The only way to find the best materials to use in certain cases is to study and experiment with that end in view. If, by aid of a microscope, a certain piece of wood shows the same cellular formation that another piece did which was successfully finished by a certain process, it may be regarded as safe to treat both alike. If observation on this line is indulged in, it will not take the finisher very long to learn just what treatment is best for the work in hand. How often it has been noticed in something of two parts, like a door, that the panels when finished will pit, run, or sag, while the sides will present a surface in every way desirable and vice versa. This is due to the difference in the cellular construction of the wood and to the cellulose, and cannot be otherwise for the parts have been seasoned the same time and treated exactly alike. The physiology of wood is imperfectly understood, but enough is known to warrant us in saying with a certainty that the chemicals in fillers do act upon the principles embodied in its formation.

Some tried formulas follow:


Make a paste to fill the cracks as follows: Old furniture polish: Whiting, plaster of Paris, pumice stone, litharge, equal parts, Japan drier, boiled linseed oil, turpentine, coloring matter, of each a 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 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 by the application of a very thin, even coat of a very fine, transparent varnish.

If the hand-polishing method he preferred, it may be pursued by nibbing 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. It should be borne in mind that the surface of the cabinet work of a piano is generally veneered, and this being so, necessitates the exercise of much skill and caution in polishing.


Prepare a paste from fine starch flour and a thick solution of brown shellac, with the spatula upon a grinding stone, and rub the wooden object with this. After the drying, rub off with sandpaper and polish lightly with a rag moistened with a thin shellac solution and a few drops of oil. The ground thus prepared varnish once or twice and a fine luster will be obtained. This method is well adapted for any wood with large pores, such as oak.