my new coffee table gets a good shellacking


It gets to mid week and I start thinking that I need to produce more than made beds, clothed children and lunches.

And so this week I looked around my house, packed with projects, and picked one to do.  Yesterday I decided to fix up the coffee table I found this year at hard rubbish.

It is a really excellent art deco timber one with a great diamond pattern in the top.  It is perfect with my club lounge (which I have silenly thanked Brunswick Brotherhood store for each day for about 16 years).  But my coffee table didn’t always look this fab.

When I found it it had blemishes … I did give it a wash and a light sand first off, thinking that I could just wax it, but then I decided that it had been shellacked in the past, and that it really needed some more love than wax to fix it up.

the table as it was in my lounge room for a number of weeks

the table as it was in my lounge room for a number of weeks

So with this project in mind, yesterday morning I headed down to the supermarket after school drop off and picked up some methylated spirits.  I already had the shellac flakes from Bunnings. And I got cracking.

First I mixed up the flakes and the metho.  I put them in a jar with a screw top lid and gave a hearty shake.

Then I got on with giving the table a much better sand.  I did the top pretty well (I did leave some old shellac on which I now regret – this is the story of my life, I always have to stop and say to myself  ‘do it properly Leanne’), the edges fully, I didn’t do the bottom shelf at all, and went back and did the outside of the legs properly (as when I applied the first coat of shellac they looked pretty average).

Then, I got out my trusty ‘shellac tampon’.  Lovely name I know.

This type of tampon consists of a piece of cotton wadding (I used some stuffing from a pillow) wrapped in sturdy cotton fabric (I used a square of old tablecloth) tied together with a rubber band (I used one of the kids hair ties).You use the tampon to apply the shellac.

All you do is make sure the shellac flakes have dissolved in the metho (keep shaking the jar if you are impatient like me) then dip your tampon in and rub the shellac onto the timber in a circular motion.  The idea is to rub the shellac into all the timber holes and fill them up and then it all gets shiny and gorgeous.

You can also add some oil into the  mix.  I get a little dish of oil (I just used sunflower oil from the kitchen) and use my finger to add a dab to the shellac soaked tampon.  Then rub. The more coats you do the shinier it gets.

And, by the time you have finished rubbing it is pretty much dry.  Being the impatient soul I am, about 15 minutes after I finished rubbing I moved the table back into the lounge to check out how good it looked!  I’ll leave it a while before putting stuff on it though.


I am so very happy with my new coffee table … thanks whoever chucked it out!

Note, if you do use shellac and get it all over your hands (like I do) don’t try to clean it with water, as it gets all hard and yucky.  Rub some oil on your hands and then put some metho on a cloth and use it to clean up.  It will save you DAYS of yellow fingers!i


  1. That looks so great! How ace. We are on the lookout for a coffee table – I will attempt to follow suit!


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