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.
(54) 1 gal. soft water, 4 oz. soap, 1 lb. white wax in shavings; boil these together and add 2 oz. pearlash. This is to be diluted with water, laid on the furniture with a paint brush, and polished off with a cloth or a hard brush.
(55) Dissolve 1 1/2 lb. potash and 1 lb. virgin wax in 1 gal. hot water, and boil the whole for 1/2 hour; then stand to cool. Remove the wax from the surface, put it into a mortar, and triturate it with a marble pestle, adding sufficient soft water to form a soft paste. This laid neatly on furniture, or even on pictures, and carefully rubbed when dry with a woollen rag, gives a polish of great brilliancy and softness.
(56) Household furniture is readily cleaned by washing it with a little warm ale, the polish being brought up subsequently by means of a cloth damped with paraffin oil. The following has been strongly recommended for renovating old furniture and bringing up a good polish : - Take olive oil 1 lb., rectified oil of amber 1 lb., spirits of turpentine I lb., oil of lavender 1 oz., tincture of alkanet root 1/2 oz. Saturate a piece of cotton batting with this polish, apply it to the wood, then, with soft and dry cotton rags, rub well and wipe off dry. Keep the polish in a stoppered bottle.
(57) Pure beeswax, 1 1/4 lb.; linseed oil, 1/4 lb. Melt together and remove from the fire, and when the mixture has cooled a little, add 1 qt. turpentine, and mix well. The way to make it with soda would be to dissolve the soda in hot water, add the wax in small pieces, and mix well over the fire. The former method is preferable.
(58) A high polish on ebony, one that will be durable. Give the work 2 coats of fine copal varnish, and rub this down (when dry) quite smooth with fine pumice, put on a third coat of the same, and rub down with rottenstone; clean and put on a flowing coat of best spirit copal varnish, and when this has become quite dry, polish with chamois skin and the palm of the hand.
(59) Polishing Black Woodwork. - Procure 2 1/2 oz. spirits of wine, 1 dr. oil of almonds, 1 dr. gum elemi, 1/2 oz. orange shellac, pounded fine and put together in a bottle to dissolve; when dissolved, rub on with white wadding.
(60) Orange shellac, 2 oz.; wood naphtha, 1/2 pint; benzoin, 2 dr. Mix and put in warm place for a week, and keep the materials from settling by shaking it up. To apply it, after having prepared your wood by rubbing some raw linseed oil into it, and then wiping it well off again, make a rubber of cotton-wool, and put some old calico over the face, and till you have a good body on your wood keep the rubber well saturated with polish. "When your rubber sticks, put a very little linseed oil on and rub your polish up. Allow it to stand a few hours, and give it another coat, using rather more linseed oil on your rubber, so as to get a finer polish. Then let it stand again and finish off with spirits of naphtha, if you can; if not, add a small quantity of polish to your spirit.
(61) Polishing Deal. - To as much yellow ochre as you can take in your hand add 1/2 teaspoonful of Venetian red. Mix to the thickness of paint (or rather thinner) with glue size. Let the mixture simmer for some time in a pan, keeping it well stirred. Apply with a brush, and when dry run it over with fine sandpaper and polish with French polish, or, if preferred, turpentine and beeswax. If a deeper colour is required, add more Venetian red. O.
(62) Melt about 1/4 lb. Russian glue in 1 qt. water; grind in some Venetian red until sufficiently coloured; give the wood a coat with a brush when dry.
(63) Egg-shell Polish for Antique Furniture. This is done by first bodying-up your work, and, after standing 12 hours, again body-up with white polish; it is next rubbed down with a felt rubber and pumice until sufficiently dull; it is then wax-polished, giving the work a gloss instead of a polish.
(64) Dry Shining. - This is a new system of polishing or shining called the American system, and is used mostly for American black walnut. First oil, fill in then with a wet rubber passed smartly over the work straight from end to end until a shine or gloss appears. No oil to be used in the rubber, and no spiriting-off is required. Be careful to dry rubber well, and have the work free from rubber marks. This system is becoming very popular in the trade.
(65) Imitation Polish for Woodwork. - The wood is first varnished over with gelatine, and, after drying and smoothing, with a mixture of 2 1/4 lb. fluid copal varnish, and 4 dr. pure drying linseed oil; after drying, the wood is polished with an ethereal solution of wax.
(66) Wax Polishing. - There is no particular art in wax-polishing floors, the principal requirements being plenty of elbow-grease and a good hard brush. The floor, after being well scrubbed, is allowed to dry. When dry it is painted over with a large, soft whitewash-brush dipped in oak stain. This is allowed to dry for 24 hours. The floor is then gone over with thin size, and this is in turn allowed to dry for 24 hours. After this, the floor is painted over with a kind of varnish made by dissolving beeswax in spirits of turpentine, the proportions being about 1 lb. of wax to 2 qt. of turps. The wax is shredded, placed along with the turps in a stone bottle, and the whole put on the hob and frequently shaken. When this varnish has soaked well in, the whole floor is polished with a rather hard brush until a good surface is obtained. Special brushes, adapted to polishing waxed floors, are sold by oilmen.
(67) Wood Finish. - Richness of effect may be gained in decorative woodwork by using woods of different tone, such as amaranth and amboyna, by inlaying and veneering. The Hungarian ash and French walnut afford excellent veneers, especially the burls or gnarls. A few useful notes on the subject are given by a recent American authority. In varnishing, the varnishes used can be toned down to match the wood, or be made to darken it, by the addition of colouring matters. The patented compositions known as "wood fillers" are made up in different colours for the purpose of preparing the surface of wood previous to the varnishing. They fill up the pores of the wood, rendering the surface hard and smooth. For polishing mahogany, walnut, etc, the following is recommended: Dissolve beeswax by heat in spirits of turpentine until the mixture becomes viscid; then apply by a clean cloth, and rub thoroughly with a flannel or cloth. A common mode of polishing mahogany is by rubbing it first with linseed oil and then by a cloth dipped in very fine brickdust; a good gloss may also be produced by rubbing with linseed oil, and then holding trimmings or shavings of the same material against the work in the lathe.
Glasspaper, followed by rubbing, also gives a good lustre. (Scient. Amer..