alcohol and restoring bad shellac finishes?

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martinola
Victor III
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Re: alcohol and restoring bad shellac finishes?

Post by martinola »

Lucius1958 wrote: Thu May 26, 2022 10:56 pm Did you touch up the decal by hand? If so, that is excellent work! :D

- Bill
After I stabilized the flaking shellac using alcohol and then a very thin flash coat of clear shellac, I used a very, very tiny brush with gold paint followed by the black outline. I had to work in the strongest light I could get using an optivisor and reading glasses. It took awhile to get the right balance of coffee so my hand wouldn't tremble too much. I don't know if I could do it today. I sure hope the old photos ca be rescued on this board, cause I'm realizing that it'll be a ton of work to fix my stuff. Thanks for the kind words!

Martin

VanEpsFan1914
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Re: alcohol and restoring bad shellac finishes?

Post by VanEpsFan1914 »

Let me grab some alcohol to re-amalgamate this antique Internet thread from 2012, but this stuff does the trick, for sure.

I recently purchased a 1921 Sessions "American No. 1" mantel clock to go with my phonographs, and it arrived completely crushed in shipping. A quick refund for me, and a question of a restoration for the clock--before I reassembled the pieces I took denatured alcohol and let it flow over the flat surfaces, rubbing with my finger to swirl the old finish up into the solvent, and then wiped it off. A squilgee would have been handy for this, or an old credit card. I took fresh alcohol and did another light wipe-over as a rinse, which seemed to re-activate the shellac remaining. As this clock appeared to be mahogany (I am not certain, though; Sessions made a number of cheaper clocks) the finish had soaked well into the pores of the wood and ended up making a nice, smooth finish with a satin gloss shine.

This had me wondering why I'd had such bad luck with a vctrola I worked on, then I remembered--reamalgamating the victrola was done with it sitting upright on its four legs, because it was running & playing records while I was working on it as I am a lazy repairman. The thing I should've done was disassemble the machine & put it over on its side, then work with the alcohol directly over the wood where I would be able to move it around. If I'd had those skills then I would have built a nicer finish on my victrola, but hey. At least I had practice to learn the skills & the victrola still works.

JohnM
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Re: alcohol and restoring bad shellac finishes?

Post by JohnM »

Retrograde wrote: Sat Feb 04, 2012 9:26 am when I first read the title of this thread I thought it was some sort of public service announcement :coffee:

re-amalgamation is what most people call the process. It works best to re-flow the existing shellac with some fresh shellac added to the denatured alcohol. The results are so-so, not exactly the factory look. This of course depends on the skill of the restorer.
Actually, it’s just ‘amalgamation’.
"All of us have a place in history. Mine is clouds." Richard Brautigan

User avatar
AZ*
Victor IV
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Re: alcohol and restoring bad shellac finishes?

Post by AZ* »

JohnM wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 6:43 am Actually, it’s just ‘amalgamation’.
Hmm...

Eric Reiss calls it reamalgamation in his Compleat Talking Machine book. But what does he know? He misspells "complete." :lol:
Best regards ... AZ*

Hoodoo
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Re: alcohol and restoring bad shellac finishes?

Post by Hoodoo »

I asked my question about the decal earlier because I was about to restore the finish on my Columbia BII.
In the before picture you can see that someone had recoated the oak case with a mahogany coloured finish. Luckily, it was shellac, and it came off easily with denatured alcohol (methyl hydrate) and 0000 steel wool and a rag or two. For the nooks and crannies, I used a fine artist’s brush and more alcohol.
I had to take the finish right off because of the mahogany-dyed recoat, and I refinished it with fresh shellac, applied in the French polish method. I thin the shellac quite a bit, but it does not take long to build up a finish to the desired gloss and there is no chance of runs or lumps when done this way.
The non-crank side base edge piece was missing as you can sort of see in the before photo, so I had to fabricate that, but other than on the new piece, I did not use sandpaper at all, just the 0000 steel wool.
The front decal cleaned up very nicely.
I did not rub on it at all, I just dabbed gently at it with an alcohol-soaked cloth.
The side decal did not work out quite as well, but I will try the gold paint method described above.
Hoodoo
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Hoodoo
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Re: alcohol and restoring bad shellac finishes?

Post by Hoodoo »

Not BII, just BI.
Oops.

JerryVan
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Re: alcohol and restoring bad shellac finishes?

Post by JerryVan »

Nice work! BII or BI, they're both wonderful machines to have!

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