Finishing the Dresser Chest

For more information on Finishes, see our beginner site Common Woodworking.

From  my Journal Tuesday 7th February 2017

Finishing the Dresser Chest of Drawers

The finish just flows on and flows out with this brush. l love it!

Applying the finish for many woodworkers is often a daunting task ahead but with the right brush and technique it need not be. With the video series concluded and posted we made a finishing video for everyone to follow to conclude the series at the end with.

It was good to conclude the dresser. I know if I don’t say which brush I used people might not realise how special the one I used and recommend is. Brushes are at their best after they have been used for a while it’s true, but these brushes arrive near perfect right from the start and because shellac is such a forgiving finish once you understand how it works, if an odd hair does escape from the mass, it doesn’t present much of a problem as I might with say polyurethane. Shellac become brittle once cured and the hair usually pops right off with a fingernail edge. A few years ago, perhaps 2007, I bought some brushes for instrument finishing from Joel and Tools for working wood. Not cheap but the very best.

Perfect density and spring, feathered in from the manufacturers so no ‘breaking in’ needed either, rarely any loose hairs. What more can a craftsman ask for?

I used them for the special varnish we use for violins and cellos. I also keep this 2” one for shellac. It knows no equal—so soft yet thickly stocked—it loads well and distributes beautifully because of it fineness. It feathers out the finish flawlessly.

The projecting side hairs (showing here) are all my fault. After cleaning and storing I wasn’t careful. After finishing the applications I cleaned the brush and washed in warm soapy water and they regained perfect alignment along the long axis of the brush again.

I hope Joel forgives me and that he has a goodly stock of them because every furniture maker should own at least one of these 2” brushes.

18 thoughts on “Finishing the Dresser Chest”

  1. Chest looks very nice, Paul. I look forward to the episodes as you build it. Would you share the name of this brush you love so well?

    1. Hi!

      I Would believe :

      BT&C Black Bristle Paint Brushes with Stainless Ferrules

      But must have Paul confirm that info…

      1. No, they are not these, they are the finishing brushes (UK made) for shellac and lacquers. Code # is GT-SHEBRU.XX at

          1. They are still there. Still favoured, but on large and wide surfaces I use the larger brush.

      2. BT&C brushes are but I recall Joel telling the ones I’m talking about are English made but that may have changed. Rest assured, Joel carries good brushes either way.

  2. They look like beautiful brushes but at this time I can’t afford to pay attention never mind paying $50 for a brush. However, it’s on my must items.

    Thanks Paul

  3. $50 + shipping to the UK starts to make this brush a bit ion the pricey side. A bit of Googling brought up selling …
    Corona Ox-Sash (11459) Paint Brush – 2″ at £18.98
    Corona St. Thomas Ox-ear Hair Blend (4460) Paint Brush – 2″ at £16.91
    Linzer Golden Ox Flat Sash Paint Brush (2462) – 2″ at £5.56
    Have you tried any of these?

    1. I haven’t tried any of those but none of them are pure ox hair, they all contain bristle in some ratio so they won’t give the finish you want. Classic Hand Tools carry the Gramercy ox brush that Paul is using. It is expensive but so is ox hair.



  4. It seems a wonderfull brush, but the duty costs (an extra 1/3 over the total price) make it prohibit to buy it from the USA. Is there any other way to purchase this in europe?

    Thank you, regards

    1. There are other options for brushing shellac. Royal Langnickel do a set of 3 Hake (white hair) or a set of 3 Squirrel (I think) brown hair brushes. Very cheap but they can tend to shed a bit too many hairs. They work though. Don’t use above a 1 lb cut – many, many coats done over a couple of days, for full gloss. Flatten and polish after 2 weeks drying.
      The European violin making suppliers usually stock two brush types: Ox and squirrel hair. Ox is usually reserved for their thicker oil varnish although it does work nicely with shellac. They tend to use squirrel for their spirit (shellac) varnishes. Not quite as expensive as the Gramercy, not cheap though. The Gramercy appears to pack more hairs in, which will give a greater reservoir.
      Some folk swear by the synthetic golden taklon brushes. I hated them.

  5. Dear Paul,
    Ive been trying to get hold of “Liberon sanding sealer” for some time here in Cyprus but it seems I cant find it anywhere, nor can it be sent via amazon or by mail in general. I’ve also tried to find an alternative to shellac but the only thing I can come up with is to order shellac flakes and mix it with d-alcohol or maybe if I can just use Danish oil as an alternative??.
    Today however, at a hardware shop i’ve come across a sealer I think and would like to ask you if you can please have a look at this link and tell me your opinion


    1. It is better to mix your own shellac ideally, Tassos. It’s just a question of mixing and you can mix thin or thick consistencies by mixing less denatured alcohol to begin with and then thin as necessary-thin for initial coat and then thicker for subsequent coats. The product you have sent details of is not a sealer as such though it may do that too. It’s more a commercial grain filler. Not one I would use and not one and the same although some grain fillers do work as a sealer.

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