What Comes First, Stain or Shellac?

What Comes First, Stain or Shellac?

In a followup to his question from eZine 312’s Q&A section on how many coats of stain he should apply to the bureau he’s building, this reader wondered:

Would it be advisable to use a shellac over Minwax?, or should I have used the shellac first, then Minwax? – Reg Smith

Rob Johnstone: The answer depends on the type of wood you are using. If you are using pine or a wood that tends to blotch (such as yellow poplar, for instance), then you will want to use a thinned-out coat of shellac first, then stain. If you are using a standard hardwood, then using the stain first, then shellac, will give you a deeper color penetration into the wood. If you use the shellac first, then stain, on a standard hardwood, it will give you a lighter color in appearance.

Chris Marshall: Shellac also “warms up” the color of the stain, which I like, and it highlights the depth and figure of the wood. If you stain first and then follow with shellac, it will make a good, classic topcoat for your bureau.

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