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.
Take 1 qt. alcohol, 3 oz. ground turmeric, 1 1/2 oz. powdered gamboge. When steeped to its full strength, strain through fine muslin. It is then ready for use. Apply with a piece of fine sponge, giving the work 2 coats. When dry, sandpaper down very fine. It is then ready for polish or varnish, and is a good imitation of satinwood.
The wood is treated in a bath made up with 4 1/4 oz. olive-oil, the same weight of soda-ash, and 2 1/2 pints boiling water, and it is then dyed with magenta to which a corresponding quantity of tin crystals has been added.
(1) One method is, after careful rubbing with glasspaper, to go over the surface with a preparation of Cassel brown boiled in a lye of soft-soap and soda. After drying, the surface is rubbed over with pumice and oil, and polished with shellac. The Cassel brown will not take equally well on all kinds of wood, so that if not laid on thick it sometimes comes off under the subsequent pumicing; whilst on the other hand this same thickness conceals, more or less, the grain on the wood beneath, giving it the appearance of having been painted.
(2) Others use instead a decoction of green walnut-shells, dried and boiled in the same lye, or in soft water to which soda has been added. The decoction of walnut-shells is apt to come off on the clothes as a yellowish adhesive substance.
(3) Others, again, employ catechu and potash chromate in equal parts, boiled separately and afterwards mixed. The mixture of catechu and potash chromate leaves a reddish-brown deposit on the surface of the wood, very unlike real walnut.
(4) The following is said to be a very superior method fur staining any kind of wood in imitation of walnut, while it is also cheap and simple in its manipulation. The wood, previously thoroughly dried and warmed, is coated once or twice with a stain composed of 1 oz. extract of walnut peel dissolved in 6 oz. soft water by heating it to boiling, and stirring. The wood thus treated, when half dry, is brushed with a solution of 1 oz. potash bichromate in 5 oz. boiling water, and is then allowed to dry thoroughly and is to be rubbed and polished as usual. Red beech and alder, under this treatment assume a most deceptive resemblance to American walnut. The colour is fixed in the wood to a depth of one or two lines.
(5) Mix dragons' blood and lampblack in methylated spirits till you get the colour required, and rub it well into the grain of the wood.
Dissolve 1 part potassium permanganate in 30 of pure water, and apply twice in succession; after an interval of 5 minutes, wash with clean water, and when dry, oil and polish.
Same as for light walnut, but after the washing with water the dark veins are made more prominent with a solution of iron acetate.
(8) In the winter season get some privet berries (black), which grow in most gardens, and put 2 oz. in 1 1/2 pint solution of liquid ammonia. This, applied to pine, varnished or polished, cannot be detected from real walnut itself.
(9) Take 1 gal. very thin sized shellac; add 1 lb. dry burnt umber, 1 lb. dry burnt sienna, and 1/4 lb. lampblack. Put these articles into a jug and shake frequently until they are mixed. Apply one coat with a brush. When the work is dry, rub down with fine paper, and apply one coat of shellac or cheap varnish. It will then be a good imitation of solid walnut, and will be adapted for the back boards of mirror-frames, for the back and inside of casework, and for similar work.
(10) Take 1 gal. strong vinegar, 1 lb. dry burnt umber, 1/2 lb. fine rose pink, 1/2 lb. dry burnt Vandyke brown. Put into a jug and mix well; let the mixture stand one day, and it will then be ready for use. Apply this stain to the sap with a piece of fine sponge, it will dry in 1/2 hour. The whole piece is then ready for the filling process. When the work is completed, the stained part cannot be detected even by those who have performed the job. By means of this recipe, wood of poor quality and mostly of sap can be used with good effect.