Hand Tools

Re: The role of sand paper in hand tool work

David Weaver
One thing my picture didn't convey well is just how little shellac it took to brighten the surface uniformly and how bright it is. One thing I've noticed in the past is just how much more shellac it takes to do that when a surface is torn by sanding. Probably three times as much.

If there's any reason that this surface wouldn't match a sanded surface with a thin finish, it's that (the shellac itself will make the sanded surface much darker).

If I can remember when I get home, I'll take a picture of it as is. In terms of pore filling something like cherry, to go from the surface that I have to a french polish type surface doesn't take much, and it won't move the stain. Since the pores are small on cherry, it takes very little to fill them with shellac - maybe a round. What's true after that is the finish may shrink some over time so if perfection is needed (e.g., you want the piece to look brand new all the time), then a second round may be necessary, but the difficulty of doing a functional french polish is overblown, especially on wood that doesn't have enormous pores.

if a french polish is done to a thicker finish, then it becomes much harder to tell sanded from not, regardless of the amount of stain, and doing it on woods with enormous pores takes more rounds and there will be more pore shrink.

Shellac just flat out looks better than polyurethane finishes, no matter what you do to color both, too. It looks more natural, has better color and tones the color of the wood better. I've done a fair number of guitar woods with WB or poly finishes next to a shellac finish and they look dead.

And i know the constant vote against shellac (it's not durable!). I made my son a bookshelf about 7 years ago now. When he was just learning to stand, he slobbered all over it and the slobber left water marks.

Same for my daughter, but she put rings on the shellac and other marks from spilling things on it.

Last year or the year before, I went around with a paper towel, a little bit of lubricant and the clear spray zinnser stuff. I don't think it took 5 minutes to eliminate every visual defect on the finishes of both pieces (the point of the oil being just to prevent fibers from the paper towel sticking on the cases).

(and you never have to wait for the stain to dry to start applying it - any excess oil in the stain will just come up through the shellac and be wiped off and help the process along).

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