The following is a description of how wood carvings are finished by staining and wax-polishing. Before staining wood carvings, the surface must be made very smooth to prevent the wood swelling on the application of the stain. For this purpose, polish the surface with a wad of very thin soft shavings, firmly pressing with the hand until a faint lustre appears. Fine varieties of wood should not be stained. Walnut, pear, oak, plum, and mahogany retain their natural colour, and are waxed only and subsequently brushed, by which means they attain a somewhat darker tone and antique appearance. A handsome dark-brown shade on waluut is obtained by first coating the wood with linseed oil in which alkanet root has been infused, and polishing after twenty-four hours. A simple method of staining carvings is to coat with a dilute solution of potassium chromate and then with a dilute solution of potassium permanganate. By varying the strength of the solutions and the number of applications, all woods, from the hardest to the softest, can be 6tained effectively. It is wise to try the stains on a piece of board first; after staining with the potassium permanganate, wash out the brush in water, or the salt will destroy the bristles.
An antique shade on oak carvings is obtained by staining with umber which has been boiled in water with a little potash. Wood stained in this manner is not polished, but it receives a covering of limpid varnish. For wax-polishing carved work, benzine wax is preferred to turpentine wax because it does not clog the tine lines and notches so much. To prepare benzine wax, put small pieces of white wax into a vessel, cover the wax with benzine, and closely stopper the vessel and allow to stand for a day in a cool place; care is needed in these operations, as benzine is highly inflammable. A thick paste will form; remove a little of this with a knife or spatula and dilute it with benzine in a flat dish to about the consistency of milk, and apply this to the carved work by means of a moderately soft bristle paint brush. After standing for a few minutes, brush out all the corners and cavities with a good bristle brush, when a faint lustre will appear. To give a red tinge to the wax, add a little of an infusion of alkanet in benzine ; for blue, add a solution of Prussian blue in benzine ; and for a mahogany colour, use Cassel brown.
After use, clean the brushes, etc., with a hot soda solution.