This section is from the book "The Tinman's Manual And Builder's And Mechanic's Handbook", by Isaac Ridler Butt. Also available from Amazon: The Tinman's Manual And Builder's And Mechanic's Handbook.
The simplest, and perhaps the best, is the solution of shellac only, but many add gums sandarach, mastic, copal, arabic,benjamin, etc, from the idea that they contribute to the effect. Gum arabic is certainly never required if the solvent be pure, because it is insoluble in either rectified spirit or rectified wood naphtha, the menstrua employed in dissolving the gums. As spirit is seldom used on account of its expense, most of the following are mentioned as solutions in naphtha, but spirit can be substituted when thought proper.
1. Shellac one and a half pounds, naphtha one gallon; dissolve, and it is ready without filtering. 2. Shellac twelve ounces, copal three ounces, (or an equivalent of varnish); dissolve in one gallon of naphtha. 8. Shellac one and a half pounds, seed-lac and sandarach each four ounces, mastic two ounces, rectified spirit one gallon; dissolve. 4. Shellac two pounds, benzoin four ounces, spirit one gal-lon. 5. Shellac ten ounces, seed-lac, sandarach, and copal varnish of each, six ounces, benzoin three ounces, naphtha one gallon.
To darken polish, benzoin and dragon's-blood are used, turmeric and other coloring matters arc also added; and to make it lighter it is necessary to use bleached lac, though some endeavor to give this effect by adding oxalic acid to the ingredients, it, like gum arabic, is insoluble in good spirit or naphtha. For all ordinary par-poses the first form is best and least troublesome, while its appearance is equal to any other.
The wood must be placed level, and sand-papered until it is quite smooth, otherwise it will not polish. Then provide a rubber of cloth, list, or sponge, wrap it in a soft rag, so as to leave a handle at the back for your hand, shake the bottle against the rubber, and in the middle of the varnish on the rag place with your finger a little raw linseed oil. Now commence rubbing, in small circular strokes, and continue until the pores are filled, charging the rubber with varnish and oil as required, until the whole wood has had one coat. When dry repeat the process once or twice until the surface appears even and fine, between each coat using fine sand-paper to smooth down all irregularities. Lastly, use a clean rubber with a little strong alcohol only, which will remove the oil and the cloudiness it causes; when the work will be complete.
New wood is often French-polished. Or the following may be tried: Melt three or four pieces of sandarach, each the size of a walnut, add one pint of boiled oil, and boil together for one hour. While cooling add one drachm of Venice turpentine, and if too thick a little oil of turpentine also. Apply this all over the furniture, and after some hours rub it off; rub the furniture daily, without applying fresh varnish, except about once in two months. Water does not injure this polish, and any stain or scratch may be again covered, which cannot be done with French-polish.
To give a gloss to household furniture, various compositions are used, known as wax, polish, creams, pastes, oils, etc. The following are some of the forms used:
Bees-wax one pound, soap four ounces, pearlash two ounces, soft water one gallon; boil together until mixed.
1. Acetic acid two drachms, oil of lavender one-half drachm, rectified spirit one drachm, linseed oil four ounces. 2. Linseed oil one pint, alkanet root two ounces; heat, strain, and add lac varnish one ounce. 3. Linseed oil one pint, rectified spirit two ounces, butter of antimony four ounces.
1. Bees-wax, spirit of turpentine, and linseed oil, equal parts; melt and cool. 2. Bees-wax four ounces, turpentine ten ounces, alkanet root to color; melt and strain. 3. Bees-wax one pound, linseed oil five ounces, alkanet root one-half ounce; melt, add five ounces of turpentine, strain and cool. 4. Bees-wax four ounces, resin one ounce, oil of turpentine two ounces, Venetian red to color.