Sunday, September 12, 2010

It's a Toss Up

I'm not sure which is more tedious, taking the old shellac off or putting the new shellac on. I do know that putting the new shellac on will take a lot less time than stripping the old off. I also don't have to wear gloves and a respirator for putting on the shellac, so that is a huge plus.

I actually like the smell of shellac. It is sort of sweet smelling. It amazes me that anyone would use a polyurethane instead of shellac for woodwork that will not be anywhere near water. Even in areas that will see some splashing I would still consider shellac.

As much as I love shellac it is time consuming to put on. It took me 3 or 4 hours today to get one coat on all of the woodwork in the foyer and stairwell. The first coat takes the longest, so later coats will go faster, but I will be putting on a minimum of 3 coats and most likely 5 on the new woodwork.

Hopefully I can finish up by next weekend and then it will be on to the floors. I already ordered rugs and they are in transit as I write.

It Glistens


Jesse said...

It looks wonderful! You cant even tell the new wood from the old in the picture. I will look great with the floors done. The beautiful stair case makes the floors look a little rough. I guess there always has to be something to do. I know you will do a great job and they will look amazing.

Greg said...

Even I couldn't help but notice how bad the floors look in the picture. While they are bad, the flash from the camera has a lot to do with. Notice how the wall colors are all washed out.

Joosmeister said...

Hi Greg.

It looks so great your perfectionism and attention to the smallest details are really coming through.

The floors in the photo do look pretty rough, but maybe you need a tripod and use natural lighting?

(Except for those all nighters when you just can't wait for the next time it's light out to take a shot)

HPH said...

speechless -- just gorgeous

slateberry said...

Your results are beautiful. That looks like amber shellac to me. What cut do you use? I'd also like to know your blo/turp proportions, but I guess that you figured that out on old house web, and I should take my lazy self over there to figure it out too. But if you'd like to comment for posterity...

Greg said...

I use shellac I buy at either Ace Hardware or Sherwin Williams. It is either Bin or Zinner's, and could be either. I'm not sure of the cut. For BLO/Turp I use roughly a 1:1 mix. When I say "roughly" I mean I never measure. I just ry and get equal parts. If anything I try and get more turpentine. I read once that it is the turpentine that keeps the BLO from getting gummy.

When I first started I obsessed over mixtures, applicators, and cuts of shellac. Not any more. The stuff is really idiot proof and hard to screw up. I think the only drawback would be that BLO darkens the burl a little more than something like tong oil.

slateberry said...

Thanks for the details. I'm just curious because I'm confused by what I see in my house; the woodwork is not at all shiny. When I've used a thin washcoat (which is all I've done so far), it only has a light sheen. That was 50% seal coat (a dewaxed shellac) and 50% denatured alcohol, yielding 8% shellac by volume. I can't believe they would have used something that light as a finish coat. But when I used the same shellac in a 2# cut (16% by volume), the end result was so shiny it looks wet all the time, which is not at all like the original finish. I'll have to do more research to figure out how to replicate the finish in my 1887 house. Or maybe I'll give up on the low-sheen replication and just go whole-hog with 2# cut shellac. I like it anyway.
I've noticed you tend to paint any wood you use that is not redwood. My house has a mix of woods in some places and I think its very subtle. I also think the darkening of the blo/turp mix that you use would help different species blend harmoniously. You might want to consider it (by that I mean, choosing to finish instead of paint a non-redwood feature) for your bag of tricks.

Greg said...

I think a better way to phrase it is that if I plan to paint it, I won't use redwood. Clear, heart redwood is more expensive than a lot of other woods.

To date, the only wood that is apart of the house that is not redwood where the poplar casings I had milled for the butler's pantry. I knew that I was going to paint them so I saved some money and went with poplar.

I've noticed that if I am more aggressive with the steel wool in between coats of shellac I will not get as shiny of a finish. You could even experiment with one last rub down with a very fine steel wool (0000) and then finish by buffing it with a clean, soft towel.