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Saturday, March 27, 2010

How To Refinish a Table - Part 5 - The First Clear Coat

Part 4 was about applying stain.  Today we will finally do a clear coat, but it may not be the kind of clear coat you were thinking of.  The first coat on this table will be a spray coat of clear shellac.  Here's why...Silicone based waxes have become quite popular in recent years and contamination from silicone can cause havoc in a finish.  I posted a little bit about this very subject in my "Tip of the Week".  I am not going to take any chances of having blemishes in the finish from silicone contamination.  I have found that the easiest way to avoid problems is just to go ahead and spray a coat or 2 of shellac on the table before I apply my polyurethane.  The shellac will act as a barrier between the silicone and the poly.

Before I apply the shellac, I need to do some last minute prep work.  I need to make sure the stain is absolutely even.  Color has to be consistent.  No blotches.  No sticky spots.  No dust. It must be completely dry.  To be honest, I am never completely satisfied at this point, so I have learned a little trick. 

I simply wipe the surface down with a paper towel, dampened with mineral spirits.  Doing this may lighten the stain slightly, but I gladly trade the little bit of color for the benefits of doing this.  It will give me absoloutely even color and eliminate most of any dust that has accumulated while the stain was drying.

  This table had the original "speckled" stain that was so common for a while.  It had little tiny black paint specks underneath the clear coat.  The owner of the table wanted me to duplicate it. So I need to add some specks before the shellac goes on.  It is pretty easy. I just use a very small amount of black acryilic paint, a little water, and a small, stiff, artists brush.  I mix the water and the paint to make it a little soupy.  Then I dip the brush in the paint, and pull back the bristles with my thumb and release them to create sort of a misty spray.  It seems to work better if I hold the brush up fairly high and don't load the brush with too much paint.  Take your time and get your specks consitsent across the entire table.  Then let it dry completely.

Now it is time to spray the shellac.

I use the spray version because I don't want to disturb any silicone.  I just want to spray over the top of it, and seal it off from future coats.

Use nice even long strokes. Make sure the surface is covered completely.

Here is a little trick to avoid having to tape off edges.

I didn't want to get any shellac on the table skirt, so I held a piece of hardboard, just under the top to block the spray.  Any thin piece of wood or stiff cardboard will work.  It was a real time saver on this project.

When you are done spraying it should look like this.  Can you see some of my applied paint specks?
That's about all there is to applying shellac.  It dries fairly quickly.  If I want to apply a second coat I could do it right over the top of this coat within a couple of hours.  But before I apply polyurethane I will let the shellac cure completely, overnight.

We are closing in on finishing this project.  Next will be about applying polyurethane.  Poly can be a little tricky, so don't miss this next step.



marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Great tutorial. I just refinished my table, and it was a ton of work. It looks great, however I still wish I could have applied a third coat of stain to get it a little darker. You are right. The Poly is tricky, I can't wait to see how you do it. Hugs, Marty

Rory-The Greentiques Solution Guy said...

Hi There Marty! Yeah, not a lot of people are big fans of doing fine finishes with polyurethane. It is not a very forgiving finish at times, if you make certain mistakes. Laquer is much easier. But I use poly alot these days because it is so durable. My customers sometimes demand me using poly because it is such a tough finish. That's why I go to the trouble of applying it. Glad you stopped by. Thank you for your comment.