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.
It is a common proceeding to impart a brilliant lustrous surface to finished work by the operation of polishing. The methods of conducting the operation and the materials employed to produce the effect vary with the nature of the substance forming the ground to be polished. Hence it is best to divide the subject into appropriate sections, e. g. marble, metals, and woods.
Mix together 1 oz. fine chalk, 3 oz. pipeclay, 2 oz. dry white-lead, 3/4 oz. carbonate magnesia, and 3/4 oz. rouge.
(1) Make a paste of equal parts of sulphur and chalk, with sufficient vinegar to reduce it to the proper consistency; apply it to the metal while moist, allow it to dry on, and rub with a chamois skin. For ornaments or engraved work, clean with a brush.
(2) Another process, and one that gives to the brass a very brilliant colour, is to make a wash of alum boiled in strong lye, in the proportion of 1 oz. alum to 1 pint lye. Wash the brass with this mixture, and afterwards rub with chamois and tripoli.
(3) A weak solution of ammonia in water makes an excellent wash. Apply it with a rag, dry with a piece of shammy, and afterwards rub with a piece of shammy and a very small quantity of jewellers' rouge.
(4) Place 2 oz. sulphuric acid in an earthen vessel, and add 1 qt. cold soft water; after the heat that is generated has passed off, add 1 oz. each tripoli and jewellers' rouge. When well mixed, put in a bottle for use.
(6) Small articles to be polished should be shaken by themselves for a short time; then some greasy parings of leather should be put in the barrel with them. After they have been shaken smooth, the greasy leather parings are replaced by clean ones, and the shaking is continued as long as necessary.
(7) When the brass is made smooth by turning, or filing with a very fine file, it may be rubbed with a smooth fine-grained stone, or with charcoal and water. When it is made quite smooth and free from scratches, it may be polished with rottenstone and oil, alcohol, or spirits of turpentine.