How to Make Shellac

Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images

Things You'll Need

  • 18 ounces pure gum shellac flakes
  • 1 quart denatured alcohol
  • Glass or earthenware jar with tight lid

Liquid shellac, which is often used in woodworking as a stain, sealant or varnish, is actually made from the resin secreted by the lac insect. After processing, it is sold as dry flakes that can be combined with alcohol to make liquid shellac. Because the liquid shellac available in stores has a relatively short shelf life (less than one year), you may want to learn how to make your own.

Place the shellac flakes and alcohol in the jar.

Shake the jar until the flakes are fully dissolved.


Add more alcohol, if necessary, to thin the shellac to the desired consistency before using.


Store the jar in a dark place to preserve the color.



  • Shellac flakes can be pounded in a bag until powdery, to help them dissolve faster.


  • Pure shellac flakes are expensive, but cheaper versions mixed with rosin, manila gum or other fillers will give inferior results.