining Technique
Seal a Knot from Weeping
Another thing that shellac does really well is seal knots. Knots on wood tend to weep sap, and they’re actually really difficult to seal. There are a lot of products out there to do it, but amber shellac is one of the best.
All you need to do is clean up the area, and dry it really well. Then coat the knot with your amber shellac, and let it dry completely. If you’re concerned about the color transferring to the rest of the piece, use a fine brush and simply coat the knot itself.
This way, you don’t have to worry about the color transferring, because anyone looking at the project will just believe it’s the not in the wood, and not anything that was applied to it that’s causing you to see it through the finish.
Seal Wood Before Staining
Wood is a porous substance with different densities. The winter wood and the summer wood are typically of different harnesses, and that could affect the way that stain is absorbed. In the end, it affects the way the color looks.
Unless you are intentionally going for a natural looking stain, where areas will be lighter and areas will be darker, using amber shellac is a way to help even things out. It’s also a way to add a subtle warm layer below your stain.
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Use a thin coat of amber shellac, and coat the entire surface of the board that you intend to stay. Allow the product to dry completely, and very lightly scuff the surface to even out the shellac.
After that, you can apply your stain as normal. This time, you’ll notice so much more even application, with less differences in color absorption. You may like this trick so much that you end up using it on a lot of different projects.
Provide the Base for French Polishing
Amber shellac can also provide a very good base for French polishing, which is a traditional method of applying shellac and building up layers with a cloth pad. If you want to get into French polishing, you can have a lifetime of fun learning ahead of you.
Amber shellac just has a beautiful warm appearance and a slight tint to the color that makes it look absolutely amazing. It’s a beautiful base for a French polish, and can make something like a handmade instrument look like it came from a museum.
If you are interested in French polishing, take a look at the many videos that are available online, and try to absorb the techniques. It’s not the most difficult thing in the world to learn, but it does take a little practice. The reward is worth it though.
See Also: Mixing Shellac
Waxed vs De-Waxed Shellac
There are two main types of shellac when it comes time for you to go and buy some for yourself. There is shellac that has wax in the mixture, and there’s shellac that does not. They do perform a little differently, so it’s a good idea to buy the right one.
For most applications where you’re finishing something that you don’t have to worry about getting wet or getting hot, either will do just fine. If you don’t want to mix anything yourself, most of the shellac that comes in a can has wax in it.
However, if you don’t mind mixing your own shellac, which is not difficult at all, then go for the dewaxed version that sold in flakes. All you really do is mix these flakes with some alcohol, and it becomes a finish in a liquid form.
My recommendation is the flakes and alcohol method. You get to control the amount of shellac that’s in the mixture, and you can adjust it based on the goal you have for the finish. You get all of the control, with just one little extra step in between.
Your Action Assignment
Now that you know these five great uses for amber shellac, it’s time to get out in the shop and take action. Pick up some amber shellac as soon as you can, and start experimenting with it as a wood finish.
I promise you’re going to love this stuff. It’s a very unique product, with a rich historical tradition that connects you to wood finishers of thousands of years ago. You can do a lot more interesting things with this than just about any modern finish.
If you have any questions about using amber shellac, please post a question and I’ll be glad to answer them. Happy building.
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