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 In Finishing

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Make friends with this beautiful, versatile finish

Recently I was asked to judge a woodworking show. One of the best pieces was a wonderfully constructed grandfather clock. Unfortunately, a quick brushing of polyurethane ruined the clock’s appearance. The clock’s creator said he chose polyurethane for protection. But how durable does a coating on a grandfather clock have to be? Why put a finish originally designed for floors on a beautiful clock? What a difference shellac would have made. Don’t get me wrong, polyurethane is a great choice for high wear surfaces like a desk or kitchen tabletop. However, I find people use poly by default simply because it’s readily available as well as durable. But is durability all that matters? There are many other considerations that make shellac a great choice for adding beauty and protection to your projects.

Many woodworkers have walked (stormed) away in frustration after trying shellac. It’s a unique finish and there are some fundamental ground rules one must follow.


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