My famous box got bashed about through the years of display and handling. Actually, apart from being dropped on concrete twice, it’s stood up very well, such is shellac. The coats have not worn through anywhere despite being well handled by visitors, but regardless, repairing and restoring shellac is very quick and easy.
Steel wool comes in grades of coarseness and we generally avoid coarse except for stripping back a finish with a solvent. Usually shellac needs no such treatment as shellac is readily dissolved by the repairing layers of shellac coats you apply. The fine level steel wool we use for repairing and not stripping is classified by a series of four 0000’s marked on the packet. This is the finest level we might need. We also look for long strands rather than pads. In this case the steel wool is rolled as you can see. The long strands enable us to pull off six inches or so that we then fold. The wool lasts longer and is less prone to crumblling this way. Liberon is my provider of choice. It has only the lightest amount of oil, just enough to inhibit rust and it doesn’t affect the finishes I apply.
Rub with the grain where possible. Steel wool is different than abrasive as it cuts the surface rather than abrades it with particulate. It also creates less abrasive particles too. With a few rubs the surface is ready for coating. I did the whole of the outside and the rim of the box.
The 1″ hake brush places the finish nicely. Long even strokes overlapping the wet edges ensures order and structure and I know exactly where I am up to. It takes only a minute. Leave for half an hour to fully dry and check the sheen for any flat spots or lack of lustre. Apply another coat if you feel it needs it. I usually buff out the surface with steel wool but leave it another half hour if I do decide to. That way the shellac is fully cured and hard enough for steel wool buffing. After that added coat I apply wax applied with the same steel wool I just used. Leave for ½ an hour and buff with a soft (yellow) duster.
I hang my steel wool because between me and others in my shop that use it it is not hanging long enough to start rusting.