Friction Polish Problem Solver

for Shellawax, Shellawax Glow,
Shellawax Cream & Aussie Oil
from the the makers mouth


This page is for people using Shellawax – Shellawax Glow – Shellawax Cream and Aussie Oil. 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 our Friction Polishes?

for Shellawax Shellawax Glow & Shellawax Cream

What follows is info straight from the makers mouth.

Before I begin let me just say… These are All Australian Products made in Australia by an Australian woodworker for Australian woodworkers and others. This is an Australian site for Australian and international use so with this in mind…. You will find Australian (English) Spelling with words like colour – not color, litre – not liter and measurements in mm or cm not inches, although some are in both. Many of the finishes we make are classed as DG (Dangerous Goods) and can’t be shipped overseas and therefore can’t be purchased from this site. However there are distributors in a number of countries around the world, where you may be able buy them. Click this link DISTRIBUTORS to see our current Distributor List.

Shellawax, Shellawax Glow, Shellawax Cream & Aussie Oil
were all designed initially for use on high end, exhibition, museum, gallery and collectors quality, wood turned 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 Glow, Shellawax Cream & Aussie Oil are the ultimate answer to all your finishing needs. However, I can not and will not say that. 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, glowopalescence, cat’s-eye and 
more. Most commonly seen in stones like – Tiger eye and Opal,  


Chatoyance / Chatoyancy occurs in many species of wood/timber/lumber 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 GlowShellawax Cream and Aussie Oil

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.

What follows below should help you to get the perfect finish and help you with any problems you may have when using our friction polishes

If you are not getting a brilliant finish, the problem lies, either with the timber, or your method of application not with the polish… BECAUSE IT WORKS!


Shellawax, Shellawax Cream, Shellawax Glow and Aussie Oil ARE NOT plastic finishes like polyurethane, Danish Oil or many of the  other mixed oil finishes on the market which contain polyurethane or varnish. All 4 of the above friction polishes are shellac based finishes containing our special hardener which end up being about as tough as a melamine bench top.

All four products need 20 days for a cross-linking process to complete after application. This allows them to gain their high resistance to alcohol, water and heat, etc. When fully dry (straight after application) all can be handled and will resist marking from water, etc, if the surface is dried off straight away as the finish will react like a fine French polish and may show a water mark and even dull off if it is left wet, 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.

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

    • 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) May also affect Aussie Oil

    • Finished work is kept in damp/moist conditions. eg: kitchen, above sink or stove, bathroom, outside, Anywhere that is steamy or damp

    • 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.

      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 well 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 brilliantNo… looks and feels, absolutely amazing!

EEE-ULTRA SHINE Abrasive Wax/Cut and Polish

  • EEE-Ultra Shine can be used as your last abrasive prior to using Shellawax, Glow, Shellawax Cream and Aussie Oil.
  • EEE has the ability of taking your abrading from 1200 grit all the way up to 20,000 grit in one application
  • EEE is the exception to the rule Apply to raw timber in the below section Some basic rules for using 

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


SECOND: 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 may not be the correct nor the best way. Also don’t slavishly follow instructions on YouTube as a good deal of the videos I have see are also not the best advise for using our products.


Apply to raw timber:  Shellawax, Shellawax GLOW, Shellawax Cream and Aussie Oil 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.

As per the above EEE information EEE-Ultra Shine is the exception to the rule of apply to raw timber. It can be used under all our Friction Polishes and is recommended to help give the highest possible shine.

Over Other Finishes: 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.
Reason 1/:
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, Shellawax Cream or Aussie Oil 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.
Reason 2/:
The 4 products mentioned above are designed to be fully compatible with Shellawax, Shellawax GLOW & Shellawax Cream and Aussie Oil. Other finishes may move at different rates to the Shellawax products and could cause crinkling, crazing, dulling off or even delamination later on.

For Pens & Other Smalls items: Use Shellawax(liquid) or Glow or Aussie Oil 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 & items up to 150mm (6 inch) dia: Use Shellwax or Glow or Aussie Oil. If you find the Shellawax or Glow soaking into the wood too quickly, mix some of the Cream with either as an extender to keep the liquid from soaking into the timber this will allow you time to work the finish into the timber under friction as it should be.
Shellawax Cream is designed to sit on the surface of the timber, rather than soak straight in. This gives the polish more working time, 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.
N.B: DO NOT mix Aussie Oil with Shellwax Cream or anything else. Always use the Aussie Oil on its own, it is a stand-alone finish.

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
Same as above.


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. I recommend either new or used flannelette sheeting. It is brushed and soft and won’t show a weave pattern on the finished surface. Avoid sheeting with a printed pattern as the colour may well come out of the cloth and end up adding unwanted colour to the finish.

  • For all work over 1” (25mm) dia. Always stop the lathe to put the initial rough application of the polish onto the work piece. 
    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. Also the polish that is spun off will make wooden and cement floors very slippery.
  • 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.

DO’s ‘n’ DON’Ts

  • Never leave your rag in the jar with Shellawax Cream.
    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 and NEVER remove the foil insert from lid
    See above. Plus removing foil insert will allow the Cream to expand the lid so it won’t seal properly.
  • 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 on the bottom.

    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.

  • AUSSIE OIL WARNING: Aussie Oil will separate in the bottle very quickly and must be shaken very vigorously before each and every application or it won’t work as it should. If not shaken vigorously the finish will be dull and lifeless. If well shaken, the finish will be nothing short of magnificent.

    SHAKE IT: If you only give it a wishy, washy, half-hearted wobble, it won’t mix properly. It must be a vigorous (almost violent) shake. If you can’t shake a little 250ml bottle violently then please don’t buy 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, what’s on the surface is extremely thin and won’t 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.

ROUGH GUIDE TO ITEMS & Applications:
Pens: and all small spindle work that will be constantly handled. (At least 2 coats or more)
Salt and pepper mills: and other kitchen items. (At least 3 coats or more)
Bowls: If to be used for salads, fruit, and liquids, etc. (At least 3-4 coats or more) Ideally bowls should be used for dry foods, nuts, chips, biscuits, etc.
Bathroom items: Soap holders, etc (At least 3 coats or more)
Wine goblets and other drinking vessels: (At least 3 coats or more)

STORAGE: Store your Shellawax, Glow and Cream in a cool dark place: esky or refrigerator are ideal. Refrigeration won’t hurt Shellawax products.

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 Creamfor use on larger items and 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 Reviverused 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.
  • Non Toxic Water Dyes for adding a food-safe splash of colour to your turned work. Can be used under all our friction polishes.
  • 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 2000 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 sheets 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 approx. $5.45 per sq metre new. Avoid flannelette that has a coloured 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 like 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/ If you’re using Shellawax Cream. you’re using too much. If your using Shellawax or Glow you’re using way too much. Use just enough to lightly coat the surface of the work. Use the same piece of rag to burn the polish into the work but make sure to use the rag like any tool on the lathe and keep it at a constant angle to the work. If you do this the polish will get an even line free finish.

When you take the rag from the work the face of the rag should be glazed and you should see a small wave of built up finish at the bottom of the face of the rag. If you went off the constant angle and picked up some of the wave it would try to lay down a new layer and as there isn’t enough it would give you the appearance of sanding marks

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. 
 (b) TIMBER:
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. 
(a) TIMBER: 
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, (above) 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 chatoyance / opalescence from within and will shine to a brilliant high gloss on the surface because of the refraction. 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  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 Shithot 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.