April 22, 2022

Putting Shellac Over Wax

Can I put Shellac over wax?

Wax is often meant to be used as a final topcoat. It is not advisable to use any substance, let alone Shellac, over wax. Doing so will be a waste of Shellac because the finish will not stick to the wax. Wax is generally very slippery and doesn’t harden when dry, making it quite impossible for the Shellac to settle on top of the wax. 

Can I apply Shellac over Beeswax?

Beeswax will produce a shiny top layer that is not sturdy enough for the wax to stick onto. It is not a good idea to add any finish to Beeswax. It is best to use Beeswax as a topcoat instead. The ideal action would be to dissolve the wax. Use a sufficient amount of mineral spirit to remove most of the Beeswax before applying Shellac to the surface. It is best to try this on a small surface before covering the entire surface.

Can you put a finish over paste wax?

It is not possible to put any finish over paste wax. Paste wax is particularly slippery. It produces a very thin and shiny topcoat penetrating deep into the wood. This feature means it will be difficult for the finish to settle on the paste wax. It is best to use a combination of mineral spirits to remove the wax first.

Can you lacquer over Beeswax?

Adding lacquer to a Beeswax finished surface will cause you more significant problems down the line. Many consumers who took this course of action experienced very long drying times. The lacquer will not quickly settle over the wax finish. You can wait for months before seeing any semblance of a dry coating. When the product is dry, it will likely begin to succumb to blistering and peeling. You will have to strip the entire wooden surface to fix this issue. It would help if you stayed away from any types of wax finishes.

Can you lacquer over wax?

No, you cannot add lacquer over wax. Wax is not conducive for any finishes to be placed on it. The finish is very thin and slippery, making it impossible for the lacquer to settle on a waxed surface. The finish will likely not dry for many months and will soon begin to peel off. This deterioration can become accelerated by children or pets in the household. 

Can you french polish over wax

French polishing is a fancy word for adding a shellac finish. This process is not advisable because the method adds a very high gloss and slippery finish to the wood. Wood that has already been waxed will have a high level of shine that won’t dry quickly. This means that if you add french polish to a waxed surface, there is a good chance you will experience peeling in the future. The application process is not simple and requires a high level of craftsmanship. It is, therefore, best for beginners to clean the wood thoroughly with mineral spirits. It would be best if you managed to get most of the wax out with mineral spirits, but not entirely. This process will at least get the wood to bond well, even with some wax residue.

How to remove wax from Shellac

Many consumers who buy general Shellac opt to remove the wax from the product. High levels of wax can lead to adhesive problems. De-waxing the Shellac will require having the wax settle. 

  1. You will start by pouring some out into a container. Place this container on the shelf and leave it there for a few days. 
  2. This timeline should allow the wax in the Shellac to settle at the bottom. This is the simplest way to isolate the wax, given that it is heavier than Shellac. 
  3. From this position, you should be able to quickly clear the topcoat layer of Shellac without disturbing the wax. 
  4. You can use a turkey baster or spoon to dispense the Shellac into another container. 
  5. You can repeat this process with the new container to further strain the Shellac of wax. 

Shellac on cherry

When applying a coat of Shellac to cherry wood, ensure that you only add a thin coat. This amount of Shellac should allow you to sand it lightly without damaging the shine of the finish. You will need to work towards having a consistent color that also seals the wood.

the best finish over Shellac

Polyurethane is one of the top options that you can use to seal Shellac. Shellac on its works as a strong sealer, but you can always enhance its strength by adding a topcoat finish with a polyurethane. The benefit of Polyurethane is that if you use a water-based compound, this will match nicely with dewaxed Shellac. The two are compatible, allowing for increased protection, meaning you can use it as an “adapter” layer. Remember that it is best to use “dewaxed” Shellac because Shellac with wax is a lousy adhesive.

Wax vs Shellac

General hardware store Shellac often comes with a significant amount of wax in the product. This makes the Shellac more challenging to apply. For this reason, many consumers take the time to dewax their Shellac before using it. Using Shellac that has wax will not allow you to add another coat on top of any other sealant. It is not adaptable and needs to be Dewaxed first. 

Dewaxed Shellac over waxed Shellac

Waxed Shellac offers additional gloss that is preferred for aesthetic furniture. Dewaxed Shellac is best for adaptable finishes like Polyurethane to be added on top. These can add extra strength to the finish and help prevent dust and scratches from accumulating on the wooden surface. 

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