Welcome to our Community!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Who's Online (0)

Related Discussions

Today's Birthday


BYO Shellac Finish

Anyone out there like to use shellac? I've used it on other woodworking projects and really like it but I've only used lacquer for guitars.

Thanks in advance for any advice.



  • vanmalmsteenvanmalmsteen Diamond Springs ,CANew Latch Drom F, Paris swing, Altamira m30d , Altimira Mod M
    Posts: 279

    I’ll be keeping my eye on this thread. I stripped all the finish off the front and back of my Paris swing and wanted to do a French polish. The project kind of stalled after I sanded all the finish it off. Maybe someone will chime in, can see if it’s a complex project or not

  • Posts: 3,293

    I stripped my guitar and finished it with Tru-Oil. It's a great way to finish a guitar for a diy project. Turned out great, sounds great.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • crookedpinkycrookedpinky Glasgow✭✭✭✭ Alex Bishop D Hole, Altamira MF01, Godefroy Maruejouls
    Posts: 811

    I'm currently building a guitar and using French polish to finish it. First off I used some polish which was a bit old and dark. I stripped off the first few coats and have started applying a newer French polish. It's going ok but I'm waiting on some lint free rags coming before I progress any further.

    I have to say it's not an easy process and I suspect it'll take quite a few coats to build up a nice finish but I prefer it to varnish or nitro.

    always learning
  • BonesBones Moderator
    edited June 2020 Posts: 3,111

    Cool, keep us posted on the project Crook. Post some pics??? Where did you get the shellac? Did you use flakes or pre-mixed? thx

    Thanks Buco, I'll check that out.

  • edited June 2020 Posts: 3,293

    Yeah Bones. Tru-Oil was originally formulated for gun stocks but found it's way into luthiery and for some it's their favorite finish. Easy to work with, depending on what you're trying to achieve you can do as little as 3 coats or as much as 20-30. Doesn't take forever to set either, some say depending on your environment, you can do a next coat after 3-4 hours. I followed Craig's advice @Craig Bumgarner and waited 24 hours between coats. I did 5 or 6 coats and turned it out somewhere in between matte and glossy finish. More like a deep sheen in the wood, the grain really popped out. It kinda doesn't sit on the top of the wood like the lacquer, you feel the wood but still protects the guitar. Finally at no time I felt like I was way over my head, it's very forgiving for a first timer like myself. I did take my time to do a proper homework though.

    Oh the only bummer is it's not available to order in CA (even though general consensus is that it's much less toxic then a lot of other finishes), I sent a buddy in the Bay area a bottle.

    vanmalmsteenBonesBill Da Costa Williams
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • crookedpinkycrookedpinky Glasgow✭✭✭✭ Alex Bishop D Hole, Altamira MF01, Godefroy Maruejouls
    Posts: 811

    Hi Bones. I got pre disolved shellac, I decided that was easier than buying shellac flakes and disolving them myself. I'll do some pics later. Like Buco said it doesn't feel like it sits on top of the wood but it feels like part of the wood.

    My Alex Bishop guitar has a French polish finish and the only downside is that it's not as hard as other finishes. Given the life of gypsy guitar it now has lots of dings and small dents which probably woukdn't have happened with a poly finish or varnish.

    My grandmother was a French polisher by trade so in some ways I'm reconnecting with my past. I have to say that I thought that French polishing was originally used for furniture rather than gunstocks. That's a new one to me.

    always learning
  • edited June 2020 Posts: 3,293

    @crookedpinky that's for Tru-Oil finish.

    You're right, I should refer to it in that last post, it might be confusing.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,111

    Ok thanks for all the info guys.

    Crooked, what brand of shellac did you get? I only see one brand available at my local hardware store.

  • crookedpinkycrookedpinky Glasgow✭✭✭✭ Alex Bishop D Hole, Altamira MF01, Godefroy Maruejouls
    Posts: 811

    Hi Bones. The brand is Barrentine white French polish. I got it from a UK supplier.

    always learning
  • ChrisMartinChrisMartin Shellharbour NSW Australia✭✭ Di Mauro x2, Petrarca, Hoyer, Epiphone x2, Burns x2, & Paul Beuscher resonator.
    Posts: 676

    Some wires got crossed there, I think the mention of Tru-Oil was intended to explain an alternative to Shellac (aka French Polish) rahter than a particular brand. We have (at least) three continents divided by a common language, most members on here are probably in the USA and Canada. Crookedpinky is in Britain, which is where I am from originally but now in Australia. I only mention this as of course when anyone refers to brand names they need to be aware that brand may not be available in other countries. While Americans a proud of their right to bear arms, guns in general are far less common in both Britain and Australia, and therefore gun oil is not usually a household item either.

    However, back to the question.

    I used to dabble in antiques and furniture restoration many years ago and had some training in French Polishing. Yes it is worth learning and can give the best looking finish if done right. Yes it not too hard wearing and could be much easier to damage on a guitar than even nitro, never mind the modern synthetics. Having said that once the technique is mastered it is far easier to touch in chips and repair scratches.

    I have used it in the past and would do again, but then I am not a hard working pro musician hauling my guitar around to gigs on the road every day.

Sign In or Register to comment.
Home  |  Forum  |  Blog  |  Contact  |  206-528-9873
The Premier Gypsy Jazz Marketplace
Banner Adverts
Sell Your Guitar
© 2021, all rights reserved worldwide.
Software: Kryptronic eCommerce, Copyright 1999-2021 Kryptronic, Inc. Exec Time: 0.049485 Seconds Memory Usage: 3.45079 Megabytes