Sunday, July 25, 2010

It's Always Something

I'm trying to make progress on my floor refinishing, I really am.

This past week I mixed a quantity of Kusmi #1 shellac buttons in denatured alcohol, enough to make three cups of 2-pound cut shellac (that's the biggest jar I had).  Three days to let the lac dissolve, then filter it and the aniline dyes yesterday or today, and I'd be ready to start mixing up color samples.

But once the buttons were dissolved, I noticed an orangey cloudy substance floating in the bottom of the jar.  And though I tried filtering it out through heavy t-shirt fabric, whatever it was went right on through.  Looked it up online last night, and it appears that's the wax that naturally occurs in shellac.  I also learned that it's good to get rid of it, since the less wax, the better water resistance.

Yesterday I decanted the waxiest part into another jar.  But this evening I saw that what was left is pretty waxy still.  The websites tell me to siphon the good part off, but I'm not schooled in such mysteries.  Doesn't that involve sticking a tube into it and sucking it up and trying not to get it in your mouth?  Sounds like a dubious procedure to me.

As it is, I think I have half or less left of what I originally mixed, and I'm contemplately committing sacrilege and letting the Zinsser people take care of it.  I know what they say about getting better quality control and freshness if you mix up your own shellac, and I also know what other people say about Zinsser having perfectly good quality control, you just have to make sure you look at the top of the can and make sure it's from a recent batch.  I do know that I sampled the can of Zinsser amber shellac I bought in May last year, brushing a swatch on a piece of Plexiglas, and it set up right away.

If I give in and use the commercial shellac, it may be because I'll need more of it than I can mix on my own with what I have.  For some reason, when I ordered the lac buttons I got three different kinds, none of which are enough to do the whole job, floors, trim, doors, and all.  Gary at the Old Crackhouse says the various lac colors don't show up that different as applied, but I'd prefer not to make the experiment.

Meanwhile, what I have left of the Kusmi is settling some more.

Got the walnut and mahogany aniline dyes filtered.  That's done, at least.  Had some sediment stuck on the bottom of the jars after I was done.  I'm hoping that took care of a lot of the particles that wouldn't remain in suspension, and isn't a sign I've waited too long to use the dyes.  (Mixed them two months ago yesterday.)  Not sure what would happen if I had; I dipped a piece of pine wood into the mahogany dye and it took it and dried like it's supposed to.  Whatever I use for my basic shellac, it will be cut and tinted with the aniline, so the color will go on in layers, vs. dyeing the wood itself.

The next thing on the list was to sand down some discarded pieces of floorboard to emulate the real thing, to test colors.  The sandpaper sheets you can get to go on the Black & Decker mouse sander are too blinking expensive, so I purchased rolls of fuzzy-backed 60 and 80 grit paper from these guys.  Works great, but I have to use an old sheet as a template and cut each piece to size.  No problem, except I can't find the scissors I use for that, anywhere.  It's a old pair I inherited from my grandfather, and last I saw them, I'd discovered I'd left them out in the garden all winter.  I thought I put them someplace safe, but if so, they're safe from me!  And my other utility scissors refuse to work.

So until I can cut sandpaper, I can't do any sanding and the work is at a standstill.

Actually, I'm on for round three of chemotherapy tomorrow, so there's a standstill of its own.  Temporary, I hope.  I've been stinking tired these past few days, but I hope that's from the heat.


Larry said...

Don't you just LOVE playing with chemicals?! ;)

Kate H. said...

Yeah, especially when I'm no chemist!