This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
The simplest and probably the best is made by dissolving 1 1/2 lb. shellac in 1 gal. spirits of wine without heat. Other gums are sometimes used, and the polish may be darkened by adding benzoin, or it may be coloured with dragon's blood. It is used chiefly for mahogany work, in joinery, hand-rails, etc, and is applied by rubbing it well into the surface of the wood, which has been previously made smooth by sandpaper, etc. (See also p. 465.)
Hardwood lacquer is made by dissolving 2 lb. shellac in 1 gal. spirits of wine. It is generally used for turned articles, being applied to them with a rag while they are on the lathe.