How to Use Shellac & Spirit Polish in Wood Finishing

Shellac and spirit polish are essentially the same products, but mixed and applied differently. Both enhance a natural wood grain and leave a soft luster. Commonly, you apply shellac by painting or brushing the shellac onto the wood. The terms spirit polish, spit polish and french polish usually refer to applying diluted shellac with a cloth by wiping it onto the wood. The methods produce similar finishes, with a spirit polish having a softer luster and hand-finished look.

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Shellac and spirit polish bring out the grain of the wood and give a soft luster..

Brush

Step 1

Mix the shellac or shellac chips with denatured alcohol in a glass container according to the manufacturer's directions. Use the mixing instructions for brushing on the shellac. If you are using shellac chips, mix the shellac at least 12 hours in advance of use to give the chips plenty of time to dissolve completely.

Step 2

Dip the brush in the shellac, coating about one-half the length of the bristles.

Step 3

Brush a thin coat of shellac on to the wood, following the direction of the grain. Apply the shellac in long, even strokes, slightly overlapping each stroke.

Step 4

Wait at least two hours for the shellac to dry.

Step 5

Repeat Steps 2 to 4 until you obtain the desired finish.

Polish

Step 1

Mix the shellac or shellac chips with denatured alcohol in a glass container according to the manufacturer's directions. Use the mixing instructions for wiping on the shellac or using it as a polish. If you are using shellac chips, mix the shellac at least 12 hours in advance of use to give the chips plenty of time to dissolve completely.

Step 2

Dip the bottom of a clean, soft cotton cloth square into the shellac, just enough to moisten it. Wipe off any excess using the edge of the container.

Step 3

Wipe the shellac on to the wood, following the grain of the wood. Use long, even strokes, overlapping each stroke slightly as you coat the entire surface of the wood.

Step 4

Wait at least two hours for the coat of shellac to dry.

Step 5

Repeat Steps 2 to 4 until you reach the desired finish.