Author Topic: Shellac flake color recommendation for maple boards and baltic birch plywood  (Read 650 times)

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Offline CoastRedwood

  • Posts: 11
I'm a home woodworker who has essentially always used wipe-on poly as a finish so far.

I'd like to experiment with using shellac (mixed from flakes) for a few projects, and am deciding on which color to buy for projects made from baltic birch plywood or maple boards. I'm more focused on bringing out the best in the wood than ending up with any particular color.

I'm leaning toward one of the lighter shades, but from the photos and descriptions I've found it's hard to tell whether blonde, super blonde, or platina is going to look the best. I'm not opposed to buying, say, 2 colors to try, but I'd prefer to avoid overcomplicating things.

I will probably either buy tiger flakes or WellerMart's flakes.

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Offline Peter Kelly

  • Posts: 184
BT&C Tiger Super Blonde is pretty well totally clear without any amber tone once it dries. If you're going to be using it on lighter woods this is probably the way to go.
  • Get a cheap coffee grinder and run the flakes through it prior to dissolving them
  • If you live in a state where either 190 proof Everclear or Graves grain alcohol are available, I'd recommend using either of them over the "denatured" stuff.
  • A small digital scale is really useful in keeping your mixes consistent
  • I've found either Corona Heritage or Europa brushes work well enough without breaking the bank: https://www.thepaintstore.com/Corona-Europ-Badger-Style-Bristle-p/16038.htm

Offline CoastRedwood

  • Posts: 11
Thanks, I appreciate the help.

Offline Steve1

  • Posts: 234
Possibly this helps.
I had some Super Blond and Garnet mixed up, and some maple.   I have never tried Platina shellac.
Hope the image comes through OK.
The super blond gives it a rather nice "glistening", but really does not have much color.   Might not be much different than a clear poly.  It did accentuate the "grain lines" on the maple.   Possibly I should have applied the shellac to the left-most piece on the board, which has more figuring.
The garnet just looks un-natural to me.

Probably birch and maple would not look too much different.

(Not sure why the left hand side of the garnet is darker)

« Last Edit: November 24, 2022, 04:55 PM by Steve1 »

Offline kevinculle

  • Posts: 505
One thing to consider beyond appearance.  Shellac is a great basecoat in addition to being a beautiful final finish where maximum durability isn't a requirement.  Like you I used to primarily use wipe-on poly for everything.  Shellac has the great advantage of being able to build finish depth quickly thanks to its fast drying time and to being compatible with virtually all film finishes.  I routinely start by using a light coat of thinned shellac if I am staining a project as it helps even out stain absorption compared to bare wood.  You can also tint shellac with alcohol soluble dyes.  I will generally coat 4 to 7 shellac coats an hour or two apart to fill the pores, with light scuff sanding before the last two coats.  Then if I want a harder more durable finish fine sand the final shellac coat then a couple coats of wipe-on poly to provide that.  YMMV.

Offline CoastRedwood

  • Posts: 11
Thanks for the picture Steve, and that's useful information on using it as a base coat Kevin. I'm hoping to give that a try at some point.

Offline Steve1

  • Posts: 234
I am new to using shellac too.

The one critical feature of shellac that led me to try it, is when I read the old saying.....

"Shellac sticks to everything, and everything sticks to shellac"

Ahah, that's how I can put down a coat of tung oil and the put water based poly over top.    But I am finding that the shellac gives just as nice an appearance as tung then shellac.   (Might have to make my own thread on that)