A primer primer

Sometimes, I like to paint my projects.

Holy smokes, someone call out the people with the butterfly nets!  Tom has lost his mind!

No, seriously. Sometimes, painted furniture is just what a room calls for. I have a number of pieces that I have painted through the years, and they look crisp against the walls and on the oak laminate floor I laid in my house.

And, when I want a nice, smooth, durable surface, I like to use primer on the project to set up my finishes for success. And, for years, I used a latex-based primer. And got OK results.

Zinnser's shellac and red primerBut, recently I saw a shellac based primer for sale at the local home improvement center. Since it is from the same company that makes the seal coat shellac I use for my finishes, I knew it would be a high-quality product. I also wondered if I could treat it like the shellac basecoat I lay down under my finishes?

The unstirred primerSo, I thought I would show a little bit of what it’s like to use. When I pried the lid off the can, I could see that the pigment settled out of the solution, and the top layer was slightly amber shellac. I was also greeted by a similar warm aroma of the alcohol the shellac was dissolved in. The pigment was a little gloppy at the bottom of the can, but a few minutes of stirring got everything mixed up.

prepping the brushI was going to apply this test with a brush, so I took the extra step of splashing some denatured alcohol onto the brush to prepare it for the primer. I shook out the excess, dipped it into the primer and started brushing onto a scrap piece of plywood.

Applying the primerThe primer laid down very easily, covering the plywood with little effort. After cleaning the brush and resealing the can, I stepped inside to wash my hands and catch up on some Winter Olympic competition.

After letting the primer cure for half an hour, I got out a sheet of 220 sandpaper and scuff sanded the plywood to get a nice smooth surface. The excess primer cut cleanly, leaving the glass smooth surface I normally get when I sand down the seal coat on my clear finish projects.

Sanding up the dustWith just a little clean up for the dust, This piece is now ready for a finish coat of a latex enamel paint. Knowing that I can use the shellac based primer just like the seal coat means I can be pretty sure that the finish on my entertainment center is going to be something impressive.

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