Originally Posted by Nomack
"Your choice as to what type of protective topcoat/finish you want to use but if you want to run with the "Big Dogs" you use a dye instead of a stain, do the stock prep with a minimum of 400 grit wet/dry automotive paper, done dry especially on a laminated stock, use Shellac as a base coat and then finish with a semi-gloss lacquer."
So, George, forgive the continuing ignorance, your help is really invaluable.
But... are you saying, a layer of shellac (perhaps thinned with den alc?), followed by a dye, followed by lacquer?
My only experience with lacquer was spraying cars years ago (I grew up in a racing family). Do people brush on lacquer?
I was thinking a shellac, followed by a gel stain, followed by Formby's. But your chart indicates Formby's may be a very soft final finish. Surprising to me. I have a lot of experience with boat varnish (used to be a boat carpenter), but I can't imagine getting a perfect final overcoat with that stuff with a brush on something as roundabout as a rifle stock. How do you suggest applying a final overcoat? Is spraying the only real option for the harder finishes on a stock?
Edit: I'm working on a 50 year old walnut stock, sorry for the hijack....
I think maybe we need to go back to the fundamentals.
What follows are generalities and have a certain amount of "poetic license" before somebody gets bent out of shape on the titles used.
I would ask the reader to read what follows in it's entirety before selecting a specific sentence to either ask about or disagree with.
It's late and I am not a professional writer so what follows may go back an forth on specific subject.
After the stock prep you decide if you are going to color the bare wood. If so then dyes are far better then stains. Stains are simply thinned paints and a Gel Stain is fundamentally a less thinned paint. It is a Gel and you put it on bare wood and then go over it with a brush or rag etc. and create a "faux" grain and fiber piece of wood. Takes some artistic talent. You normally don't put in on over a finish albeit I suppose you could but I don't know why you would.
So after you color or not, depending on a number of reasons, you put a base coat of DEWAXED
Shellac for the reason I listed. Some folks like clear some folks like the amber tinted stuff.
The "cut" designation is how many pounds of the Shellac is added to 1 gallon of the solvent/carrier which for Shellac is alcohol.
If you are using the canned stuff then thinning it is a personal choice. It is formulated as what is known as a 2 lb cut which is pretty much the cut you would make if you were making Shellac directly from the flakes. If you do decide to thin it then pour some off into and glass jar that you can seal and mess with it there....testing on some scrap wood.
When you thin it you change the "cut" number, like maybe to a 1 lb cut which means it is thinner.
If you are using the rattle can version it is already thinned.
You can reach the same amount, from a thickness standpoint with a lower "cut"...simply need more coats.
Shellac is a finish and you can color any finish by using a dye while they are in the the liquid form but you cannot add color to it once they set up.
The hardness ratings are geometric in nature, not linear. If you look at the chart, Formby's is more robust then Tru-Oil® and TO is used by lots of DIY folks and they are satisfied with the protection it provides.
You then can stop and simply let the Shellac be the final finish and while it is as robust as say a number of aerosol varnishes....and remember that a "varnish" is nothing more then some type of base like a plant/vegetable oil (rare) or simulated plant/vegetable oil (common) with a resin added. No real mystique there once you understand the differences between a reactive and evaporative finish.
So you got a finish say as robust as a number of poly finishes from a wear and abrasive standpoint but is not as robust from a chemical contamination standpoint. A beer spilled on it can cause it to get soft temporarily.
So you add another topcoat/finish over the Shellac that has more protection against chemical contamination and in general will be harder and again the "hard" ratings are geometric not linear.
Could be a wiping varnish like Formby's or a Lacquer formulation.
If it is not Lacquer you pretty much decrease the benefits of the Shellac because all other finishes are not water clear. So unless you need the Shellac as a barrier coat cause the bare wood is contaminated not a lot of reasons to use it if you are going to use a reactive finish.
The harder the rating though the more prone to chipping the finish becomes.
There are brushing lacquers such as the MinWax brand which also has the same formula in a rattle can. There are rattle can lacquers such as Deft which was the standard back in the day. Just have to look around. Each, brushing vs spray has their own good and not so good standpoints. Unless you get into the newer waterborne stuff which right now has to be sprayed the solvent-borne lacquers have not changed in well over 70 years.
So let's pretend you are one of the "Big Dogs". Or you wanna be.
You got you a nice piece of wood.
You prep it really well and slurry sand it (another protocol and there is a sticky so I am NOT going to go into that here....you can look it up....not easy to do) and make the bare wood where the pores are less visible and filled with the same wood as the stock.
So now you decide whether to color that wood. Most "Big Dogs" don't. Want to leave the wood as Mother Nature made it. Most "Not Big Dogs" do cause they want virtually all the hard woods other then say Maple to look like walnut.
If you do decide to color it you use a dye not a stain unless it has really visible "foggy" sapwood areas as shown in one of the other posts on this thread in which case a Gel Stain is use fo hide those.
So now you want to maximize whatever qualities the wood has. Grain patterns, wood fibers, subtle colors.....whatever.
To do that you put on a base coat of Dewaxed Shellac. Most "Big Dogs" don't use a colored Shellac but some do in which case they use the Amber one. Again most of em don't want to change what Mother Nature made.
So now you got the Shellac on but the piece you are finishing is going to be exposed to a variety of chemicals including alcohol or somebody is going to put a hot metal pot on it or whatever and while the Shellac is robust it does not play well with those.
So you put on a finish that plays well with those "folks".
Bunch of em around but all but two are reactive finishes which mean they have a color cast to them. See this sticky. It take awhile to load cause it is a virus free PDF file but you can save to your local PC for future reference.
Well the "Big Dogs" don't want to add a color cast finish over a non color cast base coat cause if you do you don't allow the non color cast base coat to reach it's full potential so why bother with it. Non "Big Dogs" say adding the color cast adds "warmth" to the stock. Your choice.
So the "Big Dogs" use lacquer with is water clear. Won't add "warmth" though because of that.
The "Big Dog" approach in many cases is kinda frowned upon by many folks though cause they want the wood to look like walnut and if you don't color it to do that then won't be purty. Again your choice.
As an example. This is Beech stocked CZ452 that has been restored, not refinished. It has not been colored. Has the original toner topcoat put on by the factory to make it look more like walnut.
This is what it looked after being stripped.
Sure can tell it is not walnut.
This is what it looks like after it was restored to what Mother Nature made it to be.
It has been aged though.
As you can see no definitive separation of grain or fiber patterns and color sure does not look like walnut anymore.
"Big Dogs" say perfect.
"Non Big Dog" folks ie: rest of DIY folks, say...."Don't like that. Does not look like walnut. Little warmth. Kinda "flat" looking". Those "Big Dogs" don't have a clue and I did all the stuff they said and don't have an "oooh" "aaah" stock. Ain't listening to them anymore.
I don't think I can explain it any better then this. If you have a specific question then PM me so we can let this thread die with dignity.