Can You Apply Lacquer over Shellac?

Discover the Joy of Sealing Woodwork: Lacquer Over Shellac

Mastering Wood Finishes: Can Lacquer Adhere to Shellac?

Hi there, fellow woodworkers! I’m Thomas, and I absolutely adore bringing life to wood through my craftsmanship. There’s an indescribable joy in seeing a woodworking project come to fruition, especially when you’re down to the final touches of sealing and finishing. Ever been torn between using lacquer and shellac? Well, guess what? You can actually use both to achieve a phenomenal finish.

Why Combine Lacquer and Shellac?

Lacquer over shellac, you ask? Absolutely! Here’s the deal: Lacquer offers that much-needed durability and resistance to water and alcohol. For a successful bond, go for dewaxed shellac. If you’ve already applied regular shellac, no worries! Just ensure to remove the wax first. A good sanding, followed by lacquer application, gives you that smooth, enduring finish you’re looking for.

Personal Experience and Variety

As a passionate carpenter, I’ve experimented with various finishes. Sometimes, I use shellac as a standalone finish, but more often, I prefer lacquer over shellac for most projects. Why? It’s all about the added durability. However, remember, it’s not mandatory for every piece. Each project is unique, and the choice of finish should reflect that.

Understanding Lacquer vs. Shellac

Before diving into the application process, it’s crucial to understand what sets lacquer and shellac apart. Shellac brings a rich shine and comes in diverse color tones, but it lacks lacquer’s water resistance and durability. Lacquer, on the other hand, might not have color variations, but it superbly enhances the wood’s natural tone. By applying lacquer over shellac, you get the best of both worlds.

Choosing Your Finish

When deciding which finish to use, consider the piece’s intended use. Lacquer, known for its durability and water resistance, is often chosen for items with heavy usage and water exposure, like dining tables. Shellac, with its array of colors, is ideal for adding an artistic touch to pieces that won’t face much water exposure. The choice between lacquer and shellac largely depends on their different thinners and your project’s specific needs.

My Go-To Products

For shellac, I prefer the hassle-free Rust-Oleum Zinsser 304H 1-Quart Bulls Eye Clear Shellac from Amazon. And when it comes to lacquer, my top pick is Mohawk Finishing Products M102-0540 Mohawk Finisher’s Choice Clear Gloss Lacquer, also found on Amazon.

Step-by-Step: Applying Lacquer Over Shellac

Ready to give your woodworking project a stunning and durable finish? Let’s delve into the process of applying lacquer over shellac:

  1. Select Dewaxed Shellac: This ensures a smoother seal when applying lacquer.
  2. Apply the Shellac: Go for thinner layers and aim for 1-3 layers, with 2 being ideal. Remember, the more layers, the richer the color.
  3. Sand Between Layers: Ensure each shellac layer is dry before sanding. Use grits between 220 and 330 for the best results.
  4. Carefully Apply the Lacquer: Apply it as you would on bare wood, in thin layers. This is your final layer, so make it count!
  5. Let It Dry: Once the lacquer dries, your masterpiece is complete, boasting the beauty of shellac and the durability of lacquer.
Summary of Key Points
Aspect Details
Lacquer over Shellac Provides durability and water resistance
Shellac Rich shine, color variation, less durable
Lacquer Enhances natural wood tone, more durable
Product Choice Depends on project’s use and exposure to elements
Application Process Select dewaxed shellac, apply and sand layers, carefully apply lacquer, let it dry


Can You Apply Lacquer over Shellac?

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