I just finished applying shellac to a few cabinets for my 57 Westerner. One of the cabinets, the one over the kitchen is original. The kitchen cabinet and the wardrobe were rebuilt from scratch. But I had to match the color of the new ones to the old cabinet, which had more patina so it took a few more coats of the amber than 3 as suggested by Mobiltec and a few others. I think a total of 5 or 6 and one clear coat. Anyway, when I was doing the large sides of the wardrobe the shellac looked somewhat blotchy where the shellac overlapped. I also think the plywood just took it differently then the solid faces of the cabinets, which look fine. I finally got the sides to look decent but not amazing. I see so many of you produce walls and ceilings that look like art but I am terrified I am going to screw up my new panels. I've been practicing with techniques but still not satisfied. How do you all avoid the blotch? Is there another product that I can use that will match the old shellac? I drove 100s of miles to get this ash plywood and can not afford to buy more, which is why I'm so scared of proceeding before I understand what I may be doing wrong. Perhaps photos of your walls and ceilings so I can compare? Thanks!!
I usually experiment on old panels side by side with scraps from new panels. I’ve found that I often have to add a slight tint (mixiol) to the amber shellac to get a good match. I also experiment with stains before shellac if the color difference is dramatic:
Blotch on old panels may be a sign that there is polyurethane. Did you rub denatured alcohol on a small part of the old wood? If it gets soft and tacky it’s shellac. If nothing happens, it’s poly.
This is an example of old wood that was sanded. I thought the old water stain was removed, yet the shellac brought it back:
If you sanded down the old wood before applying shellac and you have blotches, you may have a hint of old finish is still there.
The more coats of shellac you put on, the smoother and more consistent the finish. But too many coats will obscure the wood grain.
Last Edit: Jan 24, 2020 5:01:42 GMT -8 by nccamper
Are you sure the original finish was shellac? Some trailers had another type of finish. My 57 Deluxe had ash but a clear coat.
If the shellac is overlapping and blotching in that area, the shellac itself may be too thick. It should be fairly thin and dry rapidly. I try to feather the brush strokes very thin as I go. In other words, paint a strip, then wipe the brush at the edges. Get some thin color at the edges, then quickly paint another strip, feathering as you go. Painting shellac is a quick thing. If you try to paint over the existing thicker color, it will get sticky. It's hard to explain.
Also, apply your finish to scrap pieces of plywood until you are satisfied with the look. A first coat sealer may help the blotches, too.
Thanks to both of you for the replies! It's the new wood that I had problems with and only the 1/4 inch ash plywood. The original kitchen cabinet turned out perfect! The new solid wood looks pretty good too but the new plywood on the sides of the wardrobe did not. I put more layers on and a clear coat and now it's ok, but just ok. I am definitely experimenting now. Hadn't thought about using a stain but I am going to try it and see how that looks. I used the non-waxed shellac as a base on a scrap and it looks pretty good, not blotchy but a little lighter after a few coats. I think I can live with the lighter panels and darker cabinets if that is what I have to do to make it look good. The guys at the wood working shop said sometimes the quality of the plywood veneers or even the type of wood itself can cause the blotchiness. They recommended applying the non-waxed shellac thinned to 1 pound as a base first, and to experiment with the amber to thin it just right to where I can get it on with out it being to thick or too thin. Geez I had no idea shellac could be this tricky, on large surfaces at least. I guess we will see what happens. It's scary being my first time doing this and I really appreciate this forum and all the help available! I will try to post a pic or two.