Shellac as a Sealer?

Article - August 4, 2008

This week’s question from from Ron in Chicago who writes:

I have a table top that I stained with oil based stain and I want to use Endro Precat Lacquer but the directions say that I have to use a pre-cat sealer. Can I use a 1LB cut shellac as a seal coat or do I have to buy the special pre-cat sealer?

And here is my response:
Hey Ron. It is nearly always a safer bet going with the sealer recommended by the manufacturer. But, that doesn’t mean you have to. It also doesn’t mean you will get bad results using shellac as a sealer. Shellac really is like a universal binder. I like to think of it as a “clean slate”. A nice light coat of dewaxed shellac is a suitable sealer coat for pretty much any finish. I have used shellac as a sealer for pre-cat lacquer many times with great results.

Just to be safe, it’s always a good idea when trying some new combination, to test adhesion. Get a sample board, give it the sealer coat, then try the enduro finish. Let it completely dry and test for adhesion. You can do a few things for this. Try scraping it off with your fingernail. Then try putting tape on the surface and see if the top layer comes up when you pull the tape off. If either happens, the finish did not adhere properly and the shellac isn’t a good option for that topcoat. I have yet to see that happen though. Good luck!

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