Step 1: Test

dabbing spot with alcohol
Photo: Webb Chappell
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Dee tested the finish by dabbing an inconspicuous spot with denatured alcohol on a cotton swab; this makes shellac tacky in about 30 seconds. If the finish doesn't dissolve, it's probably varnish or polyurethane, which requires stripping.
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    Tools List

    • Artist's Brush
      Artist's Brush

    Shopping List

    1. Naphtha
    Cleans the old finish

    2. Denatured alcohol
    Softens old shellac and thins the new

    3. Artist's brush
    Natural bristles only

    4. Shellac flakes
    Also available premixed

    5. Cotton cloth

    6. Alcohol-soluble wood dye
    Darkens shellac to match old finish

    7. Tinted furniture wax
    Blends into crevices better than clear wax