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Expert's Corner — denatured

TIP: Shellac Thinner

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The thinner and clear-up solvent you should use with shellac is denatured alcohol. This is ethanol, the same alcohol that is included in beer, wine and liquors. But it is made poisonous so it can be sold without liquor taxes. Sometimes you’ll see methanol (methyl alcohol) sold in paint stores. Methanol works fine for thinning shellac, but it is quite toxic if you are around it for a long time breathing the vapors. So it isn’t a good idea to use methanol unless you are working with a good exhaust. Isopropyl rubbing alcohol is no good for thinning shellac because...

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TIP: Wash Off Stripper Wax

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Directions on cans of paint-and-varnish remover instruct to “neutralize” the stripper as a final step. This is misleading and often leads to finishing problems. The instruction is misleading because there is nothing in paint strippers that needs to be neutralized. “Neutralizing” refers to acids and bases, not solvents. What needs to be done with all paint strippers sold in metal cans is remove the wax they contain. Manufacturers add wax to these products to retard evaporation so the stripper remains in contact with the paint or finish longer. This wax will retard the drying and weaken the bonding of most...

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