Zinnser shellac

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  • #313746

    I gave up on Zinnser’s canned shellacs a few years ago after a few attempts to use them. It didn’t adhere well. So, I switched to mixing my own shellac.

    Off and on, I’ve tried their spray cans of clear shellac. I just tried using the spray shellac again on one of Paul’s little “curved in both direction” planes thinking it would be quick and easy. What a mess. It didn’t atomize well and left a heavily pebbled surface. I’ve played with different distances for spraying and played with making the application lighter and heavier, but it just won’t lay out. This has been true of all of the 4 or so cans I’ve every played with.

    So, I’m wondering: Has anyone had a positive experience with ANY Zinnser shellac products? I might have had one good outcome with their Sealcoat, but that’s not a top coat. I’ve also used their BIN primer in a couple of extreme house-painting circumstances and had a good outcome. But for getting a finish coat of shellac on wood…..it’s stunk every single time.


Viewing 6 replies - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
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  • #313747
    Nick Puiia


    I have been using Zinnser shellac-both clear and orange-for many years with good results. I always start with a “spit coat”, a 5:1 mix of denatured alcohol to shellac. I like it better than the seal coat. This spit coat can also be used between coats of stain to build up the finish and give it depth. There is a good book on finishing and furniture repair called “The Furniture Guys” that has a lot of different finishing methods.

    David B


    I’ve never had a problem with it.



    Never had a problem with it, but does anyone know how long of a shelf life it has?

    David Cole


    I did not give up on Zinzer esp. Sealcote, but I did switch to buying flakes and mixing my own.
    In the short run it seems expensive but over time it has actually been cheaper. And I have really enjoyed the sense of control over the the process that it has given me. You just have to have enough patience to do the mixing at least 24 hours in advance but once you have it mixed, I don’t detect any real problem with shelf life. And because of the self-leveling quality of shellac, I’ve never really felt the need to spray, especially for medium-to-small projects.

    David Cole



    Except for Sealcoat and BIN, shelf life for me is zero, but you probably could have guessed that. : – )



    I have used Zinser shellac quite a bit. They have a code on the can that will tell you the mfg date. It is now coded but if you google, you can find how to decode it. I try and get the stuff that is made most recently (usually within last 6 months). I won’t keep it any longer than a year as I worry about degradation. It has served me well. As best I can tell, the Zinnser is about a 3 to 4 pound cut. As such, I dilute it with an equal part of ethanol.

    Lately, I’ve been making my own. It’s not hard to do at all. I make enough to last me about 3 months.

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