This section is from the "Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas Recipes Processes" encyclopedia, by Norman W. Henley and others.
See also Polishes for Furniture, Floors and Pianos.
In the usual method of French polishing, the pad must be applied along curved lines, and with very slight pressure, if the result is to be uniform. To do this requires much practice and the work is necessarily slow. Another disadvantage is that the oil is apt to sweat out afterwards, necessitating further treatment. According to a German patent all difficulty can be avoided by placing between the rubber and its covering a powder composed of clay or loam, or better, the powder obtained by grinding fragments of terra cotta or of yellow bricks. The powder is moistened with oil for use. The rubber will then give a fine polish, without any special delicacy of manipulation and with mere backward and forward rubbing in straight lines, and the oil will not sweat out subsequently. Another advantage is that no priming is wanted, as the powder fills up the pores. The presence of the powder also makes the polish adhere more firmly to the wood.
The wood is first carefully smoothed, then painted with the following rather thickly liquid mass, using a brush, viz.: Mix 1.5 parts, by weight, of finely washed chalk (whiting), 0.5 part of dryer, and 1 part of boiled linseed oil with benzine and tint (umber with a little lampblack, burnt sienna). After the applied mixture has become dry, rub it down, polish with glass powder, and once more coat with the same mixture. After this filling and after rubbing off with stickwood chips or fine sea grass, one or two coats of shellac are put on (white shellac with wood alcohol for oak, brown shellac for cherry and walnut). This coating is cut down with sandpaper and given a coat of varnish, either polishing varnish, which is polished off with the ball of the hand or a soft brush, or with interior varnish, which is rubbed down with oil and pumice stone. This polish is glass hard, transparent, of finer luster, and resistive.