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Bulls Eye Shellac?

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  • Bulls Eye Shellac?

    Has anybody ever tried Bulls Eye Shellac for BB portraits? I've been brushing on Deft clear finish but I think it's too thick and doesn't level properly like it claims. It also stinks for quite awhile. I open windows but it still permeates the house to a degree. I just bought a can of the spray Deft and that works much better. I sprayed a portrait in my basement, without any ventilation. I didn't stay in the room afterwards but I'm sure the smell will still linger for sometime but the spray dries much faster.

    I searched some old threads and found someone that, due to his inadequate ventilation, uses shellac. I did locate this Bulls Eye online in spray cans for about the same price as the deft. It also cleans up with just soap and water. Evidentally it does not have the order and would be much more suitable for indoor use.

    Hear is the technical info and claims.

    "In an age of fast-drying products, few finishes dry as fast as shellac. Shellac is user-friendly and virtually goof-proof. It can be applied with a brush, pad, sprayer, or wiping cloth. No elaborate instructions are needed, good results are almost guaranteed, and mistakes are easily corrected. In spite of all the wonders of 21st century clear finish chemistry, there is still no other finish that enhances the depth and natural beauty of wood grain like shellac. Wood that has been finished with shellac looks soft and natural, not plastic-coated. The finish will not yellow or darken with age like polyurethanes, and it’s simple to maintain. Shellac is an alcohol-based solution of pure lac, a natural resin secreted by tiny insects on certain trees, mainly in India. It is available in clear and amber which dry to a transparent film. The clear has a faint, golden cast that is much lighter than oil-base finishes, while the amber has a warm, orange cast that gives a rich, antique-look to woodwork. Shellac brushes can be cleaned in all-purpose household detergents or household ammonia and warm water."

    Has anyone ever used it?

    Making sawdust with a Dremel 1680.

  • #2
    I use shellac for puzzle backs, and like it very much for that purpose. very dummy-proof, no bad fumes, etc.

    I don't think it would work well on portraits because of the need to flatten the grain after the first application and to rub out the final finish. In other words, I think sanding or steel-wooling the edges of cut wood would be a pain. You'd probably be better off dipping in oil (not Danish oil which is a wiping varnish).

    Other than that, I think it is a highly under-rated finish.

    Hey, how about mineral oil (baby oil)? I think it could give a nice finish to portraits, and make the grain pop. Just wipe off the excess.



    • #3
      All shellac finishes give a warm amber or yellow tint to the wood. If you brew your own shellac, you can select the degree of light to dark amber.

      Shellac is, IMHO, a 'soft' finish which won't take rough abuse, but your question was for portraits, so this is a moot point.

      Have not tried the spay shellac. Brushed on shellac gave me fits with the clumping in the tight corners of my fretwork.

      I am sure Mac will have additional ideas about shellac.



      • #4
        sawdustus of hiawatha


        I use shellac all the time, especially when it is cold and I can't really open my garage door to remove fumes from other finishes.

        The actual brand name of Bull's Eye Shellac is Zinsser. There web site is I have used their products a lot because of the:
        1. very fast drying time. Coat the wood and it is dry in a very few
        minutes ( 15 or less) so I can put on two or three coats ina day.
        2. It hardens to be able to sand down the inevitable fuzzies in about
        1 hour.
        3. As Pete said, very low fumes but they are alcohol fumes so be
        careful about open flames etc.

        Zinsser makes three shellac varieties as far as I know. In my local Home Depot or Lowes, I can get both spray cans and 1 quart cans of both the Amber and the Clear. I need to go to a local lumber yard to get 1 quart cans of the Seal Coat 100 % wax free shellac.
        1. Amber - a definite yellow-orange color is given to the wood. The
        more coats you use, the darker the color.

        2. Clear - a light yellow color is fiven to the wood. This is often
        blonde shellac.

        3. Seal Coat - a wax free version of light blond shellac.

        One of the biggest drawbacks of shellac is the wax that is naturally present in it. This makes it incompatable with almost any other finish you use. Unless, of course, it is wax. The Seal Coat variety that they sell is a 100% wax free product. It can be used over or under any other type of finish with no problems. I often use it in a diluted form on open grained woods such as oak and ash as a means of closing up some of the pores in the wood so that stains are more evenly applied or so that I can use fewer coats of another finish such as gloss polyurethane.

        As Phil said, shellac is a fairly soft finish. It is non-toxic when dry but is relatively easy to scratch so I don't often use it as a final coat. But as an under coat, or two or three to seal up the wood, it is great!! You only get the raised grain wood fuzzies with the first coat. Pre-sanding the wood to about 320 grit before cutting, then wetting the wood with water, letting it dry and then sanding it again before cutting it helps to lessen the grain raising of the 1st coat of shellac. I have not tried to shellac before attaching the pattern but I am going to try on my next project and see if that works as well. Much easier to sand before cutting.

        Again, as Phil said, brushing it on tends to produce clumps in tight corners. This is due to the very rapid dry time. Spraying it on, several very light coats is best, is sometimes better than brushing it on but use only a natural bristle brush, they are very cheap at HD or Lowes. You can clean them if you use a paper towel dipped in denatured alcolhol since that is the solvent for all types of shellac. Try to brush in only one direction and don't overbrush if the shellac feels at all tacky or sticky. That will only make the clumping worse and will cause heavy brush marks. Diluting it with denatured alcohol makes it somewhat easier to avoid the clumping that the thicker original product produces.

        Wow, I didn't realize how long this is getting. I hope that it is not TMI but helps you out. Good Luck.
        A day without sawdust is a day without sunshine.

        delta 650, hawk G426


        • #5
          I certainly agree with most of what has already been said.
          One more point of interest is to watch the expirey date on the bottom of the can when buying shellac . Once it is past that date it starts to get slow drying until eventually it becomes a sticky mess and has to be stripped off with denatured alcohol. DAMHIKT (Dont Ask Me How I Know That)
          I recently threw out a quarter can of Zinnzer Shellac and a half can of Zinnzer Shellac sanding sealer for that very reason.
          Some people buy shellac flakes and mix it themselves to eliminate the shelf life problem.
          I never use it on scroll work but I love it as base coats before applying final hard film finish on some of my turnings.

          The task ahead of us is never as great as the power behind us

          Delta P-20 Scroll Saw, 14" x 43" Craftex Wood Lathe and Jet 10" Mini Lathe .


          • #6
            Thanks everyone for all your helpful info. I believe I'll stick with the Deft spray. As long as I don't have to stay in the basement after I spray, I'm fine. The fumes don't linger that long.

            Making sawdust with a Dremel 1680.


            • #7
              Mike, If its not too cold, I often spray in the garage, then bring the item into the house to dry. You still have some fumes, but not as many.




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