Shellac: Why and How?
. I use a 1" foam brush, rather than a real paintbrush. A paintbrush can leave visible brush strokes, whereas a foam brush makes it easy to quickly put down an even coat. Also, because shellac is difficult to wash out, it is pretty much a given that you will ruin paintbrushes with it. Ruining a foam brush is less costly.
. I like to apply shellac in thin layers, rather than oversaturating. This way it dries faster, and I have better control over the thickness.
. Since I ride my bike often and in bad weather, I re-shellac on a fairly regular basis. The shellac tends to wear off first in the spots where I keep my hands the most. When I notice this, I know it is time to add another thin layer.
. Shellacking the night before I plan to ride the bike usually leaves sufficient drying time - but doing it at least 24 hours beforehand is safer. Once or twice, I've ended up holding my hands on the hoods during an entire ride, because the bars were still not 100% dry.
Because of their distinct look, it is understandable that shellacked tape or twine on a bicycle can be seen as a fashion statement. But while I am happy it looks nice, for me the practical benefits far outweigh this aspect. If it were not for shellac, I would destroy my cloth tape on a regular basis. And in case you are wondering - Yes, of course we brought shellac to the Cape! The Co-Habitant has finally replaced his Motobecane's stem shifters with Shimano bar-ends, and we re-did his tape as the sun was setting over the beach next to our house.