Friday, September 11, 2015

Things Are Getting Done!

Lots of work on the house today!

I am really focusing on trying to finish-up the front door project, and this means sealing the jamb with shellac-based BIN primer (a really wonderful product). Because I bought a can pretty much just for this, I decided that I should make the most of it, and fix up a few areas of the house that have been bothering me, and that were on the "To-Do Later" list.

Before I continue, I should take a brief moment to explain what I mean by "make the most of it". A lot of people don't understand shellac, or how it works, what it's made from, etc.

Basically, fresh-made shellac lasts maybe a WEEK max. Any longer than this, and you have to throw it out because if you apply it, it will not dry properly, and it will stay sticky/tacky. Shellac is a natural varnish that comes from a secretion of the Lac Beetle. The raw shellac is refined and most of the wax is removed, and then it is dissolved in alcohol for use. The dry shellac flakes last indefinitely, but once it's mixed, it needs to be used quickly.

Commercial "canned" shellac has additives to make it last longer (since it has to sit on the shelf for a while before it gets sold), but even with these additives, it doesn't last forever, and most cans also have expiry dates on them for this reason. Once you open the can, it's best if you use it up completely within a few days if you want to get the best results from it. If you have a can of BIN (shellac base) primer that you've kept, there's a good chance it's no longer usable. To test it, just brush some onto a board. If it's not touch-dry within 15 minutes, it's no good.

BIN primer is nothing more than ultra blonde shellac (very pale yellow) with a whole bunch of white pigment added to it. Shellac is normally orange, which is why BIN always ends up looking "off white" since it still has a touch of yellow tint left in it.

The best use for shellac based sealer is sealing knots, and for restoration work where you need to cover over stains, odours, or mildew. I usually always need it for covering knots in pine, and nothing else works better for this job. Failing to seal knots with BIN means that the knots will bleed through the paint, no matter how many coats you put on it.

Anyhow, I had a bunch of knots bleeding through the archway in the master bedroom, the casings on the basement door, as well as on one casing in the upstairs hallway, so those got BIN-sealed today, along with the door jamb. I also had 2 "corner stakes" from the baseboard that had yellowed quite a bit, so I sealed those too.

I also got in quite a productive mood (on top of the above work), and I decided to finish-up the area under the stairs on the main floor. I sanded all the drywall, cut and installed the door casings, as well as the mouldings under the stair runners. Now I'm patching nail holes, and I can run some Dap (acrylic silicone) on all the seams.

Hopefully I can update with a bunch of photos tomorrow or Sunday, but don't hold me to that.

Side note: This is not a sponsored post, but I wish it was!


  1. New things to learn about shellac! Who would have thought? Thanks!!!!

  2. Yeah, I wasted almost a whole gallon of store-bought shellac by not finishing the projects I was planning to in a timely manner. Bummer. Now I buy quarts, if I don't make the shellac myself, and use them right away.

    1. I am used to working with shellac when I have to repair, restore or (in worst scenarios) refinish antique clocks. I always make it fresh and use it the same day. Mine usually doesn't last more than a few days. The fun part with shellac is that it dries in minutes, and that all the coats melt together.

  3. Very informative...I did not know all this about shellac.