The Mysterious Case of the Exploding Shellac Can
Remember how your mom taught you never to eat anything out of a bulging tin can? You know, the botulism warning? Turns out it goes the same for shellac as well — sort of.
This afternoon I found myself in the FWW workshop during my lunch break. My aim was to use some clear shellac purchased this morning at the local hardware store to finish some walnut and maple picture frame molding I put together last night. I set the can down on my finishing table, broke out a flathead screwdriver and proceeded to pry off the lid when, WHAM, the top shot off like a champagne cork and a shower of shellac droplets filled the air. After a short trip to the bathroom to throw out one of my now-contaminated contact lenses and use the emergency eyewash, I figured I might as well give the moldings a quick coat before setting off to purchase new lenses. Trouble was, my clear shellac was actually . . . brown!
No worries, I thought, I’m sure it’s just this particular brand. It’ll dry clear. So, now I’ve got some beautiful walnut moldings with maple stringing that’s been stained into oblivion. I’m hoping to use a small block plane to shave off the top layer and get back to clear maple but, who knows!
Oh, and the shellac can? Well, it was manufactured in June of 2005, making it well past its prime.
Has anyone out there had a similar experience with old shellac? If so, I’d be curious to hear about it in the comments section below. As for me, I’ll be cursing myself for at least as long as it takes me to plane through my stained maple so please, commiserate away! I could use the laugh.