What is Dewaxed Shellac + When to Use It

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Shellac is a natural resin that comes from a lac bug, and it’s also one of the popular finishes for furniture. But what about the dewaxed shellac? Is it a different finish? And when should you use it? 

Let’s find out as our woodworkers explain all you need to know about this wood sealant. Keep reading!

What is the Dewaxed Form of Shellac and When It's Best Applied For?

1. Use it For Wood Pieces Not Exposed to Alcohol, Water, or General Wear and Tear

Shellac that’s dewaxed is a great option for wood pieces that won’t be exposed to alcohol, water, or general wear and tear. 

If you focus more on functionality and design than practicality, this shellac can be used as a sealant. However, you need to know that this type of sealant will not completely seal the wood pieces after staining it.

Although its dewaxed form can help prevent water absorption, it does not have the same properties as authentic sealants such as polyurethane or lacquer.

wooden table

When using this shellac, keep in mind its functions. Apart from water, it isn’t alcohol-resistant. So if you use products containing small amounts of alcohol, such as polishing or cleaning agents, the dewaxed sealant couldn’t protect your wood pieces from these elements.

Since shellac dewax isn’t very durable, you shouldn’t use it on pieces you plan to use a lot. Instead, it can be utilized on decorative pieces such as mirrors, wall art, end tables, and nightstands. 

2. Use it as a Pre-Sealant

Dewax-processed shellac can be used best as a pre-sealant in natural wood grain augmentation. Most types of sealants can’t retain the glow or bold shine that can make a piece stand out. 

But with this dewaxed pre-sealant, you can enhance your wood’s natural grain.

applying shellac finish on wood

After application, sand it down and coat it with a polyurethane or lacquer sealant for durability. This will make the surface resistant to alcohol and water damage and general wear and tear. 

(But how many coats of polyurethane do you need to apply? Read this guide!)

When you use dewaxed and other sealant properties, you can expect to find beautiful and durable wood pieces, and this is an effective way to make your pieces stand out.

3. Apply Between Layers of Stain and Wood Finish

Another thing dewaxed can be applied between wood stain layers or finish. This is an incredibly easy and effective way to achieve a certain type of color, but it must be handled carefully.

For instance, you’re not yet ready to fill in wood gaps but want to apply a wood finish or stain. If you proceed to stain the wood in this kind of finish, the deeper layers would most likely absorb more stain or finish, leading to the workpiece becoming darker.

(Here’s a complete guide on how to stain wood darker.)

applying shellac on wooden boxes

But you can prevent this by using dewaxed pre-sealant–acting as a barrier between the wood layers you’re staining. Also, it helps prevent stain absorption on some parts of the wood. After finishing, you’re free to use different types of finish, such as polyurethane or lacquer.

Can a Shellac that's Dewaxed Makes Wood Resistant to Water?

As we’ve mentioned above, shellac that’s dewaxed is not water-resistant. Although some products claim dewaxed is water-resistant, this isn’t the case. 

It can’t prevent long-term exposure to water. Even if you apply a thin layer of dewaxed, it won’t protect the wood from dirt and water.

If you want a waterproof sealant, you’ll need to use a more durable and water-resistant product to protect your wood project from the elements. 

What Can You Apply Over Shellac?

You can apply lacquer or polyurethane over shellac to achieve authentic sealant. This combination ensures durability and resistance to harsh elements. 

Zinsser shellac

Also, these types of sealants are relatively easy to apply, and lacquer can cover your shellac over a smooth finish. However, applying dewaxed can be done beforehand, and it’s not as tedious as it sounds.

Even if you do not anticipate any contact with water, it is still recommended to protect your wood projects from damaging elements by adding these layers of protection. 

What is the Best Shellac Brand in the Market?

When protecting your woodworking projects, you need to use high-quality shellac. Since there are many brands on the market, we did a quick rundown of the brands trusted and relied on by our professional woodworkers. 

Some of the dewaxed formulations we trust are from Zinsser. Here’s our top pick from the brand, the Bulls Eye SealCoat

Zinsser Rust-Oleum 854 1-Quart Bulls Eye SealCoat

Zinsser Bullseye Shellac is a great product for woodworking projects because it provides an instant “hard-top” finish and durability that prevents moisture from soaking easily into the wood material.

Zinsser Rust-Oleum 854 1-Quart Bulls Eye SealCoat

This means you can work outdoors and don’t need extra supplies like sandpaper to keep things looking nice.

What we Like

What we Don't Like


Is Zinsser shellac dewaxed or waxed?

Zinsser shellac is dewaxed. It is sometimes referred to as “powdered lac” because the wax has been removed. This makes it a pure form of shellac ideal for several types of finishes.

How long does shellac that's dewaxed last?

Shellac that’s dewaxed lasts indefinitely. However, it can deteriorate if exposed to high temperatures or in contact with a solvent.


Overall, dewaxed shellac is a good type of finish to use for woodworking. It can provide a smooth, glossy surface that protects the wood from scratches and minor damage. 

But remember – it is best used as a “pre-sealant” and should come together with authentic sealants like polyurethane and lacquer to prolong the lifespan of your wood projects. 

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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