Salvaging(?) 151

Given my possession of a full case (~3 gallons) of 151 proof grain alcohol, useless for much of anything but cleaning brushes, I decided to try to salvage it if possible.

Mixing some varnish with pure 151 was the obvious place to start.  I mixed up a pint of the shellac lemon resin as normal for a 190 mix, then let it sit for several days to see if it would go into solution.

It did not.

I next added some 190 to the pseudosolution, estimating that a proportional addition would result in a roughly proportional increase in the proof/solubility parameter.  By that metric I was able to achieve complete solvation around the 170 proof level.  A couple days at that level and I had a container of shellac varnish.

I brushed it onto a sample panel with vaguely successful results.  The first application, in particular, had simply horrible brush-feel, and the result was not promising.

But, with stubborn determination I applied another half dozen coats in a two hour period, and two days later it had fused into something resembling a finish.  It would not have been an acceptable surface for a typical finishing project, but I charged ahead to see what, if anything, could be resultant from taking the exercise to completion.

With the brushed out surface cured for a few days, I scraped it over half of the panel surface, then detailed it with my “go to” step of rubbing it with Liberon 0000 steel wool and paste wax, then buffing the surface after a couple hours.

The end result was not awful.  It doesn’t mean that I’ll be using much 151 proof grain alcohol in varnish making, but its’s good to know that I could use it if I really needed to.