This section is from the "Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas Recipes Processes" encyclopedia, by Norman W. Henley and others.
First make a paste to fill cracks as follows: Whiting, plaster of Paris, pumice stone, litharge, equal parts; japan dryer, boiled linseed oil, turpentine, coloring matter of sufficient quantity. Rub the solids intimately with a mixture of 1 part of the japan, 2 parts of the linseed oil, and 3 parts of turpentine, coloring to suit with Vandyke brown or sienna. Lay the filling on with a brush, let it set for about 20 minutes, and then rub off clean except where it is-to remain. In 2 or 3 days it will be hard enough to polish.
After the surface has been thus prepared, the application of a coat of first-class copal varnish is in order. It is recommended that the varnish be applied in a moderately warm room, as it is injured by becoming chilled in drying. To get the best results in varnishing, some skill and experience are required. The varnish must be kept in an evenly warm temperature, and put on neither too plentifully nor too gingerly.
After a satisfactorily smooth and regular surface has been obtained, the polishing proper may be done. This may be accomplished by manual labor and dexterity, or consist in the application of a very thin, even coat of a very fine, transparent varnish.
If the hand-polishing method be preferred, it may be pursued by rubbing briskly and thoroughly with the following finishing polish:
Alcohol........... 8 ounces
Shellac............ 2 drachms
Gum benzoin...... 2 drachms
Best poppy oil...... 2 drachms
Dissolve the shellac and gum in the alcohol in a warm place, with frequent agitation, and, when cold, add the poppy oil. This may be applied on the end of a cylindrical rubber made by tightly rolling a piece of flannel which has been torn, not cut, into strips 4 to 6 inches wide.
A certain "oily sweating" of articles of polished wood occurs which has been ascribed to the oil used in polishing, but has been found to be due to a waxy substance present in shellac, which is often used in polishing. During the operation of polishing, this wax enters into close combination with the oil forming a soft, greasy mass, which prevents the varnish from ever becoming really hard. This greasy matter exudes in the course of time. The remedy is to use only shellac from which the vegetable wax has been completely removed. This is accomplished by making a strong solution of the shellac in alcohol and then shaking it up with fresh seed lac or filtering it through seed lac. In this way the readily soluble rosins in the seed lac are dissolved, and with them traces of coloring matter. At the same time the vegetable wax, which is only slightly soluble, is deposited. The shellac solution which has exchanged its vegetable wax for rosin is not yet suitable for fine furniture polishing. It is not sufficiently taken up by the wood, and an essential oil must be added to give it the necessary properties, one of the best oils to employ for this purpose being that of rosemary. The following recipe is given:
Twenty pounds of shellac and 4 pounds of benzoin are dissolved in the smallest possible quantity of alcohol, together with 1 pound of rosemary oil. The solution then obtained is filtered through seed lac so as to remove whatever vegetable wax may be present.
Soft water........... 6 pints
Turpentine......... 6 pints
Beeswax............ 3 pounds
White wax.......... 1.5 ounces
White soap.......... 18 ounces
Red lead............ 12 ounces
Cut up soap and dissolve in water by aid of heat; then evaporate to 6 pounds. Melt the waxes and add turpentine in which red lead has been stirred, pour into this the soap solution, and stir until it is nearly cold. If a darker color is wanted add more red lead, 4 to 6 ounces.
The wood of the red beech is known to acquire, by the use of ordinary shellac polish, a dirty yellow color, and by the use of white polish, prepared from bleached shellac, an unsightly gray-white color. Therefore, where light colors are desired, only filtered shellac polish should be employed, and in order to impart some fire to the naturally dull color of the beech-wood the admixture of a solution of dragon's blood in alcohol for a red shade, or turmeric in alcohol for yellow may be used. A compound of the red and yellow liquids gives a good orange shade. A few trials will soon show how much coloring matter may be added to the polish.