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Shellac or Poly

Hi - Is Shellac the only non toxic sealer out there for wood?  I stained some kitchen cabinets with Minwax water base and wanted to seal them.  I'm also interested in doing this process for some hardwood furniture I plan on buying.  I am looking for just a sealer, nothing too glossy or platic looking.   I would prefer to go non toxic, so IF shellac is the way to go, please advise some brands and/or other sealants.  Thank you.

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Posted 2013-04-25T22:58:29+0000  by susanford susanford

Hi Susanford, welcome back. Good question, as it’s always good to work with non-toxic products.


Shellac is a sealer and is non-toxic. It’s a great product and has been use in woodworking for decades.  Shellac does turn a slight amber color with age, unlike some other finishes.


You can use products by Rust-Oleum  shellac  or take the Rust-Oleum  Varathane. These both are great products.


Another quality brand is MixWax Polycrylic, dries clear, easy to use. You can choose the finish, gloss, Simi-gloss, and satin.


If you’re set on using all non-toxic products, there are several manufactures out there, which produce high quality products.  As you look at each product, compare their material safety data sheet. This will provide you with important information that can help you choose which product is right for you.

Posted 2013-04-25T23:45:22+0000  by Ken_HD_OC




There is also another product for your consideration: Minwax Universal Water Based Sanding Sealer. Like shellac, sanding sealer goes on after the stain. It seals the wood and leaves the grain nicely filled with a very smooth finish after sanding with fine sandpaper. It can be top coated with just about  any product, water or oil based urethane, lacquer, shellac, natural varnishes, etc.


Shellac is probably the most natural of all those products named, but in truth, I would not like to ingest any of them. However, once the solvents have flashed off, they can all be considered non-toxic and food safe.


Many woodworkers like to use de-waxed shellac under urethane. Its slight amber tone  helps  lessen that plastic look that urethane alone gives.  Shellac alone is not the most durable finish. It is not overly water resistant and alcoholic drinks set down on it will dissolve it! However, shellac was used in ages past as a finish coat with paste wax on top of it.


The spray cans of Zinsser's shellac sold at Home Depot is a de-waxed shellac. The regular brushing version of Zinsser's shellac is not. Urethanes and lacquers are not compatible with regular shellac due to the contained wax. Zinsser also makes a brushing version of its de-waxed shellac under the name "SealCoat",. Unfortunately Home Depot does not sell this product in the stores..


I recently worked in a rehab of a mansion where the hand hewn and pegged wood floors were fnished with a dark oil stain, shellac and paste wax finish. They were beautiful and totally in keeping with the Tudor Style of the building.


Hope this has helped

Posted 2013-04-26T04:14:11+0000  by ordjen
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