1

I’m finishing pine with amber dewaxed shellac (with a brush). I was hoping it would impart to the pieces the same color as the flakes after a few coats, but it’s still looking too yellow for my taste after 4-5 coats.

Is there anything I can add to the next shellac coats to make it darker?

I’ve read it’s possible to obtain very dark shellac by dissolving audio records (33s, 45s) from the 1940s, but that seems like a waste. Amber was the darkest flake I could purchase.

  • Gorgeous looking pine BTW! – Graphus Jan 3 at 7:01
  • Know what made the old audio records dark? Maybe you could do the same thing... – martineau Jan 10 at 16:47
2

I’m finishing pine with amber dewaxed shellac (with a brush). I was hoping it would impart to the pieces the same color as the flakes after a few coats, but it’s still looking too yellow for my taste after 4-5 coats.

FFR this is a general rule for shellac, the flakes are always going to be darker than the finish looks on a lighter wood unless it is built up very heavily.

Is there anything I can add to the next shellac coats to make it darker?

Yes, a darker grade of shellac or an alcohol-based stain/dye*. There are numerous woodworking stains based on shellac but also leatherworking colours will work. These can be used to tint shellac as well as to colour wood directly.

It's worth picking up more than the one colour you think you need as it often takes a bit of this and a bit of that to get just the right colour. And remember to test on scrap before committing to the workpiece.

A word of caution using alcohol-based dyes: they're very concentrated so a little goes a long way!

I’ve read it’s possible to obtain very dark shellac by dissolving audio records (33s, 45s) from the 1940s, but that seems like a waste.

It does seem a waste but records old enough (78s) are still abundant in some places and any that are cracked, or badly chipped, are no longer playable so this is actually an ideal way to recycle them.

The only problem with this method is it produces black polish, and you won't generally get a pleasant colour by just adding black to a lighter colour of finish, generally you want to add a darker brown or something like that. Here, adding black might actually yield a greenish colour (sort of like olive drab)!


*You can also colour shellac with powdered pigments but this is trickier to do well and the resulting finish will mask the wood more than a dye-based colourant will, basically very much like oil-based stains and "gel stain" often do.

  • Great answer! I'll try it out and report. Re: powdered pigment. I see items described as "aniline dyes / water stains" (LV), which are claimed to: "Unlike pigmented stains, these do not mask the natural grain and texture of the wood". Would you still categorize those in your powdered pigment category? – ww_init_js Jan 5 at 23:19
  • oops. Missed the time limit to edit comment. I incorrectly thought that pigment and dye were synonyms and so I deduced the difficulty to apply was due to the powder form. – ww_init_js Jan 5 at 23:28
  • 1
    Dyes are dyes, pigments are pigments. The simplest way of describing the difference is that dyes are coloured molecules (so sub-microscopic in size) and pigments are coloured compounds, basically a fine coloured powder. All dyes are transparent because of their very tiny size. Some pigments are opaque, others more transparent (but rarely approaching the great transparency of dyes) so by their nature they obscure the features of wood more — this is why waterbased or alcohol-based stains give clearer results than oil stain or "gel stain" (pigmented varnish) and why many pros prefer them. – Graphus Jan 6 at 5:25
  • For those interested. It's not guaranteed whether the aniline dyes I mentioned earlier will dissolve well in alcohol (or if the color will be accurate). I've been recommended a different kind by customer support, specifically for alcohol. – ww_init_js Jan 8 at 1:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.