These are generally applied by the house painter, ready for the grainer. When the grounds are finished to the tint required for the woods to be imitated, they must be left to get quite dry; the work is then ready for the graining operations.


The colours used to give the various effects are as follows: -

Bird's-eye Maple and Satin Wood - White-lead mixed with a little yellow ochre, care being taken not to make the ground of too dark a tint, as the varnish to be afterwards applied will still further darken it. All the colours for light grounds must be rubbed quite smooth, and be well strained.


Orange chrome,Venetian red, and white-lead mixed in such proportions as will give the desired tint. Vermilion, raw and burnt sienna, are also employed to modify the shades.



(a) Raw sienna, burnt umber, white-lead, and Venetian red.

(6) Yellow ochre, Venetian red, and white-lead.

Dark Wainscot

Oxford ochre, white-lead and Venetian red; or chrome, yellow ochre, and white-lead.


Yellow ochre and white-lead; the desired tint is obtained by the use of more or less of the yellow ochre.


Vermilion, Venetian red, a little scarlet lake, and white-lead. For ordinary work the scarlet lake may be dispensed with styles.

Bird's - Eye Maple

(a) Graining colour - equal parts of raw sienna and burnt umber mixed in ale, of two thicknesses. First lay on an even coat of the thinner mixture, then with a smaller brush put in the darker shades, mottle and soften with a badger-hair brush. The eye is imitated by dabbing the colour whilst still wet with the tops of the fingers. When dry, put on the top grain in. the most prominent places, and shade the eyes with a little burnt sienna. Some grainers use small brushes called maple eye-dotters, instead of the fingers, for forming the eyes. Various forms of brushes are used for the mottling; some consist of short camel hair closely set, whilst to give the wavy appearance hog-hair mottlers are used, with long hairs, against which the fingers are pressed as the brush is drawn over the work, causing it to assume a variety of pleasing curves. The lines to imitate the heart of the wood are put in with a small brush, and the outer lines parallel to the heart are formed with the over-graining brush.

Overgraining brushes for maple consist of a number of small sable brushes mounted at a little distance from each other in a frame, and resembling a comb in its appearance.

(6) Grind equal parts of raw and burnt sienna in a mixture of water and ale. Coat the work evenly with this colour, then rub it down with a long piece of buff leather, cut straight at the edge and pressed closely against the work. Proceed for the imitation of the eyes and heart of the wood as before directed.

(c) For outside work grind the raw and burnt sienna with a little of the patent driers, and then with boiled oil. Lay on an even coat, and rub down with a piece of buff leather. Soften, and when dry put on a top grain of burnt umber and raw sienna ground in ale.

(d) Burnt umber or Vandyke brown laid on unevenly, darker in some places than in others, after the character of the wood; a coarse sponge does for this purpose very well.

When the colour is disposed over the surface, it must be softened down with the badger-hair tool, and the knots put in with the end of a hog's-hair fitch, by holding the handle between the thumb and finger, and twisting it round; these knots may be afterwards assisted by a camel-hair pencil. A few small veins are frequently found in maple; these may be wiped off with a piece of wash-leather. When this is dry, the second or upper grain may be put on; some of the first colour diluted will do for this second grain. To put on this grain, use the flat hog-hair brush, and the hairs combed out to straighten or separate them. As soon as the grain is put on, the softener should be passed lightly across the grain in one direction only; this will make one edge of the grain soft and the other sharp, as it occurs in the wood. After the second grain is dry it may be varnished.


(a) First lay on a coat of light grey, of white-lead ground in boiled oil, add a little Prussian blue, and mix with turpentine. For ground colour use the same paint made much thinner with turpentine, laid on as soon as the first coat is dry. The ground colour must only be applied on a small piece at a time, as it must be grained before it dries. For the graining use some of the ground colour, to which add a little Prussian blue, apply this with a feather, in long veins. Over grain with the ground colour.

(6) Mix white-lead and turpentine, and add a little Prussian blue, for the ground colour. For the graining colour, Prussian blue and raw sienna ground in ale. When the ground is dry, lay on a thin coat of the graining colour and soften; put on the long grain with a mottler drawn across the work. Soften, and overgrain in a perpendicular but wavy figure.


(a) Vandyke brown and a little crimson lake ground in a)e laid on, allowed to dry and then smoothed, forms the ground. Then lay on a second thicker coat, soften with a badger-hair brush, take out the lights whilst it is wet, and imitate the feathery appearance of mahogany heart. Soften, and top grain with Vandyke brown laid on with an overgraining brush of flat hog-hair combed into detached tufts. In softening, be careful not to disturb the under colour.

(6) Grind burnt sienna and Vandyke brown in ale, lay on a coat, mottle with a camel-hair mottler, and soften. When dry, overgrain as above.

Oak In Distemper

This process is now seldom used, although it stands exposure to the weather, without fading, for a great length of time. For colour, dissolve gum arabic in hot water, and make a mixture of it with whiting, raw sienna, and Vandyke brown ground in beer. Colour the work evenly, brush it down with a dry dusting brush, comb while the colour remains wet, then let it get quite dry. Put in the veins with a small brush dipped in clean cold water. After a few seconds, run a dry soft duster down the work to remove the colour from the veins. Then lay on a thin coat of Turkey umber ground in beer. Put on with an overgraining brush. If too much gum is put in the colour it is likely to crack and blister; whilst if there is not sufficient, the veins will not be clearly marked by the wiping out.