Delacour Pianos
Technical Services


118. French polish is a solution of shellac and other gums in alcohol, and the polishing process distributes the gums in a liquid form over a given surface of wood that has been specially prepared to receive the polish. A hard, brilliant, and transparent surface is thus given to the wood, enhancing its natural beauty while rendering it impervious both to dirt and damp.

Varnishing by means of a brush produces a comparatively uneven surface ; French polishing, on the contrary, should be smooth and should have a glossy and durable surface. The process can be applied to nearly all varieties of woods, the best results being obtainable with those kinds having a close and even texture and a good figure.


119. Necessary Workshop Conditions.—It is essential that the operations of French polishing should be carried out in an atmosphere free from dust, since if small particles settle on and adhere to the polish while yet wet, they will spoil its surface and appearance. It is a good plan to sweep up the shop overnight after covering up the work, thus ensuring cleanliness on starting work every morning. The temperature of the workshop should be warm, even in winter, and the light must be good. If possible, the shop should be arranged so that it receives its light from windows facing the north, as a north light is best where delicate colours are concerned, being more equable and uniform than direct sunlight. In the Southern Hemisphere, where the conditions are reversed, a south light would be desirable. Lighting from overhead, as through skylights, should, if possible, be avoided, since such lighting has the effect of magnifying and distorting any defects that may be present in the work. As it is impossible to do good polishing in a poor light, artificial light should be abundantly supplied where required ; the incandescent electric light is best on account of superior safety from fire risks. It should be understood, however, that matching up colours cannot be satisfactorily performed except by natural daylight, and should not be attempted under any other conditions.

120. French-Polishers’ Bench and Trestles.—As the bench will only be used by French polishers for small work, no extra strength will be required in its construction. For ordinary work, a bench having the following proportions will be found suitable : length, 4 to 5 feet ; width, 2 feet 6 inches to 3 feet; and height, 2 feet 6 inches to 2 feet 9 indies. A kitchen table having a drawer at one end will serve the purpose admirably. The bench should be placed near the window whenever possible, as it is important for the light to fall full on the front of the work. In addition to the bench, a pair of trestles should be provided for use when polishing larger work, which may be supported directly by the trestles, or by boards laid on the latter.

121. Dust Sheets.—A few clean wrappers, known as dust sheets, are necessary articles in the complete equipment of the polishers’ workshop. Unbleached calico of stout texture will be found satisfactory material for these dust sheets, which are employed for covering up finished work or for laying on the bench when finishing delicate articles.

122. Temperature of Polishing Shop.—The air of the shop should be free from moisture, and the best results are obtained when the work is done in a warm, dry atmosphere. This is because all polishes or varnishes consist of gums dissolved in spirits, and the evaporation of the spirit from the solution leaves the gums thinly distributed over the surface of the wood. Dampness in the air prevents the drying of the polish or varnish with the desired glossy brightness, as the moisture combines with the gums while in their soluble state, causing the work to become what is technically known as chilled. A satisfactory minimum temperature for the polishing shop is about 65° F., which should be maintained in cold weather by the aid of heating apparatus. Hot-water radiators or steam coils afford greater safety from fire risks than even a closed stove, since there is then no risk of igniting the spirit so largely used in polishing work. If gas rings are employed to heat vessels containing stain or polish, precautions should be adopted to minimize the risk of fire.

123. French-Polishers’ Tools.—Few tools other than those used in the actual process of polishing will be required, the work necessitating them being the dismantling previous to polishing of the article in hand, its fitting up after the completion of the work, or the cleaning up of a faulty surface. For these purposes two screwdrivers will be required, one of medium size for taking work apart, and a smaller one for taking off brass or other fittings or the small doors of cabinets. A light hammer, a pair of pincers, and a steel scraper are also needed, the latter being about 4 inches long by 3 inches wide. A cork rubber is also necessary. For the actual polishing process, the only tools that will be required, with the exception of the rubbers, which will be hereafter described are an assortment of brushes.

The outfit should include a dusting brush; brushes for use in staining; a tightly bound sash tool for oiling or cleaning carved work, for which, however, the ordinary stencil brush may be substituted with advantage. Brushes of camel’s hair are needed for coating turned work and also for applying colours when matching up. The sizes of large camel’s-hair brushes, or mops, are expressed in numbers, the higher the number the larger the mop. The size corresponding to a given number may vary with different makers, and while some firms make sizes from 1 to 16, others only make from 1 to 9. The pattern of mop that is most favoured is shown in Fig. 42, it being found in practice that a more even coating can be applied when the mop is bound in quill owning to the springiness of that material. Camel’s-hair pencils will also be required in various sizes.

124. Care of Brushes.—The proper use and care of brushes are matters of very great importance where efficient work is to be done. Brushes used with water stain should be thoroughly washed out when done with, otherwise the stain left in the brush may prove disastrous to the work on which it is next used. Camel’s-hair mops need rinsing out with methylated spirits at the first time of using, there being always a few loose hairs left in their manufacture ; after use they should again be rinsed in the spirit, the hair straightened out in a natural manner, and the brush laid on its side. The latter precaution is necessary owing to the soft nature of the hair, which is rendered unshapely if left standing in the vessel in which it has been used. Camel’s-hair pencils should be treated in the same way.


125. The materials used by the French polisher include French polishes of several kinds; various hard varnishes ; dry pigments of many colours ; dyes and stains that are soluble in spirit ; other dyes soluble in water and consequently known as water stains ; several kinds of gums ; raw and boiled linseed oil, together with many reliable substitutes for the raw oil that are produced by different makers; turpentine; different sorts of alcohol; and also benzine. Such articles as plaster of Paris, tallow, pumice stone, and beeswax are required in preparing a surface for polishing. Various chemicals are necessary, including the following : American potash, or its purer form, American pearlash ; ammonia ; bismuth, in the form of bismuth oxychloride, the metal being in a white powder; oxalic acid, or salts of lemon ; nitric acid, or aquafortis ; hydrochloric acid, also called muriatic acid or spirits of salts ; and sulphuric acid, or vitriol. Glass paper of varying coarseness is used, the most common grades being the very fine ones, such as No. 000, or flour glass paper, and No. 0. For rubbing and dabbing, the polisher requires wadding, fine white rags, tow or hemp fibre, felt, etc. The use of the various materials will be described in connection with the operations in which they are employed.



126. Shellac.—Formerly, French polish was made in the workshop by the man who used it, but it is nowadays obtained through wholesalers from manufacturers who specialize in the production of polishes and varnishes. To make the polish, gum lac is dissolved in alcohol, the process being expedited by agitating or shaking the solution ; heat has a softening effect on gums, and the manufacture of French polish or spirit varnish is facilitated by standing the vessel in a bath of hot water or, preferably, of hot sand. Lac, or gum lac, is the resinous exudation of certain East Indian trees following the puncture of the branches of those trees by the lac insect. The granular particles of gum, when separated from twigs, eggs, and dead insects by steeping in water, constitute what is termed seed lac. The seed lac is melted in boiling water and poured out on a cool surface, forming brittle, semi-transparent flakes of a deep orange colour, which constitute the shellac of commerce. From its colour, this particular variety is known as orange shellac by the French polisher the thin flakes are easily dissolved, but as it is liable to show a muddy or opaque appearance when used in any quantity, the orange shellac should not be used in polishing work that is desired to be clear and transparent. If shellac is re-melted purified, and made into circular cakes some 2 or 3 inches in diameter, it becomes button shellac, or button lac, which is most desired by French polishers, since it affords the requisite transparency of finish ; the colour of button lac is orange yellow, but clearer than that of ordinary shellac. Garnet shellac is another variety of gum lac, forming a polish of a rich brown colour. It comes in cakes of irregular shape, rather smaller than those of button lac, of a deep reddish-brown colour.

127. White Shellac—White, or bleached, shellac is obtained by melting the commercial shellac and bleaching it with different acids while in a plastic condition ; the resulting product is in the form of thick sticks or rods, which are very porous. Owing to the use of these acids and the presence of moisture in the shellac when bleached, this particular variety of lac must receive special treatment. White shellac quickly deteriorates when exposed to the air, and directly it is received should be immersed in water and kept there until required for use. The lac is then broken into small pieces and thoroughly dried. To give absolute assurance of freedom from moisture, the dried white shellac should be rinsed in methylated spirits.

128. Gums Other Than Shellac Used in Polishing.—Various gums other than shellac are used in the making of French polish or in parts of the polishing process. Gum sandarac, or sandarach, is a pale yellow resinous gum that exudes from a North African tree of the pine species. Gum mastic is a pale resin that is obtained from the mastic tree, an evergreen found in Mediterranean countries. Gum arabic is the gum formed by exudation of the sap of various species of acacia ; it is a very clear and pale yellowish substance. Benzoin, or gum benjamin, is a fragrant resinous gum that flows from certain spice-trees in Sumatra : it is used by polishers for imparting a quick-drying glaze.Copal is a hard, amber-like resin, obtained from various trees ; there are three chief varieties which exhibit certain differences from one another, obtained respectively from Brazil, the East Indies, and Zanzibar.


129. The oils used in the polishing processes are raw and boiled linseed oil, turpentine, and nut oil. Raw linseed oil is that most commonly used, and is largely employed in the preliminary oiling process, described later, to intensify the figure and colour of the wood and also to darken its colour. For mahogany work, red oil is commonly used to produce these effects, the oil being obtained by steeping alkanet root, which is the root of a plant yielding a red colouring matter, in raw linseed oil. Boiled linseed oil is used in polishing work in the composition of fillers only.

Raw oil is also used as a lubricant on the rubber in the final stages of the polishing process to assist in the even distribution of the coating of gums and to prevent the rubber from sticking when it is used in polishing. Nut oil is used in similar fashion as a lubricant in connection with any work where a purity of colour is desired.


130. Alcohol.—The ordinary alcohol of commerce is known as grain, or ethyl, alcohol. As alcohol readily absorbs moisture from the air, it is difficult to obtain it perfectly free from water, and the spirit is therefore usually spoken of in terms of the percentage of absolute alcohol, or alcohol that is quite free from water. Rectified spirits of wine, containing about 90 per cent. of alcohol, or 90° strength, is the purest form of alcohol used in polishing.

Methyl, or wood, alcohol is obtained from wood spirit by repeated distillation and purification, the final product being variously known as crude methyl alcohol, wood alcohol, or wood naphtha. This form of methyl alcohol, while being more costly than ordinary spirit, is quicker in drying.

131. Methylated Spirits.—Beverages containing grain alcohol are heavily taxed in most countries, and to obtain the partial or entire remission of these taxes from alcohol intended for industrial purposes it is necessary to denature the spirit, or render it unfit for use as a beverage. The usual method of denaturing is by adding a specified percentage of wood alcohol, which is more or less poisonous ; further, to prevent the chemist from separating the wood alcohol by distillation, a proportion of petroleum naphtha or of benzol is added, the product being termed methylated spirits.

Methylated spirits should be kept in a cask or in stone or glass vessels, as metal has a deleterious effect which, though not apparent in the liquid, causes the shellac immersed in it to be darkened somewhat and to partake of a greenish tinge. To prevent the evaporation of the spirits, the vessels should be kept securely corked. Various Local Government and Inland Revenue regulations govern the sale and storage of spirit in the United Kingdom, the maximum amount allowed without special permit being 4 gallons. This permit is readily granted free of cost on official inspection and submission of proof of secure storage under lock and key, and of the use of the spirits for commercial or industrial purposes, but not for retailing. Many manufacturers, to avoid complications with the Inland Revenue authorities, mix shellac with the methylated spirits in the proportions of about 2 ounces of gum to 1 gallon of spirit, thus altering the composition of the liquid, which is then termed methylated finish.


133. Recipes for Clear Polish.—What is known as clear polish is that consisting solely of gums dissolved in spirit, without the addition of any colouring matter whatever. Various recipes, for clear French polish are given here, it being left to the personal judgment of the polisher to add the ingredients other than lac and spirit, since some authorities hold that no gums but lac should be employed. Gum sandarac, however, has hardening properties, while gum benzoin imparts a brighter gloss. To make button . . polish, or clear polish from button lac, 2 pounds of button shellac may be dissolved in 1 gallon of methylated spirits. The shellac should be broken up into small pieces before mixing.

Another recipe, frequently adopted, specifies that 2 pounds of button shellac be dissolved in 1 gallon of methylated spirits or 1 gallon of wood naphtha, together with 1 ounce of gum sandarac and 1 ounce of gum benzoin. If preferred, gum mastic or gum arabic may be substituted for either the sandarac or the benzoin or for both The gums sandarac, mastic, and arabic must be powdered finely before mixing ; the gum benzoin, being of a gritty nature and leaving much woody residue, is mixed in a separate vessel and carefully strained through muslin before adding to the polish. All polish must be strained through muslin after making, in order to remove any impurities, and should at all times be well shaken before being used. The use of wood naphtha or wood alcohol, in place of methylated spirits, renders the polish sharper, or quicker in drying, but its use requires greater knowledge of the intricacies of the polisher’s art.

133. By substituting either white, orange, or garnet shellac for the button lac, clear polish of a corresponding name can be obtained. Button polish is of a very pale brown tinge, and when of good quality should be perfectly transparent on wood. Orange polish, more commonly termed brown polish, is slightly opaque, as it is made with the orange lac, the cheapest form of shellac. Garnet polish is used to impart a rich golden-brown colour, or to add warmth to the tone of walnut or oak. White polish, made from bleached shellac, is employed in polishing the very light woods and is also used over delicate inlays ; when work is finished in black or ebony, white polish is used above the black surface, as the other polishes would impart a greenish tinge if used. When white polish is allowed to stand for any considerable time, a separation takes place in the liquid, the clear arid transparent upper portion from which the muddier part has settled being often called toppings. The toppings are carefully decanted for use as transparent polish on very delicate work.

134. Gas Black.—A most useful black pigment, highly esteemed in polishing work, is that known as gas black. The flame of an ordinary gas burner is allowed to play on the bottom of an iron vessel containing clean water, and the soot that collects on the bottom of the vessel is scraped off for use as gas black. Gas black is generally considered the densest black obtainable for use in polishing, but in ebonized work its colour is intensified by combination with aniline spirit black, a colouring substance in the form of a powder. Gas black should be stored for use in tins having a dose-fitting cover.

135. Coloured Polishes.—French polish may be coloured by the use of a variety of pigments, and any aniline dyes may be employed to impart the desired shades. Still, while red and black polishes are constantly used by polishers, the other colours are rarely required. What is known as red polish is made by a decoction of sandalwood in either button or white polish. Sandalwood, which is often termed sanderswood, is obtained in the form of a reddish sawdust, and this is tied in a porous calico bag and allowed to soak in a vessel containing polish. Two ounces of sandalwood sawdust should be sufficient to colour 1 pint of polish.

The polish known as black polish is made by mixing aniline spirit black with white polish. With ebonized work, a good grounding is formed by the use of button or white polish coloured with gas black. Over this is used the polish coloured with spirit black, thus ensuring a deep ebony shade.



136. Work, as received in the polishing shop, has to undergo several processes preparatory to the actual application of the polish. Generally speaking, the article will come in a fit condition for the preparatory processes, but often a few defects will demand attention. Such defects are usually small and easily remedied but, if overlooked or neglected until some progress has been made with the polishing operations, their removal will be rendered more difficult or, perhaps, impossible. Chief among such blemishes is a roughened surface caused by a humid atmosphere and known as grain rising. If the surface is free from plane marks or other irregularities, which should be removed by the woodworker, grain rising can be remedied by the use of very fine glass paper backed by the cork rubber. Bruises on the surface, known in different parts of the country as dents or as delves, may also call for attention, or there may be a slight lifting of the veneer ; these defects are usually rectified by the woodworker. The scraping and glass-papering performed by the polisher are known by him as cleaning up or papering up.


137. Effects of Stain on Various Woods.—After cleaning up, the next preparatory process is the staining of the wood, if the piece requires to be stained. Great care is necessary in spreading the stain evenly and uniformly over the work, and if the article must be finished to a particular colour or to match a definite pattern, the exercise of a certain amount of judgment will be called for. It is an excellent rule in staining to keep on the light side of the pattern, that is, to leave the stained work a shade lighter in tone than the pattern with which it is required to match. This is by far the safer plan, as the work can easily be darkened down to the required tone while it is a difficult matter to lighten a colour that proves too dark. Stain should always be tested on a cutting of wood of the same texture as the work. It will be observed that woods of a porous or spongy nature will take the stain more readily than close-grained stuff, and for a similar reason end grain will absorb more stain and become darker than the face side of the wood. Great care should be exercised in staining articles made up of different grades of wood.

138. Bichromate of Potash Stain.—The aqueous solution of bichromate of potash is very extensively used as a darkening agent for oak and mahogany. It is less frequently used on oak, as it causes the wood to take on a reddish tinge, but the redness is not so objectionable when a weak stain is used. A well-equipped workshop will have the bichromate of potash stain made up in three different strengths, namely, strong, medium, and weak. These strengths will be found useful in obtaining standard or recognized colours without special preparation, the strong solution being used to produce the colour termed Chippendale, the medium solution for Sheraton colour, and the weak solution for sundry purposes. To make the stain the crystals are crushed to powder, put into an earthenware vessel, and boiling water poured on top of them. Three to six ounces of bichromate to 1 gallon of water will be found sufficient. The strength of the crystals varies, and for this reason no definite proportions can be given, but the stain should be tested on pieces of wood until the correct full strength has been obtained. The medium and weak solutions are obtained from the strong solution by diluting it with, respectively, one-third and two-thirds the quantity of water. Bichromate of potash stain should neither be made nor stored in iron vessels.

139. Oak Stain.—While there are numerous varieties of stains intended for different purposes, it is not customary to keep in stock those kinds that are infrequently used. In ordinary shops, there are three or four stains that are made and stored in reasonable quantities, since they are in general and constant demand. In addition to the bichromate of potash stain, already referred to, the common stains and that known as oak stain, and that termed black stain. Oak stain is used to obtain brown shades of that wood. The following recipes for oak stain can be recommended : 1. Boil together 1 gallon of water, 1 pound Vandyke brown, and either 1 pound American potash or 7 pint liquid ammonia.

2. Boil together 1 gallon of water, 12 ounces Vandyke brown, 1 ounce bichromate of potash, and either 3 ounces American potash or 3 ounces liquid ammonia.

The stain is modified, or made lighter, by the addition of more water. The mixture should always be well agitated before use, the pigment partly settling to the bottom of the vessel in course of time. Brushes made of hair should not be used in mixtures containing a large proportion of American potash, but could be used with stains containing the proportions of potash just mentioned, provided that they were not left in the stain. The potash in the mixture serves as a mordant, that is, it causes the stain to bite deeply into the wood. Other popular mordants are ammonia and common washing soda.

140. Black Stains.—One recipe for a black stain is as follows : Boil 1 pound logwood in 1 gallon of water ; add 3 ounces verdigris and 1 ounce copperas ; strain the mixture and put in 1 pound rusty iron filings ; apply at least two coats of the stain.

The black stain most frequently employed is that known as French black stain, which is procured ready made from the usual suppliers of polishers’ requisites, in quantities from 1 pint upwards.

141. Spirit Stains.—Various dye-stuffs may be dissolved in methylated spirits to produce spirit stains for wood. Practically all the aniline dyes are available, notably aniline black. The colouring matter of such materials as sandal wood may also be extracted by simple soaking in spirit. A spirit stain penetrates the fibres of the wood more readily than a water stain and so a mordant is not required. Spirit stains have the advantage of drying almost immediately after application, leaving the surface ready for varnishing or polishing without loss of time.

142. Applying Stain.—It is best to apply stain with a brush, spreading the liquid evenly all over the work and taking care that no places are missed. Before the stain dries, the excess is wiped off with a cloth in an even manner, and in the direction of the grain ; this wiping will assist in the production of a uniform colour. It is sometimes difficult, especially with mahogany, to distinguish the exact colour of the wood after staining it all over : so, to ascertain if a further staining is necessary, a small piece of wadding damped with methylated spirits is passed over the work. The wetted surface of the wood will then clearly show up the exact tone of colour, but this course must only be adopted where water stain has been used. It occasionally happens that certain parts of the wood will gradually turn very dark under the action of the stain ; this defect must be remedied by bleaching before going any further. The process of bleaching will be described in subsequent articles.


143. Process of Filling In.—Wood fillers are substances used to fill up the grain of the wood, without in any way altering the surface, so as to prevent the absorption, or sinking in, of the polish or varnish. Various materials are used for the purpose of filling in, as it is termed, such as plaster of Paris, tallow, whitening, etc., colouring pigments being added that will correspond to the colour of the wood worked on. Various patent fillers are readily obtainable which are already coloured to correspond to the woods they are to be used on ; the chief requisites for any wood filler are that it should be soft enough to run into the small pores of the wood that its colouring should render it unnoticeable after use, and that it should set hard and firm.

These wood fillers are made with different bases, such as water, turps, oil, or spirits, and it is an imperative rule wherever a stain other than chemical has been used that the liquid composing the filler must not be the same as that with which the stain has been made. If this precaution is neglected, as, for instance, in using a filler made with water on wood previously treated with a water stain, it will be found that some of the stain has been washed from the wood. Such washing away may, however, be prevented by giving the work a thin coating of French polish before beginning to fill in, this fixing the stain, as it is termed.

144. Tallow Filler.—The most reliable of home-made fillers is known as filling-in fat, and is composed of tallow and plaster of Paris together with a suitable colouring pigment. Approximately, the proportions should be 2 parts of plaster to 1 part of tallow,but care must be taken to add sufficient plaster to render the filler firm enough to rub into the pores of the wood and not to rub out. Only the finest quality of plaster should be used, and in all fillers the greatest care must be exercised to ensure the absence of grit. The pigments used to colour different hardwoods are as follows: For light mahogany, rose pink; for dark mahogany, rose pink and Vandyke brown ; for walnut, either rose pink or brown umber. In each case, the colouring matter should be used in the dry or powdered state, and the pigments referred to may be used with any kind of filler. When using filling-in fat, a rubber is used similar to that illustrated in Fig. 43, the rubber being fashioned out of a piece of felt or the like, firmly rolled up and bound together so as to present a hard flat surface to the wood worked over. Small mouldings and carvings are not filled in, unless there are large surfaces to be left in relief in the carvings. The method of holding and working the filling-in rubber is shown in Fig. 44.

145. Water Filler. The material that is spoken of as a water filler is simply plaster of Paris rubbed into the pores of the wood. The plaster is mixed in a dry state with the chosen colouring matter, and a rag well moistened with water is dipped into the powder, the plaster being rubbed into the wood with a quick circular motion of the rag. Only a small surface of wood must be dealt with at one operation, as the plaster sets very rapidly, especially in warm weather, and the excess of filler is then extremely difficult to remove. The water filler is the simplest and easiest in use, the only drawback being its liability after many years to turn grey, thus disclosing its presence in the wood.

146. Oil Filler.—The slow-drying filler, known as an oil filler, which is similar in its form and substance to many of the patent filling preparations on the market, is a mixture of boiled linseed oil, whitening, colouring pigment, and turps. The whitening is powdered and mixed with the pigment and boiled oil to form a thick paste, being reduced to the proper consistency for working by the addition of turpentine as required.

147. Foozle. A filler made of oil and polish and known by the workshop name of foozle is composed of equal quantities of raw linseed oil and French polish, sufficient plaster of Paris being added to form a paste. Very little colouring matter is required, but when foozle is made it is customary to use one of the standard coloured French polishes as an ingredient to tint the mixture.

148. Wiping Off Filler.—The removal of surplus filler from the surface of the wood is termed wiping off. When tallow-filler is employed, the surplus fat is removed as far as possible by a wooden scraper made in the same shape as the ordinary steel scraper, the fat taken off being returned to the vessel for further use. The method of handling the wooden scraper preparatory to wiping off is shown Fig. 45; special attention should be paid to the angle at which the scraper is held to the work. The actual wiping is done with tow, which is held to be the best material for the purpose, with fine shavings, or with old rags. In cleaning out corners, what are called quirk sticks are used, as shown in Fig. 46 (a) and (b); a quirk stick is simply a short piece of round hardwood cut to a sharp point as in (a), or a rectangular piece cut to a chisel edge, as in (b). The wood must be wiped off to a perfectly clean surface before it can be ready for polishing. Work filled in with the water filler must be wiped off very speedily, on account of the rapid setting of the plaster.

149. Brushed Filler.—A good filler, which is advantageously used where it is desired to proceed rapidly with the work, is made from powdered whitening mixed into a thick paste with japanners’ gold size and suitable colouring. This composition is on the lines of various American patent fillers. The paste when required for use is thinned with turps to the consistency of ordinary paint and is applied with a brush, which is conducive to rapid work. After brushing on the filler is allowed to stand for a few minutes to dry and partly set, and is then well rubbed off with coarse rags or with tow. The brushed filler must be rubbed off promptly as soon as it has begun to set, for if left too long the surplus will become too hard for easy removal by rubbing.


150. Process of Oiling In.—Work on which water filler has been employed must be allowed to become perfectly dry before proceeding further with it. The surface is then oiled in, or lightly smeared over with a soft rag moistened with raw linseed oil. If other fillers than those with a water basis have been used, the oiling-in process will not be required, but the oil may be used without detriment over any class of filling if a slight darkening of the tone is desired. It should always be remembered that linseed oil, while indispensable, is the greatest enemy of the French polisher and the use of this agent must therefore be regarded as a necessary evil. The oil should be employed as sparingly as possible, since if too much is used it will work through the coating of polish in the form of sweat, thus spoiling the appearance of the work.

151. Use of Oil.—Carved work is rarely oiled in unless the wood is unusually light in colour, as carved surfaces have a tendency to turn darker than flat surfaces under oil. All hardwood? except those that are desired to remain very light, are oiled in with the object of enhancing the colour and figure of the wood. In the case of wood that has not been stained, oiling is always the last process after papering up, and an application of oil is always necessary after the use of water filler, even if oiling in has been performed at an earlier stage of the processes.

Many polishers oil in all dark parts of mahogany before applying the stain, as this prevents the stain from taking full effect on such parts were this preliminary oiling not done, it would be necessary to apply a lighter shade of stain to the dark parts of the wood in order to ensure the necessary uniformity of tone and the use of the oil thus obviates much difficult work. The use of oil preparatory to staining is also advocated with mahogany as a preventive against the rising of the grain of the wood through the employment of water stain. All the surplus oil must be wiped off with scrupulous care, especially from crevices and corners.



152. Material for Polish Rubbers.—French polish is applied to woodwork from a saturated piece of wadding that is covered over with a piece of clean linen or cotton cloth. The wadding, which is never referred to by polishers under its other well-known name of cotton wool, is supplied in sheets or in bundles.Sheet wadding has a kind of skin on each side enclosing the mass of soft cotton; the width of the sheet is usually about 27 inches and it is made up in rolls containing a length of 12 yards. The bundle wadding has no skin, and it consists of a thick fleece of soft cotton wool folded into a bundle; it is considerably cheaper than the other variety for the purposes of the polisher, and is often known as pound wadding since it comes in 1-pound bundles. The rags used for polishing are old linen or cotton, without holes through which the polish might escape, and free from fluff or starch. Bleached cotton calico, properly cleansed and washed, forms the best rags those required for polishing must be fairly open in texture when held to the light, while those used in the operation known as bodying must be of a more open texture and of a finer nature than that used in the finishing processes. Rags are usually sold by weight, the average London price being about 6d. per pound for cleansed white rag; coloured rags are cheaper and may be used, if desired, on unimportant work, seeing that the colours are not likely to wash out of the fabric with the spirit.

153. Making the Rubber.—The quality of the work depends to a great extent on the shape of the rubber used by the polisher.The proper method of forming a shapely rubber is shown in Figs. 47 to 53. Some wadding is worked into a pad of about the desired size and shape, as shown held in the left hand of the operator in Fig. 47, it being eminently desirable that the sole, or working surface, is smooth and unwrinkled, while the outline of the rubber resembles that of a flattened pear. The polisher wets the wadding with polish or other liquid from a bottle held in his right hand, as shown in the illustration, it is advisable to keep the bottle corked, with a notch running lengthwise of the cork on one side,so that the contents of the bottle may be lightly sprinkled on the sole of the rubber. The notch in the cork of a spirits bottle must be rather smaller than the notch in the cork of a polish bottle since the spirit is more volatile. Although the operation of wetting the rubber is known as dipping up, the wadding or rubber should never actually be dipped in the polish, but be sprinkled on from a bottle; if the polish is exposed to the air an open vessel for dipping up, it will deteriorate.

154. The wadding having been wetted, it is covered with a piece of rag while still held in the left hand of the polisher, as shown in Fig. 48. The rubber in formation is drawn tightly to a point between the forefinger and, thumb of the right hand, and the rag is folded over the back of the rubber. The beginning of this folding operation is shown in Fig. 49; about three folds are taken in this manner, the turning in of thefolds being shown in Fig. 50. The loose corners of the rag are gathered together, as illustrated in Fig. 51, and are twisted sharply round one another to secure them ; this twisted portion fits in the. hollow of the palm, as shown in Fig. 52, in which the polisher is holding the completely formed rubber, sole upwards, in his right hand. The method of holding the rubber during actual polishing operations is clearly shown in Fig. 53, the rubber being held between the thumb and the second and third fingers, the toe, or point, of the rubber being in line with the forefinger, as shown, thus enabling the rubber to be worked into any corners.

155. Care of Rubbers.—All rubbers used in French polishing should be kept in an air-tight tin when not in use, since otherwise they will quickly harden through the evaporation of the spirit and thus become unfit for use. Several tins must be included in a proper equipment, as the rubbers for each stage of the polishing process must be kept separate from those used during the other stages ; the rubbers used for coloured polish must also be stored separately. Rubbers may not be used indiscriminately for all kinds of polish, as this renders likely the production of bad and discoloured work, more especially where white polish is employed.


156. Fadding or Skinning In.—After oiling in the surface of the work. it is rubbed perfectly smooth with fine glass paper, care being taken if water filler has been used that the white grain left by the plaster of Paris has quite disappeared under the oil treatment. When smoothing with glass paper the polisher must be careful not to take off any arrises, or sharp edges, in the wood, since in that case the stain would be cut through, leaving a mark of lighter colour than the remainder of the surface. When the wood is quite clean and free from all traces of filler and superfluous oil, the actual work of polishing is proceeded with, the operation of putting on the first coat of polish being known either as skinning in, from the circumstance that a skin of polish is thereby applied to the bare wood, or as fadding in, from the class of rubber employed. A fad, in French polishing, is the wadding from an old rubber used without any covering rag. It is essential that the sole, or working surface, of the fad shall be quite smooth and compact from use, as any roughness will be detrimental. Failing a suitable fad, a clean new rubber must be made, very firmly rolled and used with a covering rag.

157. The wadding is lightly charged with polish, enough being used to permit the fad to be worked freely and easily, and the rubber is then worked backwards and forwards over the surface of the wood in the direction of the grain until a thin transparent surface is produced. Very little pressure must be exerted on the fad, and no attempt should be made to use the rubber with a circular motion at this stage. The zigzag course of a fad during the operation of skinning in is indicated in Fig. 54 ; the polisher begins at a,works along the way of the grain to b, then back to c, and so on until the whole of the surface has been traversed and the fad reaches d. It is imperative that one application of polish shall be allowed to dry before another application is worked in. When skinning in with a zigzag motion similar to that shown in Fig. 54, the part a will be sufficiently dry to be worked over again by the time the polisher has brought his fad to the point d so that the work of putting on the second coating can be begun at once. The beginner should take note of the strict rule, to be observed in all processes, whether preliminary or finishing, that the rubber or the fad must never be brought to a standstill on the surface of the work.

158. Defects Observable After Fadding.—Defects that are observable during the process of skinning in, or after its completion, are chiefly what are termed whips or else the fault known as tearing up of the polish. Whips are streaks or splashes of polish caused by its squeezing out from the sides of the rubber the polish in consequence being unevenly distributed with irregular thickenings on the edges of the zigzag path of the fad. The tearing up of the skin of polish is caused either by having the rubber too wet or by going too frequently over a part of the work without allowing an adequate time for previous applications to dry ; the skin adheres to the rubber and is torn off.

If the fadding has been properly executed, it will be noted that the rubber has taken up a certain amount of oil from the surface of the wood and at the same time has deposited in its place a thin coating of shellac, since the spirit has evaporated during the drying of the liquid. The use of an uncovered fad permits of the wadding covering a larger surface than when in its wrapped state.

159. Rectifying Imperfections.—When the work has been all gone over with the fad, the article is stood on one side to harden, before undergoing the next stage of the polishing process. On rubbing the flat of the hand across the grain, after skinning in, a slight roughness will be discernible on the surface ; this is due to a little grain rising through absorption of the polish and also to a certain streakiness in the application of the skin owing to the fad having been moved in straight lines. As soon as the skin is sufficiently hard, these little roughnesses are removed with glass paper. Any other faults that are noticeable in the surface should now be rectified. These are most commonly places where the grain is is hungry or imperfectly filled, or other places slightly bruised. The hungry places are remedied by the application of a little filler to close the pores, and the bruises are filled with stopping, a composition of beeswax and resin coloured with an appropriate pigment. When the imperfections have been rectified, the whole surface is smoothed over with fine glass paper, and dusted off.


160. Manipulation of Polishing Rubber.—When the preliminary coat of polish has been applied by fadding in, the next process consists of bodying, or bodying in, the work, and has for object the application of a body of polish on the surface of the work, as may be gathered from the name of the process. The size and shape of the rubbers used in bodying are of great importance ; experience is, of course, the best guide to the proper sizes of rubbers suitable for pieces of different dimensions. Since the pointed extremity of the rubber is called the toe, the rounded extremity of the sole is called the heel of the rubber. The polisher sprinkles a little polish on the wadding from a bottle held in his right hand ; the covering rag is then bound round the wadding to form the desired shape and size of rubber, which is applied to the work in the same zigzag manner as employed in skinning in. By so doing the wet rubber is made to discharge some of the polish it contains and is given a flatter and more even sole for the circular motion of polishing ; in Fig. 55 is shown the nature of this motion, the rubber describing a series of interlaced loops. The pressure on the rubber must be very light at starting this circular motion, since otherwise polish will be exuded from the rubber, producing semicircular whips that will temporarily deface the work. The polisher usually refers to the operation of working out a wetted rubber as one rubber ; if the rubber is wetted or dipped up three times on a piece of work he has used three rubbers, and so on.

161. Use of Oil as Lubricant.—In addition to the polish bottle, it will be necessary to have at hand a small shallow vessel containing raw linseed oil for use in lubricating the rubber. As soon as the polisher has worked out the excess of polish and is ready to begin the circular polishing motion, he applies a little raw oil to the sole of the rubber with a finger of his left hand, which he has dipped into the saucer containing the oil. Sufficient oil should be put on the sole of the rubber to make a very faint smear on the surface. The pressure on the rubber is light at first, but is gradually increased as the rubber becomes drier ; each time it becomes dry the rubber is wetted with more polish, the process being continued until a sufficient body has been worked in. The rubber should not be lifted off the middle of the surface, but should be gently glided off at the end or side. Further, the light smear of lubricating oil must be removed with a dry rubber if the bodying is not finished at the time work is stopped.

162. Excess of Oil.—Beginners, as a rule, have a tendency to use too much linseed oil. The excess of .oil prevents the polish from hardening and becoming set and the next wet rubber that goes on will tear, or break up, the previous coat. Thus, instead of going straight ahead with his work, the polisher will have to put it aside until such time as it may have hardened sufficiently to undergo the process of cutting down, by which term is understood a more or less severe use of sharp glass paper backed up by the cork rubber to remove the irregularities of the surface. By easing down, on the contrary, is understood the use of fine glass paper already worn almost smooth. The method of using the cork rubber is shown in Fig. 56. To ascertain whether too much oil has been used, a finger can be drawn across the face of the polish. If a greasy mark appears, the oil is in excess and the superfluity must be wiped off, but if only a faint sign appears there is no excess of oil and the work can proceed. Another indication of an excess of oil is given when the sole of the rubber becomes shiny while still charged with polish. Although this latter sign may also be caused by using rag that has too close a texture or is too thick to allow the polish to come through readily, yet the true cause may soon be detected. Any excess of oil on the surface of the work should be removed before using the rubber again, by very slightly damping a duster with methylated spirits and wiping off the superfluous lubricant.

163. Fault of Ropiness.—Another common fault of beginners in polishing is the production of what is termed ropiness or wiriness, in which the polish on the outer edges of flat surfaces appears in ridges instead of being smooth and level. This fault is caused by working the edges in the manner indicated in Fig. 57, in which the circular motion has been properly carried out in the middle of the work but the edges have either been neglected or else the rubber has been carried straight along them, as indicated by the dotted lines a and b. Working the rubber in circles to the edge of the work should be assiduously practised, and it will be found easier to do so if the heel of the rubber is used more than its toe. To remedy ropiness, the work should be allowed to harden, the ropy parts gently eased down, and rebodied.

164. Bare, or Hungry Edges.—In polishing any flat surface, the commonest defect is what may be called bare, or hungry, edges. There is an inequality of surface, the centre being fairly well bodied, but the outer edges are practically bare of polish. If this defect is noticed, it must be rectified at once, the best plan being to let the work stay on one side until the polish has hardened, after which the surface is gently levelled down all over with very fine glass paper. The application of a spot or two of oil to the surface of the glass paper will assist in the cutting-down process, while it will also prevent the polish from adhering to the paper. The bare edges are then levelled up by the application of several wet rubbers, the polisher working inwards from the edges toward the middle and exerting more pressure on the rubber when covering the bare places.

165. Allowance for Sinkage.—Having obtained a smooth, full, and even surface, the polisher puts the work aside to allow the body to sink ; this is explained by the circumstance that the polish sinks into the wood as it hardens, the pores especially showing the sinkage where the. polish has been more readily absorbed. Owing to this cause, work cannot be satisfactorily finished at the bodying stage, but if it is desired to finish off the work at the next stage of the process, the body just described must have considerable substance to allow for sinkage. Work that has been papered down with a view to the removal of surface defects cannot be finished off in one operation only, since the marks made by the glass paper are liable to show through the finished surface. Special work that requires an extra finish is termed half-bodied when the body coat has been applied ; after the expiration of an allowance of 24 hours for sinkage and hardening, the half-bodied work is papered down with a cork rubber and No. 0 or flour glass paper until a smooth and even ground is obtained, after which bodying operations are recommenced.

166. Use of the Pumice Pounce.—In the process of bodying very open-grained wood, such as oak, it is frequently the practice to work powdered pumice stone with the polish. The pumice, reduced to a very fine powder, is contained in a bag known as a dolly or as a pumice pounce, which is made from a fine rag of close texture, permitting only the finest particles to escape when the pounce is shaken over the work. The application of pumice by this method requires great discretion, and it should never be dusted on when a newly wetted rubber is being used, since a certain amount of pressure must be exerted on the rubber to work the pumice powder in, while the rubber must be very lightly worked immediately after dipping in. As soon as the rubber has been worked a little dry, a very small quantity of pumice may be applied by the pounce to four or five spots on the surface, such as near each corner and in the middle of a rectangular piece, and this is worked in over the whole surface by the rubber. If too much pumice is applied, the surface will become rough and need to be smoothed down again with glass paper.


167. Definition of Bodying Up.—The process of bodying up may be defined as the second stage of bodying, the object being to make up sinkage and produce a smooth substantial surface that will last ; although in cheap and inferior work bodying up may be omitted altogether, the process is most essential to good work. It is necessary before bodying up to remove all roughness of the surface, and any easing down that may be required should be completed; places that have been cut down to an exceptional depth should be re-bodied and allowed to stand and harden. It is always advisable, if possible, to allow several days to elapse between bodying in and bodying up a piece of work, since greater security is thereby afforded against sinking in the finished work. The rubbers used by the polisher for bodying up should be selected from rubbers that have been much used for bodying in, and which have been worked out thoroughly dry at the end of that process. The wadding hearts, or cores, are never unravelled nor crumpled in any way, but are kept shapely for use when required. The covering rags used with the rubbers for bodying in are removed and replaced by other rags, which should be of rather closer texture than those employed in the earlier stages of bodying.

168. Working Rubber in Bodying Up.—In working the rubber when freshly dipped up, during the bodying-up process, -only a very light pressure is applied, thus avoiding the production of whips that will show plainly on the finished surface. - The rubber should be worked in closely, looped circles that cover the whole of the surface, the course of the rubber being occasionally varied by taking it straight across and through the circular smears already formed, as indicated by the straight lines in Fig. 58. This operation is repeated until the polish is quite worked out of the rubber and evenly distributed over the work. As the rubber gets drier the pressure is gradually increased until the polish is exhausted; the amount of oil used as a lubricant must be as limited as possible. A transparent smear, known as the silver smear, must always be present during bodying up, and is gradually reduced and made more transparent during the process until near its end the smear has been almost entirely worked away. When sufficient polish has been put on the piece, to produce a smooth body, the polish is weakened by the addition of spirit as it is applied to the rubber, a few drops of spirit being put on the rubber first before the polish is poured on it, the spirit having a tendency to work the polish out of the rubber. The smear appears and vanishes as the rubber works over the surface. The last rubber used in bodying up is worked until it is dried out and the surface left quite free of smears. If there are any rubber marks or whips in the work they will now be apparent, and their presence is a sign of inferior workmanship, for they must be removed, possibly by cutting down, which will entail a second bodying up.

169. Avoidance of Rubber Marks.—The inclination of the beginner is to add more oil in order to obtain a smear, but this course will be found disastrous. If the sole of the rubber is examined when the smear has worked off it will invariably be seen that the rubber has become hard and glazed. This glaze is caused by oil adhering to the cloth because there is no spirit in the rubber to mix with the oil and produce a smear. The remedy consists in recharging the rubber and taking a clean part of the rag for covering the sole. As a precautionary measure against the production of rubber marks and whips, it is advisable, after dipping up and covering the rubber with rag, to press the sole firmly on a clean surface, such as the back of a piece of glass paper, thus distributing the polish in the rubber equally over the surface of the latter.

170.Prevention of Chilling.—Damp air affects the gums composing spirit polish and varnish, causing them to turn white or milky and producing the condition termed chilled. Where it is imperative that the work should be proceeded with in an uncongenial atmosphere, the use of naphtha polish, or that made with wood alcohol, will be found of great advantage owing to the very rapid drying of that particular spirit. Another helpful measure is the warming of the polish while being used, the employment of warmed naphtha polish largely preventing chilling. It must be understood, however, that nothing can be a satisfactory substitute for a work place properly warmed.


171. Spiriting Off.—After a piece of work has been finally bodied up and the polish allowed to harden, it is ready for the finishing processes. The operation known as spiriting off, drying out, or finishing out produces the highest degree of finish obtainable by the standard methods followed in the United Kingdom. The work is first dusted, and then given two or three rubbers of half-and-half, which is a mixture in equal proportions of polish and methylated spirits. This dipping-up mixture is further slightly diluted for one or two subsequent rubbers, each being worked out until the rubber is thoroughly dry ; hence the application of the term drying out. The movement of the rubber throughout the spiriting-off process is rapid, but with the application of very firm and even pressure. The polish that is used in the composition of the half-and-half depends on the judgment or taste of the polisher ; although white polish is probably employed most often, many men find they can do better finishing work with other kinds. The number of rubbers of half-and-half used depends on circumstances, and also on the skill and experience of the polisher, a good man being often able to finish out a piece with two rubbers of half-and-half followed by one rubber damped with spirits only.

172. Special rubbers are used for the final stage, in which spirit alone is applied. These are made from clean white flannel doubled and folded on itself to produce a smooth unwrinkled sole and a pointed toe to work into the corners. The rubber is covered with two or three thicknesses of rag, which are removed one at a time as they become dry. In no circumstances should these spirit rubbers be used with polish. The spirit rubber, after the damping has been performed, should be pressed on a clean surface to cause the spirit to penetrate beneath the surface of the rubber and not to leave the latter wet. Care must be exercised in applying the spirit to the rubber, for unless the quantity is rigorously limited there is danger of burning the polish underneath ; that is to say, the spirit being a solvent of the gums composing polish, any excess will tend to soften the body of polish, causing the surface to lose its brilliancy and become dull, while a second wet rubber may actually dissolve the damaged place so that the polish tears up. When the surface is approaching a finished condition, the rubber is moved along the grain and not across it nor with any circular motion. The work may be finally floated up, by which is meant the rubbing of a few drops of spirit into the smooth face of a rolled-up piece of rag that is then gently but swiftly passed over the surface. Some workmen use a few drops of glaze in the final spiriting rubber with great advantage.

173. Glazed Finish.—The operation of spiriting off is extremely difficult of performance on small mouldings and turnings; hence, recourse must be had to other processes whereby the necessary bright and glossy finished surface may be obtained on such parts. Glaze is made by digesting gum benzoin in methylated spirit, in the proportion of 6 ounces of gum to 1 pint of spirit ; the mixture is carefully strained before putting in the bottle for use. Glaze is not used as much in modern practice as was formerly the case ; many cheaper substitutes are also used in the present day, such as toppings and combinations of cheaper gums, such as copal, mastic, and arabic. A glazed finish is not obtained through friction as is the case in spiriting off, the glaze being simply laid on with a clean rubber, this being made rather wetter than is the rule with polish. The glaze is then laid on in the form of a varnish by a few quick strokes of the rubber in the direction of the grain of the wood.

174. Stiffing Up.—In the language of the polishing shop, a surface is said to be stiff when it is free from oil. Stiffing up is the term applied to an expeditious modern process of finishing off polished work in which the oil is taken off the surface by means of the polishing rubber, working parallel with the grain of the wood. The preliminary processes are the same as those already described, namely, filling in, fadding, and bodying ; after bodying in, the work is laid aside to permit of sinkage and hardening, and is then taken up for stiffing up. Sometimes the work is allowed to become quite hard, is well cut down with fine glass paper, and is re-bodied twice before stiffing up ; but cutting down is not usually resorted to. The ordinary wadding rubber is used, and the early portion of the finishing process is practically a repetition of the bodying operations, but especial care is taken in working the two last rubbers to ensure that no visible marks are left in the surface. The final rubber is not wetted so heavily as in bodying, and is worked in straight lines parallel with the grain, endeavours being made gradually to work away all oil so as to leave a stiff surface. Different methods are adopted for the manipulation of the final rubber in stiffing up, according to the kind of polish that is being used or to the judgment of the polisher, a few drops of spirit being added at times while the final rubber may be dipped up with garnet, white, or transparent polish, in accordance with the experience or taste of the workman. The rubbers are not worked dry during this method of finishing ; they are also left soft, and not firm and compact as are the rubbers used when bodying up and spiriting off.


175. Stopping for Unpolished Wood.—During the course of polishing, various defects may become apparent in the wood, such as dents or bruises caused by accident, or by knocking small piece off a corner ; natural defects in the wood may also be revealed. Dents and bruises may be filled up with a stopping adapted to the wood worked on. Where the wood is in the white, or unpolished, a very hard stopping should be employed, or a stopping at least as hard as the wood itself. The stopping is procurable at any cabinet-makers’ supply stores in sticks of convenient size, or it may be made by melting together in an iron vessel equal proportions of pure beeswax and resin, to which sufficient colouring matter is added to produce the desired shade. Common sealing wax of the required colour may also be used. On light-coloured woods, shellac alone will form an efficient stopping. To apply these stoppings, an old flat file should be heated, and with this sufficient stopping should be melted from the stick to fill the hollow and worked in while it is in a plastic state. At the expiration of a few minutes’ time, the stopping will have set, and can then be smoothed down level, using the flat cork rubber with medium or fine glass paper.

176. Stopping for Polished Wood.—A slightly softer stopping than that already described must be used on work that is polished and which it is not desired to clean off down to the bare wood. If ready-made stopping is not used, a suitable composition may be made by melting in an old spoon 3 parts of pure beeswax to 1 part of powdered resin, mixing in colouring matter to the desired shade while hot. This stopping should be taken from the spoon while hot, and worked into the holes or hollows with a hot file or other tool. When set, the composition is gently cleaned off level with well-worn fine glass paper.

177. Colouring Stopping.—A list of suitable pigments for colouring stopping to match different woods is here given ; in all cases, the dry powdered form of pigment should be used. To colour stopping to match Chippendale mahogany, use equal amounts of Vandyke brown and Venetian red ; Venetian red should be used if matching light mahogany. To match walnut, the stopping should be coloured with Vandyke brown, yellow ochre being used for satin walnut. For fumed oaks the stopping may be made of white wax -and amber resin, coloured to match the shade of the wood with either yellow ochre, gas black, Vandyke brown, or brown umber. Stopping for ebony is coloured with gas black or with vegetable black.


178. Preparation of Carved Work for Polishing.—Special care must be taken in staining carved work, since the numerous edges of the carving expose much end grain, which will absorb the stain more readily than the less porous face of the wood. It will be found advantageous to weaken the stain for the carved portions. After staining, the carving should be made perfectly smooth by the aid of worn glass paper, and an old nail brush will be found of great assistance in smoothing the small parts where the use of glass paper would be inadmissible on account of possible damage to the sharp edges, which must be retained. Carvings should not be oiled unless it is necessary to obtain a specified colour, and in that case the oil is diluted with an equal quantity of turpentine.

179. Dry Shining.—It is inadvisable to put any body of polish on carvings, as by so doing the clear-cut lines and sharp arrises would be obliterated. Where not otherwise specified, carved work is best left dry shined. Dry shining is a process much resembling skinning in, and the term implies the working up to a finished surface of a thin coating of polish by means of a fad. The same process is often referred to as egg-shell finish, on account of the thinness of the body of polish; the American term for this is mission finish. It is advisable to give the carvings a coat of half-and-half with a brush as soon as they are ready to receive the polish ; this will ensure the coating of all the quirks and recesses with polish. After this, the carvings will be worked up with ordinary polish applied with a half-dry fad. Although the work will resemble skinning in, dry shining is a finished process and so the surface must be produced absolutely free from any traces of oil or stickiness.

180. Polishing Turned Work.—Turned work is filled in by the polisher in the usual manner whenever it is possible, but if a small piece off a corner ; natural defects in the wood may also be revealed. Dents and bruises may be filled up with a stopping adapted to the wood worked on. Where the wood is in the white, or unpolished, a very hard stopping should be employed, or a stopping at least as hard as the wood itself. the stopping is procurable at any cabinetmakers’ supply stores in sticks of convenient size, or it may be made by melting together in an iron vessel equal proportions of pure beeswax and resin, to which sufficient colouring matter is added to produce the desired shade. Common sealing wax of the required colour may also be used. On light-coloured woods, shellac alone will form an efficient stopping. To apply these stoppings, an old flat file should be heated, and with this sufficient stopping should be melted from the stick to fill the hollow and worked in while it is in a plastic state. At the expiration of a few minutes’ time, the stopping will have set, and can then be smoothed down level, using the flat cork rubber with medium or fine glass paper.

turned piece contains a number of flutes and other details that would tend to retain a surplus of filler, this process is dispensed with. It is a good rule to fill in as much as possible, and the polisher must exercise considerable judgment respecting the parts on which filling in is omitted. Large turned pieces are most easily polished in a lathe, but this method of procedure is generally impracticable owing to the turnings being fitted up into the articles of which they form a part. It is a good plan to work the polish on turnings by the use of an old rubber as a fad, since in the circumstances the rubber will work better if not covered with a rag ; care must be taken, that the fad has a smooth face and that no loose thread nor fluff is liable to become detached and stick to the work. The turning is bodied in the usual manner, a little oil being used as already described. If so desired, turned work may be given a thin coating of varnish after having been skinned in ; when this is done, the work is put aside for the varnish to dry hard, the surface is then eased down, and the bodying is afterwards completed in the usual way. In good work, the turnings are spirited off wherever possible, the small details being lightly glazed and finished off with a spirit rubber. Work of an inferior quality is merely stiffened off.

181. Polishing Mouldings.—Mouldings are not filled in preparatory to polishing unless the sections are large enough to permit of their thorough cleaning out. If the moulding is filled in, care must be taken that the wiping-off or cleaning processes do not injure any of the details ; every effort must be made so that the members of the mouldings show up sharply and clearly after polishing, a sure indication of faulty workmanship being seen when the changes of section instead of being sharply defined are partly filled up with polish and rounded. Glass-papering must be very carefully performed to preserve the sharpness of the arrises, especially with stained work, as explained elsewhere. In all other respects, the process of polishing mouldings is similar to that already advised for turned work. When polishing mouldings or small work generally, it is advisable both for ease in working and for economy of time to operate on a number of pieces together. By this means a uniform body and tone of colouring are given to all pieces. Mouldings can be given a cleaner finish if polished in lengths, being simply touched up after having been mitred or fitted into position.

182. Bleaching.—The polisher frequently receives work in which there is an exceptionally dark part that requires to be made lighter in colour, or in which there are stains that must be removed. For this purpose a bleach is used, the most common bleaching agent being oxalic acid, or salts of lemon. This acid, which is a strong irritant poison, is obtained in crystals, and the bleach is made by dissolving 1 ounce of these crystals in 1 pint of methylated spirits ; water may also be used for making the solution if desired. The bleach is generally applied with a piece of wadding, but it is a much better plan to use a brush, since that avoids the risk of acid getting on the fingers. As soon as the bleach has taken effect it should be well rinsed off the wood, as its presence will be deleterious both to the wood and to the ultimate colour and body of the polish. If the bleach has beenmade with spirits, the rinsing should be done with spirits, bleach made with water being rinsed off with that liquid.

183. Use of the Besom.—While finishing polished work, it is frequently found that small specks of dust, termed nibs or lice by the workmen, work in on the body of the polish, thus rendering the finish faulty. To obviate the need of glass paper, which, however fine, would cause scratches, a tool termed a besom is used to remove the nibs ; its appearance and method of use are shown in Fig. 59. The besom is made from a strip of felt that has been well soaked in raw linseed oil and which is tightly rolled up while wet, the end being secured by a few stitches with stout thread. The roll is then allowed to become quite dry and hard, after which its sole is dressed down to a perfectly-smooth surface. This is done by roughly trimming one end level with a sharp knife, after which it is rubbed down to smoothness on a piece of glass paper stretched on a flat board. When in use, the sole of the besom is moistened with raw oil and a few grains of pumice powder are shaken over it. The besom is then gently applied to the uneven surface in the manner shown in Fig. 59, and the little excrescences are speedily removed without injuring the polish. It is better to work the besom with the grain than with an irregular or circular motion.


184. Sweat on Polished Surfaces.—The term sweat is very generally applied to the effects that are produced by oil from the pores of the wood working through the polish. At first, it presents a dull, greasy, cloudy appearance characterized as bloom; if this is not promptly dealt with, the oil may harden into minute veins or excrescences incrusting the surface over the larger pores, the name of sweat being usually employed to distinguish this more advanced stage of deterioration. There are many causes of sweat in polished work, the principal being the use of an excess of oil during the various stages of the polishing process ; the wood may .also possess a very open grain that has absorbed oil very quickly during polishing. When the sweat appears as a bloom, and first begins to cloud the lustre of the piece, it may easily be removed by the use of a suitable reviver, or liquid composition for restoring brilliancy to polish, applied with a soft cloth and well rubbed in. If the exudations of oil are allowed to harden and form incrustations it will be necessary to repolish the work. Many polishes and oils are stated by their makers to be non-sweating, and the use of such may possibly be advantageous, but the evil of sweating is best avoided by careful manipulation and good workmanship. If reasonable attention is paid to polished work and it is treated with reviver at regular intervals, the surface will maintain its lustre.

185. Methods of Reviving Polish.—The most expeditious method, for the practical man, of reviving French polish consists of lightly washing the polished surface with a very weak solution of washing soda in water, wherever necessary ; the work is then smeared with an oily piece of wadding, is wiped off with a clean rag, and the surface is finally floated up with a few drops of spirits on a soft cloth until all smears are removed. This method is as effective as any polish reviver possibly can be, but with inexperienced hands its adoption is attended by risk of injury to the surface owing to possibly incorrect application of the spirits during floating up. The various ingredients composing revivers, other than those already mentioned, are usually vinegar, turpentine, and butyr of antimony. The vinegar has a slight cleansing action on the surface to which it is applied, and assists in keeping the oil in solution; turpentine assists in removing any grease present on the work and also helps to dry the oil. The butyr of antimony is added as a combining agent, preventing the various ingredients of a reviver from separating out ; it is a strongly acid liquid, poisonous in its properties, which is really a solution of antimony in hydrochloric acid. Some polishers use the latter acid, under the name of spirits of salts, as an ingredient in revivers instead of butyr of antimony.

186. Recipe for Polish Reviver.—A polish reviver, suitable for application to new work, and which can be used by inexperienced persons, is composed of equal quantities of raw linseed oil, methylated spirits, turpentine, and vinegar. The measured quantity of oil is first poured into a clean bottle and the vinegar is added to the oil, the bottle being shaken until the two liquids have. thoroughly mixed together. Old ale is sometimes advantageously substituted for the vinegar, the quantity of ale being about 50 per cent. more than that of the vinegar it replaces. The turpentine is next put in and, after the contents of the bottle have been well shaken, this is followed by the methylated spirits. Butyr of antimony is added to the mixture in the proportion of 2 tablespoonfuls to 1 pint of reviver. The reviver must be well shaken each time before using, a few drops being put on a piece of wadding and well rubbed on the furniture, finishing off the operation by polishing with soft cloths,


187.  The method of treating polished work, known as German, or glass, finish, differs materially from the practice of finishing by spiriting off already described. In the German process, a little pumice powder is dusted on the rubber at each dipping up when bodying ; the powder is dusted over the wadding, the latter is wetted with the polish, and the covering rag is then wrapped round the rubber in the ordinary way. The process of finishing is carried out much in the manner customary in the United Kingdom, except that the application of the spirit rubber is omitted, while considerable pressure is exerted as the rubbers dry. For the final operations in finishing, vitriol is diluted with clean fresh water in the proportion of 1 teaspoonful of acid to 1 pint of water ; and a pounce containing the preparation variously known as Berlin, or Vienna, chalk is also necessary. The diluted vitriol is kept in a bottle, which should have a glass stopper, since acid would rot away a cork ; the bottle must be well shaken before use. The solution may be applied in various ways, a good plan being to moisten a small piece of wadding which is dabbed here and there over the surface to be finished. The chalk is then dusted over the moistened places, and vitriol and chalk are kneaded into the surface with the heel of the open hand, palm downwards, the hand being worked in all directions. This finishing process leaves a highly polished surface, known from its crystal clearness and brilliancy as a glass surface. Some polishers substitute powdered cuttlefish bone for the pumice powder used in dipping up, while rotten-stone is used in the same way, but only on dark-coloured woods.