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Cloudy appearance when finishing shellac with steel wool / paste wax

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  • #575214
    Waldo Nell
    Participant

    I hate the look of a glossy finish, but since shellac is glossy by default, I thought to use steel wool to cut off the nibs and then steel wool plus some paste wax to take the gloss down to a satin sheen. At least that is what I understood Paul was doing in his two videos on finishing with shellac. Problem is that whenever I touch my shellac with steel wool (lubricated or not, paste wax or not) it immediately cloudies (dulls) the surface. Now I expect a satin sheen to be cloudy if the light reflects off it straight overhead, but when compared to unfinished shellac side by side under the same lighting condition, the gloss shellac is much clearer, contrast is higher and colours are punchier.

    How can I achieve the same clarity as the unfinished gloss shellac but still get the smooth, satin surface?

    The first image shows the one half of the edge of wenge after I used steel wool with mineral spirits, then 600 grit sandpaper with mineral spirits, then 1200 then 2500.

    The second image shows the first image followed by applying paste wax with steel wool and buffing it out. Compared to the unfinished glossy shellac on the left half I am losing a lot of clarity and contrast.

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    #575262
    deanbecker
    Participant

    I cannot help but think you are scuffing the surface with the steel wool it is nowhere near 2500 grit ,I think you are going backwards with your finish..

    #575304
    Waldo Nell
    Participant

    So assuming I already scrubbed all surfaces with steel wool, how do I get a smoother, non cloudy finish?

    #575322
    deanbecker
    Participant

    thats tough to say when you finish with 2500 grit. thats polishing in my opinion anything you do to it after, under that level will just scratch . going that fine, buffing and a different finish like a semi gloss over coat sounds like a good way to head.
    I can get a satin finish with 220 and 4 ought steel wool and paste wax. above that i have not done ,

    #575340
    Waldo Nell
    Participant

    I don’t really care for 1200 or 2500 – the results look the same to me if I rub with 0000 steel wool and use paste wax or rub with steel wool followed by 600 sandpaper and then paste wax… Am I expecting too much from a satin finish?

    • This reply was modified 5 months, 3 weeks ago by  Waldo Nell.
    #575473
    deanbecker
    Participant

    You have got me there. I can get a duller shine using courser paper to start and quit at 240-320 but i never have gone so high then tried to satin it up. Sorry

    #575572
    Ed
    Participant

    See if these help you with the basic ideas. These won’t show you how to do this by hand, but they’ll convey the notion of grit vs. sheen, the need for enough build, and the need for curing. I confess to chickening out on learning to rub out finishes. I’ve yet to see a believable demonstration for how to rub out to satin or semigloss when there are details like edge profiles, mouldings, etc. So, I rely on finishes with flatting agents instead, but I really want to learn how to rub out theses more complicated things.


    I’ve studied with Charles at his shop. His methods work, the information is reliable, but the methods do tend to come from a production environment, so they can be hard to figure out how to use in a small shop.

    #575603
    Waldo Nell
    Participant

    Thanks Ed. That is some really good info I can use…

    #575628
    deanbecker
    Participant

    yes ed, thank you that was interesting.

    #575745
    Ed
    Participant

    By the way, you can buy flatting agents for shellac. I’ve not tried them, though. It may be Homestead Finishes that sells them.

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