Hand Tools Archive
I can't find the post you made last week about the cost of shellac in a can from zinsser, but unless you can buy shellac from india, it's likely to be the cheapest.
3 pound cut in a can, so 3/11*32 = 8.3 roughly - ounces of shellac in a can.
My favorite seller of flakes is what appears to be a younger guy running an online store called "wellermart".
You can get buttonlac, carious flake shellac or crushed powder. Blonde dewaxed in bulk is still $20 a pound, so figure $10-$11 for flakes plus solvent. I'm not sure there's a reason to get waxed (like the blonde can that zinsser uses), but it may be a little cheaper for them to use that.
To get a mostly ethyl denatured alcohol, it would be difficult to do much better than the price in the zinsser can.
There's no magic secret, though - i'm sure they just get their shellac directly from india.
When I was buying buttonlac from wellermart ($23 a pound for light pure buttonlac - which is really a darker shellac, or $28 for kusmi buttonlac), I noticed an amazon india listing that google brought me that suggested the price for buttonlac in india (on amazon) is around $4 US for 500 grams.
Of all of the things in the world where it makes no sense to be brand loyal, shellac is at the top of my list.
You're also right about MEK - and possibly something else. It's been a while since I read the MSDS, but I recall a big deal being made a few years ago about how unhealthy methyl alcohol fumes are (my what's healthy and what's not threshold doesn't really register for things like that). As I recall, zinsser at the time used a mostly ethyl alcohol base.
There were and still a lot of people who suggested that the zinsser shellac is not highbrow enough, but I have no clue what they're talking about.
If you think $38 for a bandsaw blade is bad, try buying firewater at the liquor store and shellac flakes from a woodworking supplier.