Shellac Flakes Preparation and Application


  • In a glass or plastic (don’t use metal) container slightly larger than the desired quantity, add alcohol and shellac flakes. Work at 16°C or more, as colder temperatures will slow down the dilution process.

  • Grinding the shellac flakes first (e.g. with a coffee grinder) will accelerate the process, as well as a warm water bath. Do not heat the mixture directly.

  • Mix every 15-30 minutes until you obtain a homogeneous mixture. Shellac should be completely dissolved.

  • Even after complete dissolution, you may notice traces of sediments in the mixture. It is recommended to filter the diluted shellac with a paint filter, cheesecloth or a piece of white cotton.

  • Diluted Shellac can be stored for several months in a cool place away from direct light.


  • Once the surface is ready to finish, apply a coat of shellac using a quality varnish brush, pad, or spray gun.

  • Apply in thin coats and allow the surface to dry for 30-45 minutes between applications. Sand with 320-400 grit sandpaper between coats and remove all dust before applying a new coat.

  • Apply additional coats until you obtain the desired finish .

  • To obtain a brighter, harder or softer varnish, it is possible to add natural resins during the preparation phase, such as rosin or dammar.

Alcohol/Shellac Ratio and Quantity Requirements

The two tables below will allow you to determine the required quantities of alcohol and shellac based on the intended use and the total volume needed for a specific project.

Table #1: Shellac cut based on intended use

Intended Use Cut
Pre-stain sealer 1/2 pound
Fluid Varnish (very easy to apply) 1 pound
Medium Varnish (common use) 2 pounds
Thick Varnish (first coat or to seal wood knots) 3 pounds

Table #2: Alcohol and Shellac proportions based on cut

Alcohol Volume 1 Pound Cut 2 Pound Cut 3 Pound Cut
1 cup (236 ml) 1 ounce (28 g) 2 ounces (56 g) 3 ounces (85 g)
1 quart (946 ml) 4 ounces (113 g) 8 ounces (226 g) 12 ounces (340 g)
1 gallon (3.78 L) 16 ounces (453 g) 32 ounces (907 g) 48 ounces (1.36 kg)

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