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    A Complete Finish in a Day

    Finishing different surfaces requires an assortment of techniques

    For flat surfaces, bring the pad down lightly near one edge and drag it across the top and off the opposite edge, like an airplane landing and then taking off again. Come in from the other side and repeat the stroke. Continue down the board in alternating stripes, with the grain. When you’ve reached the bottom, start again at the top. One of the great benefits of shellac is that it dries quickly enough for you to repeat the sequence rapidly. Work the sides and edges in a similar fashion. As the pad starts to dry out, reload it with shellac.

    For complex surfaces such as furniture interiors, tight corners, or other challenging areas, you’ll need to modify things a bit. Start with the pad anywhere that’s convenient and move it toward corners, right angles, and such. Keep the pad moving. When you recharge, make sure you don’t put too much shellac in the pad or you’ll pool it. Bring the pad down on the surface and immediately begin to move it using just the pressure of your fingers or the weight of your arm.

    To finish routed or other threedimensional surfaces, wad up the cloth and compress it into the profile of the edge. Use a small, well-wetted portion of the pad to get the shellac into small or tight areas. But again, make sure that you don’t get the pad too wet or you’ll create problems.

    It probably took you longer to read about the shellac application than it will to actually do it. For a medium-size project like a small cabinet or table, I spend only about 30 minutes with the shellac. Smaller projects are a little harder, because you risk returning to an area before it dries, and dragging the gummy shellac. Move the pad more slowly, or try using a smaller pad.

    You may encounter streaks or fibers in the sticky shellac. Any application marks or debris can be rubbed out with some 600-grit (CAMI grade) sandpaper followed by 0000 steel wool after the shellac has cured for about eight hours. Because there are no “coats” of finish in the conventional sense, just keep applying the finish to achieve the look you want.

      Use 600-grit sandpaper to smooth out application marks or remove debris.  


    Applying the final touch

    Near the end of the process, if you use all the shellac in the pad and keep rubbing with the dry pad, it will burnish the surface and give it a nice soft glow. For a lower luster and extra protection, wait a day and then apply some paste wax with 0000 steel wool. Buff the wax with a soft cloth.

    Finish with steel wool and wax—paste wax adds a more even sheen and a nice feel to your project. Apply it with 0000 steel wool. When the wax appears hazy, buff it with a soft, clean cloth.