Mixing shellac from dry flakes can be a little intimidating for the new wood finisher, but the process is a lot easier than it looks. Once you understand the weights and volumes to achieve the desired cut of shellac, making a batch will be easy.
Shellac is sold in flake form at many woodworking stores or online, and it can last a very long time in this form if kept dry. When needed, smaller batches of shellac can be mixed. This saves money because only the amount needed is mixed.
Mixing Shellac is about proportions, and the video explains this well. The cut of shellac refers to the density of shellac in the alcohol, with the larger cut numbers meaning more shellac in the mixture.
For most applications in fine woodworking, a 1.5-2.0 pound cut is perfect. It is thick enough to lay down a layer on the surface, yet thin enough that it wont get like syrup. You can always try it out and add either more alcohol to thin, or more flake to thicken.
Mixing shellac does take a little time, as the flakes need to dissolve in the alcohol and create a solution. This can be sped up by grinding the flakes into smaller pieces before adding them to the jar. After that, swirl the contents of the jar more often to help mix everything.
For more finishing videos, take a look at my Finishing With Tru-Oil Video. I love hand applied finishes, and Tru-Oil is one of my favorites. This is a traditional finish with a modern adaptation for drying quicker. It sets up as a film, so it offers protection as well.
Does anyone else who already mixes their own shellac have any tips or tricks they want to share? If so, please leave a comment and everyone can benefit from your experience.
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