Monday, August 17, 2009

Mixing Me Up Some Shellac

I did not get the redux of my dark rose glaze completed this evening. Something not related to renovating the house came up today and I had to take care of it.

But the day wasn't totally wasted. I started my shellac samples for refinishing my woodwork!

Couple-three weeks ago I received three kinds of button lac, Kusmi #1, Kusmi #2, and Bysakhi, from Sometime after that, I hit upon the holy grail of 190 proof denatured alcohol at Craig's Hardware just up the road in New Brighton, of all places. Sunnyside brand, at the prescribed composition of 95% ethyl (grain) alcohol to just 5% of denaturants, vs. the high-percentage methyl (wood) alcohol stuff you get most places, which can be very poisonous to use and, I am told, doesn't yield the best quality shellac. I was so screamingly pleased to find the good stuff, and so close.

I mixed up a half cup of each kind of shellac, to test them and decide what I need. Two pound cut, meaning one ounce of lac buttons each.

Oh, rats. My kitchen scale, never accurate, would not cooperate at all. Varied wildly. Wouldn't give the same measurement twice in a row.

All right, off to the mall to buy a new scale. Fortunately, the kitchen store had a good selection and none were too expensive.

To make your shellac, the lac buttons first have to be crushed up into smaller pieces. They come a good inch and a half across and look like solidified maple syrup, but I, at least, could not break them with my fingers. Tried the rubber mallet with the buttons in a plastic freezer bag. Nope, broke the bag before it broke the lac. Tried again, wrapping them in several layers of paper towel. Worked better.

With the gallon can of denatured alcohol, I discovered I'd forgotten something when I bought it-- a pour spout for the opening. After drowning my kitchen counter in undrinkable booze, ended up taking the can and the plastic graduated cylinder out to the back sidewalk where, when I slopped it, I could get away with making a mess.

I've got the shellac working in old clean Barilla spaghetti sauce jars. Nice, tight lids and ounce markings pressed into the glass. Yeah, they still smell a little of tomato, but that won't hurt-- I don't think.

As you let the alcohol dissolve the shellac button shards, you give it a stir every so often. Like every fifteen to thirty minutes. I was doing it more often than that up until the time I finished supper and came upstairs, so they're past due for an agitation now. The shellac was doing nice things to the wooden paint stick I was using. This is going to be fun. I'm looking forward to experimenting on a sample piece of my wood trim.

But as with all house renovation joy, there's the pain to get over with first. No, not completing the stairhall painting. I mean hauling the shop vac down the basement and cleaning up as much cat hair as I can, so my woodwork doesn't end up with strange textures in it. And there is a prodigious amount of cat hair in my basement. And spiderwebs, and sawdust, and lint, and random paint peelings, and--

Oh, yeah. Not looking forward to that.


Sandy said...

I think I hate to clean up spider stuff much more than cat hair. Sigh. I can't wait to see how the glazes come out!

Kate H. said...

Nice thing about having a shop vac-- till it's time to empty it. Yuck.