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This page is for people using Shellawax, Shellawax Glow and Shellawax Cream.
It is not to be referenced for other finishes although some of the information
may be of use for other finishes, it is not intended for that purpose. 

Having trouble getting a brilliant finish with Shellawax Shellawax Glow or Shellawax Cream?

for Shellawax Shellawax Glow & Shellawax Cream
From the inventor Neil Ellis


Shellawax, Shellawax Glow and Shellawax Cream were designed initially for use on high end, exhibition, museum, gallery and collectors quality, woodturned items. However, what they have also done, is for the first time in history, given woodturners across the board, a chance to get a quick, easy, finish that looks and feels far better than they ever imagined they would be able to get. All that is asked is that, the user is prepared to put in a little extra preparation work, and at least once, read and preferably take notice of, the instructions that are on our web site or come with the product.

Firstly, I would like to say that Shellawax & Shellawax Cream are the ultimate answer to all your finishing needs. However, I can not and will not. There is no such thing and I doubt there ever will be. There are those who would have you believe that this is the ultimate finish for woodturners. I wish it was, but believe me it isn’t. I cannot even guarantee that it will work on all timbers there are too many outside influences that may affect the final finish. All I can say with confidence is: “In most instances Shellawax, Shellawax Glow and Shellawax Cream will give you a professional finish (in seconds) that is far better than you have ever had before.” 

Also referred to as wood iridescencevibrancymoire, shimmer, glow. opalescence, cat's-eye and more. Most commonly seen in stones like - Tiger eye and Opal,  


Chatoyancy In Chatoyance occurs in many species of wood/timber/lumber particularly particularly where stresses from the weight of the growing tree (during a long dry spell) result in denser patches, or where stresses cause figuring of the grain as in: fiddle-back, flame, quilting, burlbird’s eye, etc.

This effect is sometimes called wet look, since wetting wood with water often displays the chatoyancy, albeit only until the wood dries. Certain finishes cause the chatoyancy to become more pronounced. Oil finishes, epoxy and shellac, bring out chatoyance.

However, by far the best of all finishes to really bring out chatoyance are Shellawax, Shellawax Glow, Shellawax Cream and U-Beaut Polishes "Aussie Oil" (information not included on this page).

When used correctly there is almost nothing that can bring out the depth and light of chatoyance in a turned object like any of the above. Even plain old "pinus rediata" will flash out with lights from within the timber like never seen before. Not only that but it only takes a few seconds for this to happen and the effect lasts indefinitely.


If you are not getting a brilliant finish, the problem lies,
either with the timber, or your method of application.


Shellawax IS NOT a plastic finish like polyurethane and many of the Tung and other oil finishes on the market which contain polyurethane or varnish. It is a shellac based finish which will react like a fine French polish. It may show a water mark and even dull off if it is wet and not dried immediately, especially if it is not applied correctly.

Shellawax, Shellawax Glow & Shellawax Cream MAY dull off or look dull if:

  • It is applied to poorly sanded work. (more info)

  • It is applied over wet (green) timber, or wood that is only partly dry  (more info)

  • It is applied to some timbers that have a high natural oil content.

  • It is applied to some timbers that have a lot of spalting (patterns caused by fungus or rot) (more info)

  • Finished work is kept in damp / moist conditions (kitchen above sink or stove, bathroom, outside)

  • Handled by clammy hands with a high acid content (about 1 in every 10,000 people)

  • It is applied to a whitewood or any timber that has poor light refraction qualities. (more info)
    These same conditions will make most shellac, wax and oil finishes dull off quite dramatically after a few days and may cause long term damage to many other finishes (lacquers, polyurethane, etc) .


Sanding: If you want a great result with Shellawax, Shellawax Glow and Shellawax Cream you need to sand very finely. When I say sand I mean with abrasive grits. Avoid the use of abrasive filled sponges and NEVER USE Steel Wool, Scotchbrite or any of the other scouring pads These are designed for use on metals and for cutting finishes, etc, not for use on wood and especially not on a revolving lathe.

The following will give you an idea as to the type of finish you can expect to attain  from various degrees of sanding:
  80 grit  -  forget it
120 grit  -  waste of time & polish
240 grit  -  pretty ordinary - initial shine will dull quickly and show dramatic sanding marks
320 grit  -  average - initial shine will dull quickly and show sanding marks
400 grit  -  better than average - initial shine may dull slightly depending on timber, will still show sanding marks
600 grit  -  good - Holds shine pretty wel,l will still show some sanding marks on some timbers and may dull slightly.
800 grit  -  better - higher shine about 75% gloss may show slight sanding marks
1200 grit - best - shines to about 90%+ gloss looks great, feels great, no sanding marks

1500 - 2000 grit - brilliant - Highest shine 100% gloss. Looks and feels brilliant. No... looks and feels, absolutely amazing!

Alternative sanding procedures:

On spindle work: Sand to at least 400 or better still to 600 then use our EEE-Ultra Shine followed by either Shellawax (liquid) or Shellawax Glow for an absolutely brilliant shine. (If not using EEE-Ultra Shine sand to 1200 grit or higher)

On Bowls: Sand with a hand held Rotary Sander up to at least 320 grit higher is better, then use EEE-Ultra Shine followed by Shellawax Cream or a mix of Cream and Shellawax or Glow for an absolutely brilliant shine.
Hand sand up to 600 or higher then use EEE-Ultra Shine followed by Shellawax Cream or a mix of Cream and Shellawax or Glow

Hand sand to between 1200 & 1500 grit or higher then use
Shellawax Cream or a mix of Cream and Shellawax or Glow

Sanding rules:
Always work your way through the grades (if you can, try not to start with 80 grit)  so...120, 180, 240, 320, 400, 600, 800, 1200, 1500, 2000 do not skip any especially the courser grits eg: never jump from  80 to 240. Skipping grits will give a terrible end result.

DO NOT use worn abrasive paper. ALWAYS use new abrasive paper which will cut the timber properly. Worn out abrasive paper does not turn into a finer grit it just turns into worn out rubbish.

ALWAYS use good abrasive paper (Hermes, SIA, etc.) preferably aluminium oxide or silicon carbide. Don’t buy cheap stuff from the Sunday market, it is usually seconds and will wear out twice as quickly as well as give an inferior cut.
A cheap purchase price is false economy. The stuff you buy in packs marked course medium and fine is also way too course for most fine finishing often 80, 120 and 180 grits. A long way off being able to produce a great finish or even a good finish.

DO NOT USE STEEL WOOL, SCOTCH BRITE OR ANY OTHER SCOURING PAD. These are mostly for use on metal and not suitable as a fine abrasive finish. Steel wool used on a lathe can be extremely dangerous.

 DO NOT burnish the work with shavings. All this does is lay down and compress the fibers of the timber which will later on expand if wet or when a finish is applied.

Some basic rules for using
Shellawax, Shellawax Glow & Shellawax Cream
(and the reasons why)





Don't listen to the local self proclaimed guru who says they know how to  use it. Chances are they'll show you

the wrong way or their way, and more often than not their way will not be the correct way or best way to use it.

  • Apply to raw timber:  Shellawax, Shellawax GLOW and Shellawax Cream are designed to be applied directly onto raw timber.


These are friction polishes designed to be applied with heat and pressure. This method of application fuses the polish with the timber giving a unique finish that is in the wood rather than on it. If sanding sealer or another finish is applied first, the Shellawax cannot key itself to the timber, as it is designed to do. If you really must use a sanding Sealer use this one U-Beaut Sanding Sealer as it is made to be compatible with the Shellawax range of products

  • There are those who use and actively promote the use of Shellawax products over other finishes such as Organoil, sanding sealer, super glue, lacquer, other oils and more.


In most instances this it to make the other product look good. Then again there are those who always think they know a better way, when more often than not they don't.

  • Our products are stand alone, polishes that are not designed to be used over other finishes. We take no responsibility for the use of Shellawax, Shellawax Glow or Shellawax Cream over any other product except our own Sanding Sealer,  EEE-Ultra Shine and Non Toxic Water Dyes. All of which are designed to be used with the Shellawax range of products.

The 3 products mentioned above are designed to be fully compatible with Shellawax, Shellawax GLOW & Shellawax Cream. Other finishes may move at different rates to the Shellawax products and could cause crinkling, crazing, bulling off or even delamination later on.

  • Use Shellawax (liquid) or Glow for pens and other small spindle turned items up to 50mm (2imches) diam. Ideal also for small lidded boxes plus bowls and face plate work up to 150mm (6 inches) diam. 


If used on larger items the liquid dries too quickly and soaks in to end grain almost immediately this stops it from being burnt into the timber under friction as it is intended, makes it harder to work with and may result in a blotchy or uneven finish with bright and dull patches.

  • For bowls, lidded containers & all items over 150mm (6 inch) dia. Use Shellawax Cream or mix some of the Cream with either Shellwax or Glow as an extender to keep the liquid from soaking into the timber before it can be worked into the the item under friction


Shellawax Cream is designed to sit on the surface of the timber, rather than soak straight in. This gives you more working time for the polish, allowing it to be burnt into the timber and worked up to a brilliant finish. Mixing it with Shellawax or Glow will extend the time the finish can sit on the surface of the item, so it can be properly worked into the item under heat from fiction. This will fuse the finish into the surface of the work.

  • Shellawax must be burned into the surface of the timber under friction. To do this without burning your fingers you need to use a thick wad of soft, clean, rag for the application.

  • For all work over 1” (25mm) dia. Always stop the lathe to put the initial rough application of the polish onto the work poece.  

    You will get a much more even coverage of polish on the timber with the lathe stopped. If the lathe is running the application will more than likely shower you and your cloths with the popish as it is flung off the work piece at speed.

  • Apply an initial rough application using enough to adequately cover the entire area you wish to polish.
    eg.: The outside of a 10” bowl would use a dob of the polish about the size of your thumbnail.

  • After initial rough application turn lathe on, then with the moistened portion of rag apply heavy pressure to the work and slowly run the rag back and forth across the entire surface to be polished.


This action supplies the heat, through friction, that the polish needs to work correctly.

  • Run the lathe as fast as it is safely possible for the size of timber you are using. A slower speed means you must run the rag across the surface to be polished at a slower rate & with more pressure to ensure it is properly burned into the surface of the wood.  


Higher speed = more heat = faster application = better finish.

  • Never leave your rag in the jar with Shellawax Cream.


1/ The rag will soak up the shellac from the polish and will eventually make the Cream either dry out or go thick and hard to use. 

2/ The rag should always be fresh and clean for the application of the polish and have a hard glazed face upon completion of application. This cannot be achieved with a moist rag without detrimentally effecting to the finish.

  • Stir Shellawax Cream occasionally to keep it in a cream form and stop it from going hard in the jar.

Shellawax Cream will thicken with time as it is exposed to the air and the alcohol evaporates. However it has the unique ability to go creamy when stirred briskly, even if it is reasonably solid.

  • Always replace the lid tightly on a jar of Cream when it is not in use.


See above.

  • Shellawax and Shellawax Glow may separate in the bottle so they have a honey coloured, clear liquid on top of a creamy or  caramel colour liquid.

This is alright and can be expected if left for long periods of time without use. This is what happens naturally with shellac, but it is only noticeable in the white variety of shellac we used in Shellawax and Glow. It is the waxes settling out of the shellac and does no harm to the produce. The wax portion will reconstitute into the shellac when the bottle is shaken vigorously.

  • So.... Always shake Shellawax (liquid) and Shellawax Glow vigorously before use.


To ensure it is completely mixed before using it.


Shellawax, Shellawax Glow and Shellawax Cream are stand alone finishes designed for use on turned timber. They are initially a one application finish and will produce a brilliant shine and feel to most turned work but there are a couple of things users should know and take particular notice of.

  • All 3 finishes work brilliantly when applied as per instructions on their respective information sheets.

  • Decorative work: Any item that will be admired and not handled, can be finished with one coat and will look brilliant.
    Problem: That one coat is fused / burned into the timber and not on the surface so may be damaged by any sort of moisture, handling, etc.
    Even though it appears there is a surface coating, wha 's pn the surface is extremely thin and offer the protection needed for functional work.

  • Functional work: Items that will be constantly or regularly handled or are subject to steam, water, alcohol, heat, etc, should have at least two or more coats
    The first coat is fused into the timber rather than being on the surface of the timber. Because of this, if the item was to get wet and not dried off immediately it will most likely go dull or mark.

    Adding a second and subsequent coats will the form a tough durable surface coating that has high resistance to marking from water, steam, alcohol, heat, etc.
    Second and subsequent coats can be immediately, there is no need to sand between coats. Use this method for any work that will be handled often or subjected to hot, moist, steamy and wet conditions or alcohol and food.

    Pens: and all small spindle work that will be constantly handled.
    Salt and pepper mills: and other kitchen items.
    Bowls: At least 3 coats or more if to be used for salads, fruit, and liquids, etc.
    Bathroom items: Soap holders, etc
    (At least 3 coats or more)
    Wine goblets and other drinking vessels: (At least 3 coats or more)

  • Store your Shellawax, Glow and Cream in a cool dark place: esky or refrigerator are ideal.

  • SHELLAWAX CREAM: Was developed for use on bowls, platters and bigger turned items.

    As much as 80% or more of the surface on a bowl could be end grain and this will soak up much of the liquid Shellawax or Glow before it can be properly worked into the timber giving a less than desirable finish. On bigger items like platters the Shellawax may dry before it can be fused into the timber under the pressure of friction. So Shellawax Cream was developed to sit on the surface of a bowl or platter allowing plenty of time for it to be properly and fully worked into the timber, giving a much better finish.

    However over the years we have found that Shellawax Cream will often be hard to distribute evenly over larger surfaces and might dry on the surface before it can be worked This can easily be rectified by mixing a little of the cream wit either some Shellawax or Glow. In this instance the Cream becomes an extender for the liquid.

    When you mix Cream with Shellawax or Glow the Cream will help the liquid to spread more evenly and stay workable on the surface for way longer than using either the Cream or liquid in their own right. By doing this the blended finish is able to be properly worked on the timber allowing for the friction to fuse the Shellawax and Cream mix to the work piece as intended.

    As little as 1 part Cream to 10 parts Shellawax or Glow will make the finish work brilliantly on larger work pieces. Ideally make up a blended mixture of anything over 150mm (6 inches) diameter.

    Only mix up enough for the work at hand and anything left over can be safely returned to the Shellawax Cream jar without causing a problem
    (so long as it is clean).


Ideally every turner would have the following items:
For the best finish in almost all situations.

Shellawax Cream: for use on larger items amd to use as an extender for Shellawax and Glow Shellawax and Shellawax Glow: for small item under 50mm diam and everything else when mixed with Cream. Also used to thin the cream for easier application. EEE– Ultra Shine: for fine abrading under the Shellawaxes. Also for use plastic & stone finishes, for cutting other finishes, lacquers, polyurethane, etc.
Traditional Wax: can be used as upkeep/maintenance over Shellawax Polish Reviver: used over the Shellawaxes it extends the time it takes to mark the finish with water, alcohol and heat, etc. Woodturners Waxtik: For a traditional wax finish. Brilliant when used over EEE-Ultra Shine. Can be used over Shellawax, etc.
Swansdown Mop: a beautifully soft buff for use with Shellawax or wax for buffing, etc. Rotary Sander: Sands bowls etc. without leaving any noticeable pattern of grit marks. Abrasive paper from 120 grit to 2500 grit 

An endless supply of soft clean rags for polishing (preferably old or new flannelette sheeting).
I have found new or used flannelette sheet material to be the best rag by far for use with these products. It is soft and easily obtainable. New material can be purchased through most material supply shops like Lincraft, or Spotlight in Australia. Old can be pinched off the bed at the end of winter or purchased through the Salvation Army and other such thrift shops. Best of all it only costs a few cents aprox $5.45 per sq metre new. Avoid flannelette that has a print as the colour from pattern may be drawn into the finish.


Q/ My Shellawax Cream has gone hard in the jar. How can I restore it? A/ Stirring it vigorously will bring it back to a creamy consistency. If it is still not thin enough add a little Shellawax (liquid) or Glow. If you don’t have Shellawax or Glow add a LITTLE BIT of Methylated Spirits do not drown the mix and use this only as a LAST RESORT.

If the Cream has gone real hard / crispy crunchy hard. Cut or break it into small pieces and use it like a wax stick. It will still give you the same finish.

Better still throw it out, get another one and take more care with it the next time.

Q/ I am using Shellawax. I sand up to 1200 grit, but the finish on my bowl always has lines in it that look like sanding marks. Why? A/ You should be using Shellawax Cream. It is designed to stay on the surface of the timber during application so it can be worked into the wood with heat from friction. Shellawax, as a liquid, soaks in to a bowl too quickly meaning you have to apply a heavier coat which will in turn pick up the weave of the material it is being applied with and will create those sanding type lines.
Q/ The finish on my bowl with Shellawax Cream is blotchy and has shiny & some dull patches. A/ There are a number of causes and fixes for this. 
(a) TIMBER: if your timber is spalted (contains rot) this may draw the polish into the surface at different rates causing a patchy finish
FIX: Apply a second coat of Cream after sanding with 1200 grit. If problem persists sand off the finish, apply a sanding sealer base and try a different finish. 
You may have a timber that just won't respond to this finish. This may be due to many causes, moisture, rot, oil, grain structure, etc.
FIX: Try a second coat of Cream after sanding with 1200 grit. Then apply a thin coat of Traditional Wax and buff.  If problem persists sand off the finish, apply a sanding sealer base and try a different finish. 
You did not stop the lathe to apply the polish. In most instances this will result in uneven and blotchy or streaky finish.

: Always apply the Cream to a bowl with the lathe stopped. Then follow the instructions
You are not applying the Cream correctly. 
FIX: Read the instructions then change your method of application.
Q/ The shine on my work dulls off after a week or so. A/ There are a number of causes and fixes for this. 
your timber was green or partly green. 
FIX 1: Apply a thin coat of Traditional Wax and buff either by hand or for preference using a Swansdown Mop.
FIX 2: If work can be rechucked. Sand with 1200grit or finer then apply another coat of Shellawax or Shellawax Cream.
This too may dull after a few weeks but a buff with Traditional Wax should fix the problem giving a brilliant glow to the wood. It is almost impossible to get a full gloss finish over green timber. The best you can hope for is about 75% gloss.
The work was poorly sanded or not sanded to a high enough grit and the polish has settled back to the final grit’s finish. See sanding info, then follow the instructions.
The turned item is kept in an area that is susceptible to dampness or moisture eg. a kitchen near a stove or sink where steam is generated or a bathroom etc.
Q/ I have an identical finish on 2 bowls using Shellawax Cream. One was Supplejack a bark brown closed grain timber. The other was Jacaranda a creamy coloured wood.  The supplejack had a brilliant shine with lights flashing out from within like an opal. The Jacaranda looked dull and lifeless along side it.  Why? A/ Different timbers will finish to different degrees of shine.
Most dark close grained timbers, especially those with a really nice figuring like fiddle-back or quilting etc. Will refract the rays of the light creating an opalescence from within and will shine to a brilliant high gloss on the surface because of this refracted light.

Light coloured timbers tend to soak up the light and do not have the same ability to refract it, so they appear to be dull. If you hold them both up at eye level and look across the top of them you will find they both have the same shine. However if you look down on them from above they will have a completely different shines, the dark figured grain will be brilliant whilst the lighter coloured timer will look to have almost flat finish to it..........

Mother nature and the tricks she plays on us........  ya just gotta luv her.

NOTE: A dull white wood can get a lift in shine by applying a coat of Traditional wax and giving it a buff. Whilst timbers like Huon pine look best if finished with EEE-Ultra Shine then with our Woodturners Waxtik or Traditional Wax

Q/ I have just about finished applying Shellawax Cream to a bowl and all is looking fantastic when all of a sudden the polish begins to go streaky or develop lines. A/ Common problem. Easy answer.
You have a little too much Shellawax Cream on your rag. If you look at the face of the rag that has worked right it is glazed and hard. Look just below the glazed section and you may see a still damp section that may even have a small build up of the cream. What has happened is that this still damp section has been brought into contact with the spinning work and has begun to lay down a new section of polish. Because of this you will get streaks and lines in the work.

Fix: Use more care in the application to ensure that the overload doesn't come in contact with the surface once the bulk of the work has been done.
If you notice it happening stop the application immediately and with the lathe still running buff the work with a clean soft cloth using reasonably heavy pressure.




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This page was last modified: Tuesday, 21 January 2020