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Contributor
aluzi
Posts: 24
Registered: ‎02-24-2011
0

newbie mistake - can i gel stain over shellac?

http://community.woodmagazine.com/t5/Finishing-and-Refinishing/Kitchen-Cabinet-Help-for-Forum-Newbie...

 

I was trying to reference an already existing post before posting a new question, but I need furthur clarification. 

I'm hoping to use this finishing method to solve some multiple issues im having.

 

In the above link I wasn't sure about the SHELLAC issue.  For his specific project, his cabinets were most likely commercially prepared which translates to probably no shellac used during the finishing method.  For my project, I DEFINITELY have shellac.  Also, it sounds to me like this process was for applying OIL BASED STAIN, then shellac, then the gel stain, then the finish coat.  Could one still apply a gel-stain over the shellac/dye mixture? 

 

-  I used the transtint dye, disolved in denatured alcohol, mixed with zinzer's clear shellac and used the padding  

   technique to apply over raw poplar.

 

-  3 coats have been applied.

 

-  I've now sanded two smaller areas down to bare wood again, in attempts to "fix" my wood filler woes.

 

-  Between the forum here and getting scolded (actaully made fun of ) by my local woodworking store i am a little   

   confused and need some straight forward, step-by-step advice please.

 

PROBLEM I: I've two, smaller, bare areas that i already sanded down.  Should i re-mix my wood filler (grind my own sawdust or use commercially prepared), attempt to dye/stain the filler, then re-apply filler, then continue?

 

PROBLEM II: It sounds like it is allowable (from the above referenced post) to apply a gel stain over shellac to achieve a more uniform tone.  Would this also help solve my wood filler problem?  And at this point, can i still do this or will the already applied shellac pose a problem?  Again, i didn't use a de-waxed shellac, but i didn't stir the can either hoping the wax would've settled.

 

PROBLEM III: I do not wish to have a high gloss finish, but will accept it if its' a way to get this project done.

 

I was told by store rep that I could've just applied the transtint dye disolved in alcohol and applied directly to the poplar if i didn't want the shine.  Basically called me an idiot (to my husband and wouldnt even look at me) but since I'm already past that point, he suggested I apply diluted 50/50 poly (mineral spirits/poly) and use a white, scrubby pad he sold to me to take the shine off - but I always thought this would result in a white haze?

 

Its not that im doubting what the store rep said BUT given the fact that it was clear he didnt think i was deserving to know what the "good ol' boys club" know; i'm a little skeptical.  I think its easy for the seasoned craftsman to forget that newbies don't have the same common sense they do.  EVERYONE learns from TRIAL and ERROR, so your patience with me is appreciated.   

 

Step-by-step advice anyone?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honored Advisor
amateur60
Posts: 1,655
Registered: ‎10-24-2009
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Re: newbie mistake - can i gel stain over shellac?

[ Edited ]

First, no salesman should EVER make fun of a customer.  This is particularly true since he didn't have a clue about how to help you fix your situation. 

 

As I understand your situation, you chose to use a tinted shellac over bare wood.   Now it seems you have two problems.  One is general unevenness of the color.  It's not clear to me whether this is "blotching" due to the nature of poplar, or whether it is due to overlaps and uneven application of the tinted shellac.  Can you post a picture or two of your situation?  How much TransTint, and of what color, did you add to your shellac?   What shade are you looking to achieve? 

 

The salesman was right in that using dye directly on bare wood is easier to control, but as you note that's a "for next time" item, but he was wrong to suggest using dye dissolved in alcohol.  That's only feasible if you were spraying it--it dries too quickly otherwise.  

 

The second is a problem with some wood filler that has likely not accepted the color the same way as wood.  That's inevitable, and why the time to use wood filler is after wood has been dyed, stained or otherwise colored, and that color pretty much locked in by application of the first clear top coat.   But, in any event you have uneven color because you have sanded through the tinted shellac to get at the filler.  What is the filler filling? 

 

There likely is a solution, and it may well include some gel stain as a toner.  But before doing anything of that sort, it's probably better to clarify your problems and what you hope to achieve. Also, shellac can be rubbed to any sheen you desire it doesn't need to be gloss.  You can also apply a satin varnish over shellac, but since you haven't used dewaxed shellac, it should not be a polyurethane or waterborne varnish.  But,  that's pretty much something that you can decide about after the other issues have been resolved.  Patience, it can be worked out. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contributor
aluzi
Posts: 24
Registered: ‎02-24-2011
0

Re: newbie mistake - can i gel stain over shellac?

CIMG0072.jpgCIMG0073.jpg

 

First photo shows the bare spot i sanded down.

Second photo hopefully shows the overall results i have so far.

 

And sorry, let me clarify.  There is only a slightly uneven tone.  Its actually not too blotchy, and the rustic look will work nicely as contrast against a modernized kitchen.  The uneveness I'm referring to is all the wood filler I ridiculously smeared in larger areas of the poplar! 

 

I just figured *since it appears i will be backtracking*, was it possible to achieve a more even tone through the use of a gel stain, since I'm assuming im gonna have to backtrack anyways.

 

So the color eveness is situated on the bottom of my "wish list".

 

My bigger concern is how to fix the mess i've made of the wood filler area.  I used minwax wood filler in natural and like an idiot, smeared it on rather use it more sparingly (next time, I know better).

 

The salesman said i could try (as he laughed under his breath...) experimenting with dying my poplar sawdust, grinding it in a coffee grinder OR using a minwax wood putty he sold to me and try dying that.

Again, by this point i was tired of being laughed at so I just stopped asking questions.

 

As for the actual application,I actually think i did a good job.  I don't have much overlap or evaporation issues since others on this forum kindly directed me to WONDERFUL articles on the proper way to pad shellac and i DID practice on my scrap!

 

Oh, the transtint dye is dark walnut.  I wasn't too concerned about going too dark since I like the contrast of an almost black and white kitchen.

 

I'm just needing advice on how to proceed from where I'm at right now.

Contributor
aluzi
Posts: 24
Registered: ‎02-24-2011
0

Re: newbie mistake - can i gel stain over shellac?

I forgot - I also purchased the General Finishes gel stain in java.

I haven't applied it yet, but have it in my posession to use if anyone thinks it's a good idea to try?

Honored Advisor
kmealy
Posts: 2,182
Registered: ‎10-26-2009
0

Re: newbie mistake - can i gel stain over shellac?

I agree on this "customer service representative's" attitude.  Simply no excuse for this.

 

 

Some of the best wood finishers I know happen to be female.

Esteemed Advisor
71166
Posts: 2,459
Registered: ‎10-24-2009
0

Re: newbie mistake - can i gel stain over shellac?

Before the gel stain, I would try to get the sanded area by the filler a close color match.   In the area where the filler is I would try and sand just that part with a little coarser grit and try dying that area first blending it in, a little at a time.

 Then coat it with the shellac.    The gel stain will work on shellac as a glaze but it should be top coated.   Roly

Contributor
aluzi
Posts: 24
Registered: ‎02-24-2011
0

Re: newbie mistake - can i gel stain over shellac?

Thank you -

 

The General Finishes gel stain coated rather nicely.  And applied over the dye/shellac mixture, i now understand the depth it creates.   I STILL have a light spot on the area where i sanded and re-applied the dye but overall, its ok.

 

I was planning on "spot coating" my bare spot but wasn't sure if i could apply gel stain without creating a blending problem?

 

Finally the topcoat - I laughed when I read someone's (matt?) take on "polyeverything" to finish and that sentiment makes sense to me.  But what do i finish with then?  If i did use a poly then buff with the non-woven white scrubby to lessen the shine, then apply the wax would that give me reasonable finish? (by reasonable I mean enough wear n' tear protectant without the high, plastic shine?)  OR should i use a varnish? 

 

Sounds like i just need to seal the gel coat.

 

Contributor
aluzi
Posts: 24
Registered: ‎02-24-2011
0

Re: newbie mistake - can i gel stain over shellac?

CIMG0077.jpg

You can't see the bare spot im referring to because you only see it at certain angles,

but this will give a general idea of where I'm at.

 

And the wood isnt as flat & dark as it appears; the dye/shellac actually shows through with the poplar grain.

 

Esteemed Advisor
71166
Posts: 2,459
Registered: ‎10-24-2009
0

Re: newbie mistake - can i gel stain over shellac?

  I would just coat the gel with a varnish in the sheen that you want.    That way you will be done with it.   It will be easier to get the uniform sheen as long as you keep it mixed when applying.    Roly

Honored Advisor
Steve Mickley
Posts: 1,567
Registered: ‎10-21-2009
0

While your use of shellac…

[ Edited ]

 

Aluzi;

 

…is the result of a somewhat different objective than in the post to which you linked, the function of the gel stain will be the same.  It will work just fine.  But, let me work through your bullet points on the way to getting to your problems.  You wrote:

 

I used the Transtint dye, dissolved in denatured alcohol, mixed with Zinsser clear shellac and used the padding technique to apply over (unfinished) poplar.”;  and, “3 coats have been applied.

I have not gone back far enough in your various threads to determine where the decision to use TransTint dye mixed with shellac first arose.  While it has apparently given you much of what you wanted, it would not have been my suggested approach, especially given the multiple coats.  Faster and easier techniques for coloring poplar with dye are available, which I will get to below.  First, padding shellac is not a process in which we build “coats”.  The purpose of padding is to first apply and then refine (increase its sheen) the thinnest coat of shellac possible consistent with uniform coverage.  That aside, what you have actually done is to “tone” your shellac; you have tinted the finish so that the color is in the finish and not on/in the wood.  This technique is frequently used in commercial applications when it is neither practical nor economical to sort for color match in the wood.  It also has application among amateur and hobbyist woodworkers when it is necessary to adjust the color of a finish by adding tint to the finish.  One of the problems with this technique is illustrated by your next point:

 

I’ve now sanded two smaller areas down to bare wood again, in attempts to "fix" my wood filler woes.

While I understand your objective; specifically that the “filler” isn’t taking the color in the same way as the poplar, the fix you have selected has only added to your problem.  I wish you would have posted your question before you reached for the sandpaper.  For future purposes, when you are overcome with the urge to sand away a finish (any finish) call a friend to sit with you until the urge passes.  Sanding will almost always make things worse.  So, let’s see what we can do to go forward without having to go back to bare wood and begin again.  First, remove the filler.  These fillers all advertize that they are “stainable”, and they are.  But, they will never stain to look like the wood around them.  With the filler removed, and using a small brush, begin to carefully rebuild the tinted shellac finish in the area you sanded.  When the “void” is refilled lightly pad the area to unify the just patched areas.  While you are doing this apply the same finish (tinted shellac) to a small, sample poplar board that you can take with you to a different woodworking store (or send in the mail if you don’t have another woodworking store in your area).  You will be looking for a wax finisher’s stick that will match the color of your finish.  You will fill the defects with the colored wax then you will “burnish” the area around the defect to remove all of the wax that is not in the defect.  You are now prepared to move to the next step, hopefully with the defects successfully hidden. 

 

Between the forum here and getting scolded (actually made fun of) by my local woodworking store I am a little confused and need some straight forward, step-by-step advice please.

 

This is most unfortunate!  It says far more about the rep (and perhaps the store) than it does your struggle to solve a finishing problem.  For what it’s worth the advice this rep gave you (see below) is fraught with problems of it own.  Now, to your problems:

 

PROBLEM I: I've two, smaller, bare areas that I already sanded down.  Should I re-mix my wood filler (grind my own sawdust or use commercially prepared), attempt to dye/stain the filler, then re-apply filler, then continue?

No!  See above.  Sawdust filler basically simulated end-grain.  End grain, tinted prior to filling or stained after filling, introduced in the midst of face-grain will produce a visible glitch.  It is not any part of the solution to your problem.

 

PROBLEM II: It sounds like it is allowable (from the above referenced post) to apply a gel stain over shellac to achieve a more uniform tone.  Would this also help solve my wood filler problem?  And at this point, can I still do this or will the already applied shellac pose a problem?  Again, I didn't use de-waxed shellac, but I didn't stir the can either hoping the wax would've settled.

 

The use of gel stain as a “glaze” will still work; but, it may not completely solve your problem.  The replacement of the filler with the tinted wax finishers stick is still important to eliminate the problems created by using the filler.  While it is almost always desirable for amateur/hobbyist woodworkers to use de-waxed shellac, the wax in the shellac you have used will not prevent the use of the gel stain glaze.  I am more concerned with the nature of the “lubricant” you used when padding on the shellac finish.  Any mineral oil on the surface should be removed before you apply the glaze.  This is easily done by wiping the area with mineral spirits/paint thinner and shop towels.  Use plenty of paint thinner and turn to a clean face with each wipe.  After the oil has been removed lightly sand, using 220P open-coat sandpaper and a backer block.  Sand until the surface is uniformly dulled. 

 

You are now ready to apply your “glaze”.   Wipe on the gel stain and then lightly wipe it off again until you get the glaze look you want.  At this point, switch to a “dry brush” technique to “feather” the color intensity and remove coarse wipe marks.  (The “dry-brush technique” simply entails using the tips of a dry, natural bristle brush lightly manipulated over the surface to produce a “natural” look.  Hold a shop towel or soft cloth in your free hand and scrub the brush over it frequently to remove the gel stain picked-up from the surface.) 

 

PROBLEM III: I do not wish to have a high gloss finish, but will accept it if its' a way to get this project done.

This solution is very simple.  When the gel stain glaze has cured (8 to 12 hours) apply a couple of coats of varnish in the satin sheen (my suggestion in this application would be Pratt & Lambert #38 applied using the wipe-on varnish technique.

 

You conclude your sad experience with your local woodworking store by writing: 

 

I was told by store rep that I could've just applied the transtint dye dissolved in alcohol and applied directly to the poplar if I didn't want the shine.  Basically called me an idiot (to my husband and wouldn’t even look at me) but since I'm already past that point, he suggested I apply diluted 50/50 poly (mineral spirits/poly) and use a white, scrubby pad he sold to me to take the shine off - but I always thought this would result in a white haze?

 

It’s not that I’m doubting what the store rep said BUT given the fact that it was clear he didn’t think I was deserving to know what the "good ol' boys club" know; I’m a little skeptical.  I think it’s easy for the seasoned craftsman to forget that newbie’s don't have the same common sense they do.  EVERYONE learns from TRIAL and ERROR, so your patience with me is appreciated.

 

The store rep has revealed his own failure to understand in his attempt to put you in your place.  Transtint is a multi-solvent dye; it can be dissolved in water, alcohol or oil.  Add to this the fact that dyes have no “binder”; nothing to hold them in place after the solvent has evaporated.  This means that when solvent is reintroduced the dye will again dissolve.  So, if you dissolve the Transtint in alcohol and then apply a water-borne finish, the dye will be re-dissolved by the water in your finish and will bleed into the finish.  If you apply an oil based varnish or lacquer the same thing will occur.  Clearly, shellac as a topcoat would do the same.  Quite simply, no matter how you dissolve the Transtint to apply it to bare wood, as the rep suggested, any finish you apply will redisolve the dye.  Some solvents will re-dissolve the dye faster but all will re-dissolve the dye enough to create some bleeding of the color into the topcoat.  For this reason we never recommend the use of Transtint dye for anything other than a “toner” (which is what you did when you mixed the dye with shellac; the finish, shellac in this case, served as the “binder”).  Water-soluble dyes are available in a much wider range of colors and they cost significantly less.  So much less that I will hazard that the primary reason many retailers recommend Transtint dye so often has more to do with profit margin than it does an understanding of the properties of the two dyes.

 

With the use of water-soluble dye in mind, here is a link to a short article on giving poplar a “cherry finish”.  Any finish can be accomplished simply by altering the dye/gel stain combination.  Hopefully this will be useful for you on your next project…

 

Steve

 

 

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