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Choosing the right shellac polish

Shellac is a natural ingredient which, when added to industrial alcohol, produces French polish. A good mix for general polishing, which we stock, is a 2½ lb cut which in "old money" means 2½ lb of shellac to one gallon of alcohol (methylated spirits).

There are several types of shellac polish usually based on colour:

  • Garnet Brown Often used on traditional mahogany
  • Button Orange / golden Often used on traditional oak
  • Orange Orange Also known as standard polish
  • White Clear Bleached shellac for use on bare wood
  • Transparent Blonde dewaxed shellac, available in several grades
  • Black Ready made colour for "black piano" type finishing

Modified shellac polishes. The best types have a high proportion of shellac which is combined with other ingredients to give a harder wearing fine quality finish. Examples are

You can alter the colour of any shellac based polish by adding Finney’s Powder Spirit Stains to a little Clear Methylated Spirits before stirring into the polish. Colours of Powder Spirit Stains available:

  • Mahogany (traditional red)
  • Bismark Brown (red / brown)
  • Walnut (warm brown)
  • Oak (cold brown)
  • Black
  • Yellow
  • Red
  • Green
  • Blue

Finney’s Powder Spirit Stains are intermixable to produce intermediate or tinted shades e.g., yellow and red make orange or mahogany and red make modern mahogany.



Expert Advice, Simple Solutions, Beautiful Wood
All of the information offered in this Question and Answer format is given in good faith and no responsibility can be accepted for loss or damage however caused. Always carry out a test before proceeding and if in doubt, contact our free wood finishing Advice Line on 01246 261664 before starting.

Our range of wood finishing products has been developed over many years so that customers can be assured of compatibility and of achieving excellent results. The advice given here refers solely to the specific products mentioned and not to other manufacturers products which although may appear to be similar, invariably are not.