Home » antique furniture » The wonders of shellac

The wonders of shellac

I finally learned my lesson with this mahogany radio/record player from the 1940’s.   Furniture of this era has a French Polish on it and tends to bleed when it is painted.  If you have ever tried to paint a light colour over mahogany, you know what I mean.  I forgot to take a before picture of this cabinet but it looked something like this one in an ad taken from Etsy:

radio ad

It was mahogany and in very good condition.  The previous owner had converted the inside already, so all I had to do was remove the cloth from the bottom section that housed the speaker. I painted a coating of shellac over the whole exterior.  Shellac acts as a barrier and will seal in what’s underneath.  You can’t put a coating of poly on a piece like this because it will not sit properly on the existing finish. And, if you didn’t already know this, shellac is also excellent for sealing in odours in smelly drawers.   I painted the exterior in Annie Sloan Old Ochre and for the first time, I had no bleed through.  Two coats gave excellent coverage.


The interior has been painted a deep teal.   I added the baskets on the bottom but someone could insert a wine rack if they wanted to.  I switched out the traditional Hepplewhite pulls for these trendy gold arrows.  They give it a more modern look.


When you open the doors, you get that extra pop of colour.




Cocktails, anyone?









2 thoughts on “The wonders of shellac

  1. Very pretty indeed! I have never used shellac before but an getting ready to use it on a kitchen table makeover so I clicked on this post to see what I could learn. Good to know about it sealing odor in smelly drawers, really good to know!

  2. Audra, one thing I forgot to add about shellac is that it is very drying especially on old wood. You may notice crackle when the paint dries. I find that if you sand it lightly after the first coat of paint then really push the paint into the cracked areas with the second coat, it will come our smooth.

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