Use automobile polishes to obtain a higher gloss. You can also use steel wool and wax to create a satin finish.

Wipe away the slurry and examine the surface. If you see any shiny spots, continue to sand until they're gone.

differently than the top, just as in sanding and building up coats. Rub these parts with 3/0 or 4/0 steel wool, then follow with a coat of paste wax and buff it out.

A top requires special care. I've found that the best way to smooth the shellac on a top and achieve the final luster, whether satin or gloss, is to sand with wet/dry paper and a lubricant. I use mineral spirits as the lubricant, which requires good ventilation and a respirator, but I'm still looking for something less obnoxious. In any case, you need only work a small area at a time, to minimize the amount of mineral spirits that evaporate.

Start with 600 grit wet/dry paper, wrapped around a rubber, cork or felt sanding block. Squirt a small puddle of mineral spirits onto the surface and start sanding lightly in a circular motion until you create a slurry (Photo 6). Work your way across the surface and apply more mineral spirits as needed. Periodically wipe away the slurry. Let the film of mineral spirits dry, then examine the surface. Sand until the surface has a consistent, dull appearance. If you see any shiny spots (Photo 7), continue to sand until they're gone.

Switch to 1000 grit wet/dry sandpaper and repeat the process. When you wipe away this slurry, the surface will be a bit shinier. Switch to 1500 grit and repeat. The surface will now have a rich, satin appearance. If this is what you want, stop here.

If you want a mirror-like finish, move on to automotive polishes, such as Meguiar's Swirl Remover and Show Car Glaze (see Sources, at right). Using a soft cloth, squirt a small amount of Swirl Remover on the top and polish with a circular motion (Photo 8). When the top has a consistent shine, switch to Mirror Glaze and repeat.

Shellac is a brittle finish, and scratches easily. To keep scratches to a minimum—particularly on a mirror finish— apply a coat of paste wax.

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