This section is from the "Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas Recipes Processes" encyclopedia, by Norman W. Henley and others.
According to the statements of able cabinet makers who frequently had occasion to cover decorations on wood, especially aquarelle painting, with a polish, a good coating of fine white varnish is the first necessity, dammar varnish being employed for this purpose. This coat is primarily necessary as a protective layer so as to preserve the painted work from destructive attacks during the rubbing for the production of a smooth surface and the subsequent polishing. At all events, the purest white polishing varnish must be used for the polish so as to prevent a perceptible subsequent darkening of the white painting colors. Naturally the success here is also dependent upon the skill of the polisher. To polish painting executed on wood it is necessary to choose a white, dense, fine grained wood, which must present a well-smoothed surface before the painting. After the painting the surface is faintly coated with a fine, quickly drying, limpid varnish. When the coating has dried well, it is carefully rubbed down with finely pulverized pumice stone, with tallow or white lard, and now this surface is polished in the usual manner with a good solution prepared from the best white shellac.
For copper, brass, German silver, and tombac, stearine oil and Vienna lime are used. Articles of brass can be polished, after the pickling, in the lathe with employment of a polish consisting of shellac, dissolved in alcohol, 1,000 parts; powdered turmeric, 1,000 parts; tartar, 2,000 parts; ox gall, 50 parts; water, 3,000 parts.
Gold is polished with ferric oxide (red stuff), which, moistened with alcohol, is applied to leather.
For polishing silver, the burnisher or bloodstone is employed using soap water, thin beer, or a decoction of soap wort. Silver-plated articles are also polished with Vienna lime.
To produce a dull luster on gold and silver ware, glass brushes, i. e., scratch brushes of finely spun glass threads, are made use of.
Pewter articles are polished with Vienna lime or whiting; the former on a linen rag, the latter on leather.
If embossed articles are to be polished, use the burnisher, and for polish, soap water, soap-wort decoction, ox gall with water.
Antimony-lead alloys are polished with burnt magnesia on soft leather or with fine jewelers' red.
Zinc is brightened with Vienna lime or powdered charcoal.
Vienna lime gives a light - colored polish on brass, while ferric oxide imparts a dark luster.
This appears in commerce in many shades, varying from brick red to chocolate brown. The color, however, is in no wise indicative of its purity or good quality, but it can be accepted as a criterion by which to determine the hardness of the powder. I The darker the powder, the greater is its degree of hardness; the red or reddish is always very soft, wherefore the former is used for polishing steel and the latter for softer metals.
For the most part, Paris red consists of ferric oxide or ferrous oxide. In its production advantage is taken of a peculiarity common to most salts of iron, that when heated to a red heat they separate the iron oxide from the acid combination. In its manufacture it is usual to take commercial green vitriol, copperas crystals, and subject them to a moderate heat to drive off the water of crystallization. When this is nearly accomplished they will settle down in a white powder, which is now placed in a crucible and raised to a glowing red heat till no more vapor arises, when the residue will be found a soft smooth red powder. As the temperature is raised in the crucible, the darker will become the color of the powder and the harder the abrasive.
Should an especially pure rouge be desired, it may be made so by boiling the powder we have just made in a weak solution of soda and afterwards washing it out repeatedly and thoroughly with clean water. If treated in this way, all the impurities that may chance to stick to the iron oxide will be separated from it.
Should a rouge be needed to put a specially brilliant polish upon any object its manufacture ought to be conducted according to the following formula: Dissolve commercial green vitriol in water; dissolve also a like weight of sorrel salt in water; filter both solutions; mix them well, and warm to 140° P.; a yellow precipitate, which on account of its weight, will settle immediately; decant the fluid, dry out the residue, and afterwards heat it as before in an iron dish in a moderately hot furnace till it glows red.
By this process an exceptionally smooth, deep-red powder is obtained, which, if proper care has been exercised in the various steps, will need no elutriation, but can be used for polishing at once. With powders prepared in this wise our optical glasses and lenses of finest quality are polished.