Shellac and Lacquer On Rosewood

      One finisher's S.O.P. for finishing Rosewood. May 21, 2009

I am refinishing a 60's rosewood table (veneer) and was planning to sand to 220, wipe with acetone to get the oil off the surface, add two coats of shellac barrier coat, sand, and then shellac with 400 then spray NC Lacquer. Will the finish adhere to the surface? Is that the best way to finish rosewood? I haven't finished rosewood before. I heard its very oily.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor Y:
What you've heard is true as to its oiliness, especially "Brazilian rosewood". In the old days it was first treated with a 5% solution of phosphoric acid to bring the natural oils and other aluminous matter to the surface and then wiped off with methanol wood spirits a few times before applying a finish to insure best adhesion of lacquers to the wood.

In the 70-80's baker and other high end furniture makers used nitro-modified vinyl sealer from guardsman coatings. Although that was good it did not stop the nitro-lacquer overcoats from breaking down for long periods of time - within 10 to 20 years it would be cracking and other things also.

Your idea of using wax free shellac (blonde shellac) is about as good as you can get though other de-waxed such as orange or button. It will work - you'll have to dewax it again through a Buchner funnel and with vacuum and fine chemistry filter and appropriate vacuum flask meant for this operation. The cost is about $60 to set this method up. Also, Zinnser has there wax free seal coat shellac finish which for most things is good enough for this. I'll leave it up to you what you decide to use. One coat of 2 lb. cut will suffice for the first coat - no more! Shellac is not meant to build with, only to act in this case as a sealer of contaminates (barrier coat) and for best adhesion to the oily surface being applied to.

My normal schedule for finishing open grain Brazilian rosewood is:
One coat of 2 lb blonde shellac - let dry overnight.
One coat 50/50 nitro modified vinly sealer.
Let dry for four hours.
Sand vinyl 320 to smooth.
First coat bar top lacquer (gloss).
Second coat - scuff 600.
Final coat BT lacquer.

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