There has possibly been no greater progress made in any art in the past few years than that which has been made in the art of staining and finishing woods. This, we believe, is to a great extent the result of the "Arts and Crafts" movement, which has brought out many new shades in dyes and stains, and new methods of finishing.

There are on the market many beautiful stains and finishes which give pleasing results, but to the pupils who wish to make some experiments of their own the following recipes are given.

It should always be kept in mind that a small piece of work is much more easily finished than a large piece; especially is this true when water or spirit stains are used. Any one using these stains should be careful to have them applied in such a manner that the staining will not show laps. This difficulty is not met with in using oil stains, as they do not dry out so quickly as the others.

The materials used in staining are many, and may be divided into five classes; namely, alkali, aniline, acid, mineral, and vegetable stains. Some colors are of such a nature that they fade and necessitate "setting," or "fixing," with a mordant. The materials mostly used to fix a color are sulphate of iron, commonly known as green vitriol or green copperas, and alum. The quantity to use for a solution is two ounces of either copperas or alum to a quart of water. Place the material in a cloth and suspend it in the water where it will readily dissolve. Copperas is also used in connection with the ebonizing of wood.

The following list of stains and finishes does not exhaust the subject, but these are given as the most simple ones for the beginner to use.

Before applying a stain or finish of any kind, the wood should be thoroughly smoothed with tools and sandpapered. Hard woods should be planed, scraped, and sandpapered, thus eliminating all rough and dull-looking spots. This is absolutely necessary in order to obtain a good "finish."

There are possibly no more simple finishes to apply than linseed oil and finishing wax.

To finish with linseed oil. When the work is thoroughly prepared, apply a coat of linseed oil and allow it to stand for a time, then rub with a soft cloth. Let the work dry and then apply another coat of oil. Repeat the operation five or six times. When the oil is thoroughly oxidized, rub with a cloth until a gloss is obtained. In fact, the time never comes when a little more rubbing will not improve a surface finished with linseed oil.

This finish has a quality that is greatly overlooked; namely, that it is not easily marked with hot dishes or water.

To finish with wax. Finishing wax can be applied on almost any stain, or it can be applied directly to the wood. When it is rubbed down it gives a dull gloss. It is a rather soft finish, is easily marred, but has the advantage in that it can be refinished without much trouble.

Apply the wax on the article with a cloth, let it stand for a few minutes, then rub off with a soft cloth. To polish, use a fairly hard brush. To refinish, repeat the above operation.

To make finishing wax. Cut beeswax into small pieces, and, with twice as much turpentine as there is wax, place in a vessel and apply a moderate heat which will help to soften the wax.

The vessel should not be placed over the fire.

The wax should be of the consistency of vaseline; if too thick, thin with turpentine.

To finish with shellac. In using shellac care should be taken to see that the solution is not too thick; when too thick, thin with alcohol.

In finishing a turned piece, brush on a fairly heavy coat of the shellac varnish; then, while the lathe is in motion, rub the surplus off with a cloth, before it hardens. This will give a good finish for chisel handles and similar articles.

On flat surfaces the shellac should be brushed evenly and not too heavy. To obtain a glossy surface, three coats are necessary. After each coat the surface should be smoothed with fine sandpaper (using No. oo) before applying the next.

To rub a shellacked surface, use felt, and rub down with powdered pumice and water. To polish the surface of a piece on the lathe, use shellac and oil, being careful not to use an excess of either. A little experience will determine the exact amounts.

To cut shellac. Put any quantity of gum shellac in a vessel (either earthen or glass, but not tin or iron), cover it over with alcohol, stir it frequently. It will take about four to eight hours to reduce the gum to liquid form.

To lighten shellac. Shellac will become dark colored when kept in a tin or iron vessel. To clear it, add about one heaping teaspoonful of oxalic acid to a quart of liquid shellac. It is not advisable to use the oxalic acid often in the same solution, as the mixture deteriorates.

To finish with varnish. Usually a surface that is to be finished with varnish is first filled (see Filler) after staining, or the filler may be colored, thus staining and filling with one operation.

After the surface is filled, the pores of the wood should be sealed; it is found best to seal them by applying a coat of shellac. After the shellac is dry it is smoothed with sandpaper, and then a coat of varnish is put on and allowed to dry. (A mistake usually made on varnished surfaces is, that each coat is not allowed to dry sufficiently before the next coat is applied.) Before putting on a fresh coat of varnish the surface should be smoothed with either No. 00 sandpaper or haircloth.

When the required number of coats are spread on the work and dried sufficiently, the surface can be left glossy, or it can be rubbed with powdered pumice and water, giving an eggshell gloss, or it can be polished. To polish, rub with pumice and water, then polish by rubbing with rotten stone, finally using finely powdered chalk. Give the surface a final rubbing with the bare hand and clean off with a piece of chamois skin or soft silk. A little experience is necessary to determine how much rubbing is required. The condition of the work will usually determine this.