Mixing shellac to use as a wood finish is as simple as mixing shellac flakes with denatured alcohol. But how much of each, and what is a 3 lb cut?
On this page you’ll find basic information on how to mix shellac, and the most common mixing ratios.
Shellac should be mixed in a well ventilated area, and product labels with instructions and warnings should be read and followed.
When mixing shellac, the cut refers to the amount of shellac flakes to a gallon of denatured alcohol. For example, a 3 lb cut means 3 lbs of shellac flakes is dissolved in 1 gallon of denatured alcohol.
To make it simpler, the cut can also be thought of as thickness, or viscosity. When you adjust the amount of shellac flakes added to a gallon of alcohol, the thickness of the mixture is also adjusted. This means a 1 or 2 lb cut is thinner, and a 3 or 4 lb cut is thicker.
Which Cut to Use
Finishers prefer different cuts depending on the project or technique of application. In general, a 2 lb cut or less is used as a sealer, while a 2 1/2 – 3 lb cut is used to build a shellac finish.
Waxed or De-waxed Shellac
Shellac flakes are available waxed (natural form) and de-waxed (wax removed). When using shellac as a sealer under paint or clear finishes, de-waxed shellac is recommended.
To mix shellac you’ll need these supplies:
- An empty can or jar with fitted lid
- Shellac flakes or buttons
- Denatured alcohol
How to Mix shellac
To mix a gallon (or smaller amounts) of shellac, use the chart below. It shows the 3 most common cuts, in 4 different amounts (cup, pint, quart, gallon).
Allow to dilute for a few hours, or overnight for larger quantities. To quicken the process, occasionally stir or shake. Once the mixture is liquefied, the shellac is ready to use for finishing.
Shellac Mixing Chart
The chart above is available to print or download a PDF copy.