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Help with finishing a shellac French polish

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Leels1

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Hi,



Newbie here with a frustrating question!



I've French polished for the very first time recently on the lid of an old gramophone. It had a black water damage mark which I manged to get out with Oxalic acid and it looks OK.



I then added maybe 50/ 60 coats of shellac in several sessions, however where the stain was the grain must have lifted so I'm left with some pore marks that won't fill. Not a problem as such but I then used some rubbing compound which filled the pores with white stuff. Manged to use some stain to cover and they've largely been filled by the dye it but is it too late to get a smooth finish?



Also, when I look at it in the light it looks nice and shiny, but on close inspection it looks kind of cloudy and there are little swirls in it. Not the mirror like glossy effect I was after.



Is there anything I can do to solve the pore problem at this stage or is it too late?



Do I also need to do anything to the finish to smooth it and make it nice and shiny before applying some wax? Some pics attached in case then help!



Thanks



Lee
 

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mrpercysnodgrass

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The open grain looks very open unless the photo is exaggerating the grain! It might be that whatever caused the stain was sat there for a long time which can have this effect. The only solution is to cut the finish right back to the wood with 240g then there are a few options to fill the grain. You could apply a thixotropic grain filler,(Jenkins Grain Filler) this will probably fill most of the grain but not all. Secondly, apply several coats of sanding sealer, cutting back with 400g in-between coats. Alternatively you can fill the grain with fine pumice powder (FFF grade) make a solution of 80% alcohol 20% shellac apply this to a cotton rag (cotton dish cloths are best) dip the rag into the pumice or sprinkle the pumice over the surface and work it in with the rag. When the grain is full cut back with 400g and finish as you did before. I could not see the swirls you mentioned in the photos and I'm not sure what could have caused cloudiness! If you want to get the rubbing compound out of the pores use a little white spirit and scrub it out with a tooth brush ( use your wife's). To finish to a full gloss the best thing to use is Fiddes vita shine which is a wax impregnated with pumice. Alternatively you can use black T Cut it is quite a fine cutting compound so can be hard work but it does not leave a white deposit in the grain.
 

Leels1

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The open grain looks very open unless the photo is exaggerating the grain! It might be that whatever caused the stain was sat there for a long time which can have this effect. The only solution is to cut the finish right back to the wood with 240g then there are a few options to fill the grain. You could apply a thixotropic grain filler,(Jenkins Grain Filler) this will probably fill most of the grain but not all. Secondly, apply several coats of sanding sealer, cutting back with 400g in-between coats. Alternatively you can fill the grain with fine pumice powder (FFF grade) make a solution of 80% alcohol 20% shellac apply this to a cotton rag (cotton dish cloths are best) dip the rag into the pumice or sprinkle the pumice over the surface and work it in with the rag. When the grain is full cut back with 400g and finish as you did before. I could not see the swirls you mentioned in the photos and I'm not sure what could have caused cloudiness! If you want to get the rubbing compound out of the pores use a little white spirit and scrub it out with a tooth brush ( use your wife's). To finish to a full gloss the best thing to use is Fiddes vita shine which is a wax impregnated with pumice. Alternatively you can use black T Cut it is quite a fine cutting compound so can be hard work but it does not leave a white deposit in the grain.
Thanks for the reply!
The pores aren’t as bad as it looks on the pics so I think I’ll leave them for now unless it gets too annoying!!
When you look at the top they’re perpendicular to the pics I too so look ok really- don’t think I can face another week of shellacing the top.

As for the cloudiness I think I put the wax on before it had fully cured so I’ve stripped the wax off and added a few more coats of shellac which seems to have worked.

I’ll leave it a week and use the T Cut. I’d used burnishing cream but I’m pretty sure it’s T Cut in a fancy bottle, (and more expensive!) not thought of that solution and it’ll cover some of the white too.

I tried the toothbrush method (she wasn’t happy), tiny bush, stippling brush too and it didn’t really work well but I’m quite happy with the result.

It’s strange stuff shellac. It seems ready to “finish” in a few hours but I guess needs the week or so to properly cure.

Attached pic is that the stain looked like beforehand.
 

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Leels1

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With a rubber, using the oil too but sparingly. The last coats seem to have helped. I’m just going to leave it a week to harden now. I think I was a bit ambitious polishing with wax 48 hours after the last coat of shellac!
 

Leels1

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Do you think the t cut/ Fiddes will get the feint lines out that the rubber had left, or do I need to lightly sand, then Fiddes and a final wax over?
 

mrpercysnodgrass

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The T cut/Vitashine will not get the lines out, you have to straighten these out as you are polishing before the polish hardens. Also you need to stop using the oil for the last several rubbers otherwise you will get a reaction with the wax.
 

Fergie 307

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I can't see the clouding either, but this can sometimes be down to the temperature being too cold or to much humidity when you are applying it. As you get to the end of the process you need to run in straight lines with the grain, and quite a bit of pressure. This will ensure you don't have swirls. I tend to leave it for a week or so when finished before doing anything else to it, probably a bit OTT, but you certainly need to leave it several days to cure properly
 

Leels1

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Thanks both for your replies! I think the finish seems to look OK now. Maybe I'm expecting too much, but when I look at the finish at an angle it looks smooth and clear- almost like a pool of water but then if I look close it seems there are a few lines- might just be the wood underneath as it feels smooth too.

I stopped using the oil a few sessions back and used lines to go with the grain. The rubber seems a little sticky but it's almost corrected itself as it's dried up.

I managed to get the clouding away by using some white spirit, the wax went, and then applied 5/6 more shellac coats. Will leave it a few more days then try the t-cut and a final wax. Hoping that'll do the trick.
 

TRITON

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How much sanding are you doing ?, from your initial sealer coats ?.
That requires a lot and i do mean a lot of sanding at a fine grit.

Also at the end of X amount of coats of transparent in a day, going over it with a rubber containing just meths helps remove swirl marks. Next day its back to sanding at a fair degree. If you dont sand to a fair degree between coats, the marks transfer through. You need to get rid of them before applying the next set of coats.

I've got a tiny tiny pot of polishing oil, but was taught to use a small finger to place a tiny dot on the rubber and only if you really need to. I've probably had that 10ml for 20 years, and i think theres 9ml left :LOL:

Store your rubbers in an old jam jar(tight fitting lid) with a few drops of meths to stop it drying out overnight.
 

Leels1

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Hi Triton. Probably not enough sanding... I maybe sanded 3 times with 400 grit. Must have applied 50+ coats in several sessions. I fear that I didn't sand enough and got some of the lines trapped several coats down.

That said, I only applied in circular/ figure of 8 motions early on, then switched to the straight lines. It's hard to get a good pic of it with the right reflection but I think it looks OK now.

Fearful of sanding in too many lines that I won't get back out. Should I start with a 600 grit and take to 1000, or just leave it & use some pumice and then wax.
 

Fergie 307

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As Triton says at the end of your days session, once it starts to grab. Use a rubber with just meths, and almost dry. This should help get rid of any swirls. Looking at the latest pictures that is looking really nice. And just think, you will only get better with practice!
 

Leels1

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Thanks for all your help. I've decided to leave as it is now, did dull the finish slightly with some 0000 wirewool which has helped it blend in with the rest of the machine. I went for a "sympathetic" restoration and only stripped the top of the lid. The rest I cut back slightly and left the original finish and did a repolish. This is a very rare machine so wanted as much originality as poss.

(the lid top is all the same colour - there's just some reflection!)
 

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