FRETS.COM Product Review

Good shellac in a can?
Zinsser's Patent Shellac
© Frank Ford, 7/24/01; Photos by FF

I don't have a lot to say about this product, except that it's something I never thought I'd see. For as long as I've been working on instruments, it's been axiomatic that you have to make up your own shellac and that the stuff you get from the paint store is simply worthless because it "dries" to a gummy mess.

Times have changed.

Simple as that. Zinsser has introduced a patent (pending) formulation of our old friend, and it seems to be everything that's claimed on the side of the can, namely, that it is straight shellac, and it's guaranteed to stay fresh for at least three years. Now, that's a big deal, because until now, we've had to make up our own and have assumed it would lose its ideal working characteristics after a few months in solution.

So, here's the can:

And, here's the what's inside:

I tried the stuff, and it works. It dries clear and hard, and it even works well for French polishing. You can't ask for much more than that.

On the front of the can, there's a claim that it's guaranteed under all clear wood finishes. Sure enough, that's the same claim we shellac advocates have been making for years. Shellac is indeed the ideal barrier coat, intermediate adhesion coat over and under just about any finish, and the ideal sealer for wood.

All in all, you can't beat good old shellac, and now you can buy it conveniently packaged at the paint store. Or, at least  you can have the paint store order it for you - none of my local paint shops actually stock this great product.  They do, however, stock the old crummy regular Zinsser Bull's Eye Shellac that is useful for painting walls or whatever.  STAY AWAY FROM THE REGULAR LIQUID SHELLAC.

Naturally, many of us will still mix our own for special working characteristics and color, but it's great to know it's available this way.

Oh yes, don't forget that it's a patent product, so it may not be available under any other brand name. I suspect the other stuff will still be on the shelves, and will still be WORTHLESS to us luthier-types.

Update, 2006:

Some time ago Zinsser added a new product to their lineup - a premixed French polish.  I have not tried Zinsser's French Polish, but I have heard some good reports about it. . .

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