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    A Complete Finish in a Day

    Pad on shellac right away

    Normally, you’d let the oil cure for 24 to 48 hours. You can wait, but if you go directly to the shellac application, it will speed things up and the oil will provide a bit of lubrication for the shellac. The thin coat of oil cures fine below the shellac.

    Plain, orange, waxy shellac (sold in a can as amber shellac) works well and is easy to find. The brand I use comes in a 3-lb. cut that I dilute by mixing 2 parts denatured alcohol with 5 parts shellac. Put the mixture in a squeeze bottle with a dispensing spout.

    I use a padding cloth to wipe on the shellac. It should be as absorbent, clean, and lint-free as possible. Old, clean T-shirts work fine. Cotton is preferred, because polyester does not hold or absorb liquids as well. Wad up the cloth so that the bottom part is smooth and free of wrinkles. Make the pad a manageable size. Large pads are great for big, flat surfaces but don’t work for smaller and more intricate projects.

    Dispense about 2 oz. of denatured alcohol into the pad and compress the pad with your hand several times to work the solvent through it. Then squeeze the pad to remove excess solvent. Pour about 1 oz. of shellac solution onto the pad bottom.

    This thinner shellac is easier to apply, especially on small or intricate surfaces. Wipe it on thinly with a cloth pad, starting with flat surfaces and then working the sides and edges.

    Padding shellac simply means wiping it on thinly with this cloth pad. It is best to practice on a flat surface to get a feel for applying it smoothly and evenly.