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ABC123

Alternative for shellac resin in 1704 spirit varnish?

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I am wanting to make a spirit varnish. However, I do not want to use shellac due to ethical reasons etc etc etc.....

What alternative resin could I use in the recipe?

1. 180gr ground Shellac
2. 30gr ground Sandarac.
3. 30gr Elemi.
4. 15ml Spike lavender oil.
5. Spirit

Unfortunately, shellac is clearly the main ingredient here, so maybe I would need a totally different recipe, instead of a simple substitute?

Yesterday I made a very simple spirit varnish of just alcohol of colophony. I applied it on a scrap piece of wood, and it was rather pretty, but I am sure there are better options for avoiding shellac.

I did attempt to try out a french polishing technique with this though, and it stuck like glue after 3 seconds and ripped the finish off! Is there no substitute for shellac to use with the french polishing technique? If not, a standard shellac-free spirit varnish is fine, but just thought I would ask while I am at it!

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2 hours ago, David Burgess said:

Would you be willing to explain the ethical concerns?

Strict vegan, I guess? Shellac is considered "animal" product by vegans.

Then it is hopeless, I guess there were at least few bugs or worms in the corn used to make the alcohol as well...

You can try some simple oil varnish... linseed oil and resin.

BTW, isn't crude oil also animal product at least partially? So no mineral spirits or other solvents.

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Any product one can think of involves the death and destruction of living creatures. Just getting a product to market kills thousands of animals and insects. Cutting a tree for tone wood takes away the habitat of animals and insects. Growing anything in farm fields destroys the ecosystem and pollutes the land with chemicals. 
 

there is no ethical way to exist in this world without destroying living creatures.

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1 hour ago, HoGo said:

Strict vegan, I guess? Shellac is considered "animal" product by vegans.

 

I didn't realize that. I thought it only applied to things which are eaten.

Can they not even use manure to fertilize their plants?

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43 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

I didn't realize that. I thought it only applied to things which are eaten.

Can they not even use manure to fertilize their plants?

There are many 'veganic' farmers who fertilise with cover crops (particularly leguminous ones) and rock powders.

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2 hours ago, Okawbow said:

there is no ethical way to exist in this world without destroying living creatures.

This is a true, but useless statement. In spite of the fact that no one can reach zero impact, there are large differences in the amount of nature that has to be commandeered to support predominantly plant-based vs. animal based diets. It's not clear that the minimal suffering of animals occurs at zero consumption though.

In the case of shellac, the product isn't directly harvested from bugs, it's taken from their secretions on trees. That seems like an ethical mixed bag - there's surely some bycatch, but it seems likely that the bugs also benefit from cultivation. I think you'd have to look at the whole product lifecycle to decide whether something like tung oil, or polyurethane for that matter, was better.

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36 minutes ago, duane88 said:

Yes, shellac is used in many foods. If I remember correctly, one use has been to coat cereals so they resist "getting soggy in milk" right away, and another use has been to coat M&Ms so the chocolate doesn't "melt in your hand".

So what should one do about "rescue animals" which are natural predators"? Feed them beets, carrots, or celery (none of which I have found to be successful so far), and let them starve to death?

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In my experience, there is no alcohol soluble natural resin that can replace shellac. It's fast drying, slow dissolving (which is good when applying subsequent layers), tough, a nature product.. etc.

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16 hours ago, Jim Bress said:

Given the OP's restrictions, 100% tung oil may be a good option.

You spelt tongue wrong.:D What kind of critters do they use for that?

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22 hours ago, Jim Bress said:

Given the OP's restrictions, 100% tung oil may be a good option.

 

6 hours ago, Bill Yacey said:

You spelt tongue wrong.:D What kind of critters do they use for that?

No, spelled right. This is the stuff I use.  I've been using tung oil for close to 40 years on "percussion instruments".  I wouldn't use it on a violin, but it could work on a solid body guitar.  It's tuff, doesn't chip on impact, sweat resistant, and easy to repair (if desired).  It doesn't have the optical qualities we're looking for in a varnish.  However I think the OP is used to sacrificing for his/her belief.
 

5525C6A1-7656-4D88-915B-2F0BBFCE3C22.thumb.jpeg.19a6e78387f14c51f2edb9f9b2c0f792.jpeg

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Jim, do you have any experience with coloring or tinting the tung oil?

I agree that it hardens into a rather tough and solvent-resistant film, without needing the addition of resins. (My varnishing bench is coated with this, as well as my wife's solid-body guitar)

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No, I've never tried.  It's opaque enough that wouldn't want to add any pigments.  I think staining or oxidizing (wet chemistry) the wood prior to application would work better.  

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4 hours ago, Jim Bress said:

 

No, spelled right. This is the stuff I use.  I've been using tung oil for close to 40 years on "percussion instruments".  I wouldn't use it on a violin, but it could work on a solid body guitar.  It's tuff, doesn't chip on impact, sweat resistant, and easy to repair (if desired).  It doesn't have the optical qualities we're looking for in a varnish.  However I think the OP is used to sacrificing for his/her belief.
 

5525C6A1-7656-4D88-915B-2F0BBFCE3C22.thumb.jpeg.19a6e78387f14c51f2edb9f9b2c0f792.jpeg

Joking; just a play on words.

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Hi,

I want to try to prevent this thread turning into a philosophical debate on ethics etc etc... that isn’t the part that is important. The part for me that matters is just that I don’t want to use shellac, the only reason I gave a simple reason was just so everybody wasn’t thinking that it may be a reason that could be avoided for me. I am not trying to force or preach any beliefs on anyone, I just wanted some advice on what spirit varnishes I could use without shellac.

 

I know about tung oil, I have used it on guitars and furniture in the past with great results, but I was after a more film finish without synthetic resins.

Is there any direction anyone could give me even for experimenting?

If it is the wax part of shellac that is important, could I include soy/carnauba or whatever wax into the mixture?

 

Edited by ABC123

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I have read that a damar based varnish can be good, and in the past was often used on furniture. It is a simple mixture of damar and alcohol.

Could someone tell me which resins do what, such as which resins are used for hardening, softening, fast drying, slow drying etc etc.

If I was to use wax to try to simulate the wax in shellac, what amount would I use to start of with?

 

I am just after some guidelines on where to start experimenting!

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On 1/13/2020 at 12:07 PM, ABC123 said:

I know about tung oil, I have used it on guitars and furniture in the past with great results, but I was after a more film finish without synthetic resins.

 

Tung oil can be applied to form a substantially thick and durable film.

Yes, it needs to be heat-treated to "self-level", and dry to a gloss finish.

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