March 4, 2013
I have to thank the guys at Woodsmith on PBS for this great technique. It needs to be shared with the world.
Since shellac is a universal sealer, and will stick to anything, you can put it right on over wet oil, and it will seal the oil in. Pretty amazing. Hand rubbed oil finishes are the deepest and most beautiful, but take a lot of time. But with shellac in the mix, you can do a complete finish in an hour or so.
First, rub on boiled linseed oil or whatever oil finish you want to use. Wipe off the excess. The oil really brings out the color and grain of the wood better than any other finish. Immediately you can pad on shellac, and it dries right up, and seals the oil in. Pad on as much shellac as you want to get the gloss you want, or switch to some other top coat, and you’re done. The oil will go ahead and cure under the shellac over the next few days, but you can use your item right away, it is done. I finished one of my mountain dulcimers in an hour with 1) boiled linseed oil, 2) shellac padded on until I got tired of it, 3) wax. It looks great!
This technique is the best way to finish dulcimer hammers, or any small item. The only tools needed are some clean rags.