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My first experience using shellac in the mid-1990s was a disaster. The stuff wouldn’t dry. And when it did finally, kinda dry it was a gummy mess. So I stuck to pre-cat lacquer and other film finishes.

However, since then, I’ve gotten my hands on some very good, fresh and pure shellac from Tools for Working Wood in Brooklyn, N.Y. I’ve used lots of other brands, but the Tiger Flakes are the best. Virtually no bug parts to filter out. No wax. It mixes quickly and dries fast and hard, like good shellac should.

Now I’m sure that Joel Moskowitz doesn’t have a lac bug farm in Brooklyn, so he gets it from a supplier in India (or elsewhere). So maybe you can find another brand that uses the same source. But what sets Tiger Flakes apart is they are always fresh, always sealed in a heavy zippered bag and always perform. It’s a natural product, so proper handling is important.

If you have ever had a bad shellac experience, ask for some in your stocking this year and give the Tiger Flakes a try. (Oh, and if you can’t get them direct from Tools for Working Wood, Woodcraft carries the Tiger Flakes. Usually.)

— Christopher Schwarz

Want to read Day 1 of my gift guide? Click here.
Day 2 is here.
Day 3 is here.

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Showing 6 comments
  • neptunoPW

    The flakes get old and them the finish does not dry, according to Jewitt.

    He told me to leave the flakes in the fridge, they will last three times longer or more.

  • gumpbelly

    I too like the German processed flakes, much better consistency. I`d gotten mine in the past from Steve Mickley, guess I`ll have to go through Joel in the future.

  • Tom8021

    I buy mine from . I believe they are importers? Small friendly business. I also found that I keep my flakes in a cool dark place, right next to my wine storage.

  • Clay Dowling

    Bug parts are the least of my worries. Like St. Roy’s blessing of the blood, my work is not complete until one of the shop cats has put a paw print in the finish, usually to be found in an obscure place just before delivery.

  • texasbelliott

    Loving this gift guid.

    Finally, a gift guide that makes sense!

  • Periodcraftsmen

    The whole concept of shellac is amazing, and its my favorite finish. Over the years I have read about only using wax free and bug free shellac, but there are times that a waxy shellac is exactly what I need, and a little bugs parts add character to the overall finish.

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