Shellac Trouble after Using Steel Wool?

Shellac Trouble after Using Steel Wool?

This woodworker is using shellac. He rubs down the finish with 0000 steel wool to geta satin finish. But he keeps getting white marks on the shellac as he does this, especially near a spot where he used a smoother plane. What are these white marks?

Michael Dresdner: Rubbing with dry steel wool can leave a white hazy surface on any clear finish, and shellac is no exception. Your interests are better served by using a lubricant if you rub with fine steel wool. I prefer paste wax, but many other things work as well.

If the white marks are below the surface instead of on top, you may be experiencing areas of delamination.

For the record, all parts of any wood to be finished should be treated exactly the same. That means you can’t plane or scrape one section and sand another, nor can you sand different areas to different grits. Any of these activities will cause localized differences in how stain and finish react with the wood. Always prepare all areas the same – either plane them all, scrape them all, or sand them all to the same grit, but don’t mix and match.

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