Mostly I build reproduction 18th century furniture using primarily black walnut
but some cherry and tiger maple. I finish using 5-7 coats of one-pound cut
shellac. Each coat including the final coat is followed by a thorough rubbing
out using 0000 Liberon steel wool. I vacuum and wipe down between applications.
The grain on the woods I use is tight enough so that after the first coat, there
is no effort by steel wool particles to hang about. I've tried the various
colors of scotch brite but find that the steel wool cuts better for the effort
required to achieve the satin finish I desire.
More to the point of the original post, I highly recommend shellac for the
application. When more protection is desired, on a couple of pieces of
traveling furniture that are subject to moisture, I have followed 5-7 coats of
thinned shellac with two coats of thinned satin varnish, also rubbed out using
0000 steel wool. No issues with wet mugs, spilled alcohol, or even the odd rain
drop or two. Ya just can't go wrong with shellac, and it's easy to control the
sheen by how much you rub out.
"Everyone to their own tastes," said the old lady as she kissed the cow.
John M. Johnston
“P.S. If you do not receive this, of course it must have been miscarried;
therefore I beg you to write and let me know.” - Sir Boyle Roche, M.P.