Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Best Shellac Thinner


A couple of years ago I discovered the ‘secret’ to working with
shellac. That ‘secret’ is Jett Set. I have not used shellac since. I
don’t miss the smell, the mess, or the wasted time. I do a lot of
repeat production work, and I have made Jett Set jigs that the
pieces snap in and out of. It is also great for repairing things,
making custom tools, etc, etc. The sad thing is, I bought some to
try out and it sat in a drawer for a year before I got to it. It is
truly one of the best products available, and I am very hard to
please. I am not affiliated with Jett Set, but I am a VERY satisfied

Kindest regards,

Stuart J. Adelman, Designer
President, Contemporary Design Group 2002-2004


Hello Stuart Adelman et al; Yes, there ARE so drawbacks to using
Flake-Shellac, but this is my own choice of securing items of value
while setting. Shellac for me, if used with due dilligence and
absolute care is one of the best holding methods at MY setting bench.
If properly placed on my many (12+) shellac wooden sticks, it gives
me great stability. For example, securing under and around the multi
edges of some of my bracelets, difficult necklaces or watch bezels.
Yet, when the item in question is completed, I know just how to
remove the shellac quickly, in minutes using the right cleaning
methods. (moderately hot alcohol)

I find that I can re-arrange the shellac to enter all of the “nooks
and crannies” of the gold smoothly while still in its warm stages. To
some, it does not have the ‘quick release’ attribute as “Jet Sett”,
but it can be a real nuisance to others too. But each of ‘us’ have
our own uses, I buy at least 10 lbs of flake shellac a year, or

    A couple of years ago I discovered the 'secret' to working
with shellac. That 'secret' is Jett Set. I have not used shellac

Hi Stuart and Orchidians;

Don’t throw away your shellac just yet. Here’s why. Although I
love Jett Set and the other thermoplastics, there are some things
that just can’t be done better than with shellac. Actually, I prefer
a type of shellac (probably a synthetic product) that Stuller sells
called “setter’s cement”. Thermoplastics have a little spring in them
even when set and when I’m hammering in a 14K bezel on a fragile
stone, I want to be able to feel everything that is going on with the
hammer, the tool, and the metal. The bounce I get from Jett Set
disguises the moment of contact between metal and stone that I
usually hear as a change in pitch of the tool ringing and feel as a
sort of “click”. Also, I can warm up the shellac with a torch or
alcohol lamp around the outside of the stone after it’s set, then
lift it out of the softened shellac, and soak it in alcohol to remove
the remaining shellac. With thermoplastic, if you can’t get the
article out, you have to warm it in quite hot water, and that’s a
risk to some stones. Also, whereas I’ve heard you can paint the
article with nail polish and the thermoplastic will stick to it,
usually, the thermoplastic has to be configured in such a manner as
to lock the piece down, not stick to it. It doesn’t work so well
unless you can cover a substantial part of the article. And another
limit to thermoplastic is that if you are putting in a piece that has
holes drilled for bright cutting and the thermoplastic extrudes up
through the holes, it’s hard to get it out. I use both Jett Set and
shellac, each for different situations.

David L. Huffman


Hello David & Gerry - Your points are well made (and taken). Proof
once again that there are many ways to accomplish similar tasks. To
help eliminate the spring in Jett Set, I will integrate metal into
the jig. I also use a bench mate by GRS, and by removing the plastic
pieces from the ring holding clamp, and making my jigs with as little
Jett set as possible, I can eliminate most of the spring. Personally,
I like the fact that Jett set does not stick to my pieces. If I have
a fragile stone to set in a piece that needs holding, I will cut the
seat first, then mostly finish the piece before finally setting the
stone. I can make the jig before the stone(s) goes in, and make it in
a way that allows me to easily remove the piece after setting. I also
use it on pliers as an anti marring agent, and as a way to hold
pieces easier. For example, I make a piece that has one stone set in
it, and it is very small. If I am doing one, I will hold it in my
fingers to cut the seat and set the stone. However, if I have many to
do, (which I almost always do at least 6 at a time), then the fingers
take a beating. So I made a little Jett set jig that fits on the end
of one side of round nose pliers. I can then put one end of the
pliers through the chain opening, and the end with the Jett set locks
the piece easily in place with little hand pressure. Now I can set
the piece easily, and much faster.

I have also used Jett set for non-jewelry things, like - replacing a
broken screw driver handle, an air line valve on my compressor, a
knob on my clothes washing machine, and many other things. I just
think it is handy stuff to have around. And since I never really
liked shellac, (the smell rubs me the wrong way), I found a way to
adapt Jett set to serve the purpose for me.

I suppose it is all about technique, and what is comfortable for you.
I like to try new things, and new ways of doing things. If I think it
will save me time and/or money, I will try it. I have a laser, and
love it. However, sometimes good old fashioned soldering produces the
best results.

I also want to say thank you to people like David, Gerry, and Jim
Binnion for freely sharing your knowledge. Although I have little
time to participate in this forum, I do appreciate the variety of
perspectives it offers. It is always nice to know that I am not alone
in my little forrest, and reading Orchid helps me see through the

Kindest regards,
Stuart J. Adelman, Designer President,
Contemporary Design Group 2002-2004 763.559.0044