I use a 1 lb cut for everything although towards the end I'll thin it to a 1/2 lb cut. I don't glaze. If you want it really glossy you'll have to either glaze or go through the grits and polishing compounds.
Shellac comes in a rather large number of different types. Way more than commonly available in the UK. I buy specialist types from Shellac.net. The raw form being sticklac (never even seen it). I have seedlac - which is pretty close and gives a lot of colour. The waxy shellacs (dry form) seem to store for decades. My huge bag of seedlac dates from 1990, it dissolves and dries just as it did when first purchased. I haven't had buttons that long but have used buttons that were around 15 years old and they were perfectly fine. The problem seems to be the more refined dewaxed, the pale or platina types. I've had them 'go off' (esterification) over the course of 4 or 5 years even though they were kept in dry and dark conditions.
Pre-mixed types will degrade, usually in a matter of months. Again I suspect it depends on the type and quite possibly the Lb cut. A thick waxy shellac in the bottle might last years, a thin cut of blonde may have difficulty reaching a hard finish even though it was mixed fresh a few months earlier. A finish chemist advised me to use Isopropyl rather than ethanol as the solvent stating that it would result in a much longer shelf life. I don't know how true that is. I have some I mixed with Isopropyl a couple of years ago and it still seems OK. Unfortunately I didn't use a control to compare it with.
I still have flaked and stick shellac from when I was 17. It was dirt cheap then and I over bought (in fact my dad bought it so I under bought). I am now in my fifties and the shellac is perfectly usable. I cannot see why it should degrade really if stored airtight.
In our terms if you keep flakes in a black bag they basically store indefinitely. if you have made some up, then try to keep it in an opaque container and if you can draw out the air and it should last a few years. A good way to do this is with one of the little hand vacuum pumps.
1 pierce the lid with a drawing pin sized thing
2 cut little strips of inner tube about 10mm x 5mm and stick them onto the outside of the lid over the hole, making sure the tape is not sealing the sides of the rubber.
3 put the lid on and then use the little hand pump to get the air out and Bob's a kitchen fitter
.I didn't know there was so much to Shellac. I bought some Rustins and another brand. I'd really like to have a go at making my own so I can do different types, clocks etc in differing colours. I noticed too, Will on The Repair Shop used powders to mix with his shellac to obtain the right colour. He called them pigments. Perhaps that's another question for another day.
Everyone, I sincerely appreciate the replies and tables, links, heads up on tool shops and shellacs etc. It is very kind of you and you've made me feel very welcome. Thank you
This spreadsheet could be useful. It will save you doing the calculations for shellac dilution. Personally I would not use meths if I have an alternative.
Around me methyl alcohol is about £7 for 12 litres View attachment 92836
Forget the purple Meths (it no longer contains any meths). Buy Bio ethanol from B& screw or Isopropyl, which is commonly available on ebay. You want the strong stuff, often given as being around 98%. 5 L should last you a long time unless you are running a commercial operation.
I'm a "keep it simple" bloke. I have a plastic bag of blonde dewaxed well over a year old now that isnt even sealed. I mix a pinch with methylated spirits in a jam jar. Swirl it occasionally until its all melted. The jam jar lid isnt air tight any more, but that will stay liquid for a few months at least. The results are pretty good.
+1 for the Weald and Download Museum an incredible enterprise, they also have one of the largest timber based buildings in the country, the Downland gridshell.
I'll definitely look out Amberley though, I don't know that.
I have the Repair Shop book, a Christmas present, it is an interesting overview but very light on detail. In Will's section the main reference to polishing just describes a French polish in which he dissolves flakes in meths, though maybe this just because they thinks that's what people will have access to.