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FRENCH POLISHING

This section has the following Chapters
White heat and watermarks - The removal of -
Dark, Ink, Wine and watermarks - The removal of -
Scratches and dents - The covering of -.
Scratches and dents - Distressing Furniture.
Livening up a tired old surface
Color - The Changing of-.
Spray Polishing
Complete Repolishing
Stripping French Polished Pieces
French polishing of a new piece
Distressing Furniture.
French Polish - The making of -.
Shellac Solution - The making of a Waterbased -.
Wax Polish (waterbased)- The making of -.
Wax Polish (turps-based)- The making of.
Stripping the old polish off.
Terminology

 

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The Removal of White Heat or Water Marks

In order to remove heat or watermarks which show up white in most polishes one must understand what those marks represent.
When excessive heat is applied to most polishes some of the components of a polish might boil, this in turn creates microscopic gas bubbles which upon cooling become microscopic holes.
Or when some liquids such as water are left for a prolonged time on the surface of most polishes it will penetrate part of this polish, swelling the thickness of it and then when those liquids evaporate microscopic holes are left behind in the polish.
Light upon entering such a hole is scattered in all directions and creates all colors of the rainbow, which combine as white to our eyes.
In order to remove those white mark(s) we therefore have to remove those microscopic holes, so light may enter and leave the polish without this refraction.
For most polishes this is done by filling the holes, or by softening of the polish to allow welding of the existing polish and thereby removing the holes. This process may be shortened by light sanding of the area to be treated, thus giving easier access to those microscopic holes, with fine sandpaper say 400 grid wet & dry or dry lube sandpaper, taking care not to remove any color or going down to the timber, as this will change the color of the finish, remember the correct sand paper is important in this process to get the correct result.
After such a mark is removed the whole table top should be repolished lightly along the direction of the wood grain, in order to have the same gloss all over the surface.
If the piece was previously finished with spirit lacquer, typically pieces made between the two world wars, great care should be taken not to dissolve to much of the old polish, as soon as the polish starts to drag on the rubber on should allow the old polish to reharden and give it another light go the next day and each following day until the marks have disappeared.
Face it, you want the items in your houses or your apartments to look finished and perfect. Take your time and read the above information carefully, practice on some other practice pieces if you don't want to attempt this on the real thing.
When a piece is finished with a two pack polyester finish, typically Italian veneered pieces and piano's made after 1955, or many currently made pieces with printed grain, inlay or other images, a differing approach is needed, as this type of polish will not dissolve.
Therefore light sanding is required preferably with wet & dry paper of about 400 grid using water or mineral turps as the lubricant, taking great care not to remove the coloring as this would necessitate recoloring before refinishing. This method will allow the lubricant to fill up the microscopic holes as soon as access is reached thereby negating the white reflection of the marked area. As soon as the white has disappeared we can stop sanding and allow the area to dry for one or two days, during which time the mark may reappear this however does not matter as access to the mark has been tested.
After this thorough drying thinned out french polish can be applied making sure to keep rubbing until the polish is dry and no white spots are left buried under the new polish without being filled.
If on next day some white reappears than severe rubbing is required with some very thinned out french polish or methylated spirits and a little oil until the marks have disappeared again, check the next day and if the white spots don't reappear then the polishing can be finished by recoating the whole area with the appropriate polish.
Antiquax.gif After which the whole can be finished with Antiquax or another similarly good wax.
 

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The removal of Dark, Ink, Wine and watermarks

With dark stains or dark marks one first has to determine whether the stain is in the timber or on top of the polish.
If the stain is on top of the polish then it would probably be best removed with a sharp burr less cabinet scraper.
As this allows for the local removal of the stain and if necessary the top layer of the lacquer without making scratches such as sandpaper would.
If the dark stain is trough the polish and into the wood then the only thing possible is to bleach the darkened area.
Most dark stains are from iron or other metals reacting to the ( tannic )acids in the timber, or sometimes from spilled acids such as in coke or wine reacting to the metal particles in the timber, those would most likely have been drawn in during the growing process.
Most metal stains ( even rust from metal handles or nails or ink ) can be reduced with oxalic acid.
There are two ways to do this;

  1. Carefully place some oxalic acid granules on the effected area for a few days, and the moisture in the air will make some of the acid react with the metals in the timber underneath the granules, and so slowly work to bleach the stain, check once or twice a day until the stain lightened.
  2. Dissolve some granules in some luke warm water and "paint" some on the stain with a pencil brush, be carefull as painting outside the stain may leave near whitish marks, removing the acid when the stain has reached the desired color, and wash with clean water then dry as much as possible with a cloth and let dry for at least a day.
    After wich the area can be polished in with french polish, or finished in accordance with the rest of the piece.
    If the area has become to light then color in with pigment and/or stain to match the surrounding area.

Antiquax.gif

After which the whole can be finished with Antiquax or another similarly good wax.
 

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Repairing and covering of Scratches and Dents

Scratches and dents generally require filling before they may be repolished.
Careful assessment of the scratch or dent before treatment can save a lot of time and agony in the treatment of those.
Sometimes a not completely satisfactory result should be accepted if no complete repolishing of the whole area is allowed.
The main difference between scratches and dents is that with dents the fibers of the wood are compacted they are not broken and therefore can often be relocated to their original, or near original position in manners mentioned later.
 
Differing scratches require different treatment herewith some types;
Scratches that are white in color, but display no broken surface.
Scratches and Dents that display no big color change.
Edge Dents.
Deep Dents and Scratches.

White Scratches

Some scratches are white in color but display no broken surface nor indentation. Those scratches are in reality small long dents in the under polish after which the top layer of the polish has bounced back and is released from the under coating thus creating a minuscule hollow space in between.
The light is refracted from the underside of the polish or lacquer as white.
The trick is to fill this space and adhere the upper polish to its undercoat. Firstly a test may be done for the severity of the scratches by rubbing with a methylated spirits or another appropriate solvent. Most of the scratches may spontaneously disappear which leaves you to only deal with the severe ones. Those often, are most easily deal with by cutting with a sharp knife, only trough the top layer. Either the full length of the scratch or in case of a long one in strategic places after which french polish can be forced in the scratch by rubbing along the length of it. So negating the white scratch.
During the drying process the white may reappear, in which case more polish should be rubbed on. If after drying the edges of the cut have curled up then this can be sanded down with some wet & dry paper, taking care not to apply much pressure as polishes, whom have this type of scratches often acquire some more scratches just from rough sanding. If this is the case than real consideration should be given to replacement of the top coat.(e. i. removing the topcoat by washing it of with a mixture of methylated spirits and general-purpose thinners, and then repolishing with french polish).
 
 

Scratches and Dents that display no big color change.

Those scratches and dents should be dealt with as soon as possible as freshness is a major factor in successful recovery. If the Scratch or dent is fresh swelling the fibers back in place can achieve a complete recovery.
This is done by heating with steam, I prefer using a sponge with water sometimes a few drops of detergent or methylated spirits are added to the water for improved penetration. A normal electric iron is used to heat the water placed over the indentation till it steams dry. Taking care to keep the sole of the iron clean by rubbing it regularly with a wet scouring pad while the heat setting on the iron is turned down. For safety make sure no water enters the iron and an earth guard is installed.
Water can be made to penetrate deeper, and therefore to swell up the deeper fibers, by laying a wet piece of cloth over the indentation for a period of time before or in between heating.
The heat is necessary to soften the cellulose, which keeps the cells of wood together, so that the fibers can realign themselves to their previous position after they where forcefully positioned during the denting.
Some restorers pour a little methylated spirits on the dents and the light this. Although sometimes successful with minimal damage to the rest of the surface, great care should be taken as spills may damage more than intended or excess heat may burn the area, especially the edges.
 
 

Edge Dents

Edge Dents can most often be repaired by inserting a knife in the edge just under the dent and bending the fibers until level with the surface. The insertion hole may than be filled and polished over.
 
 

Deep Dents and Scratches.

Deep dents and scratches will have to be filled. After years of trial, I use only polyester resin based filler. As this does not dissolve nor swell up from solvents during the polishing process.
I make my own, by adding talcum powder to a general-purpose polyester resin. The talcum powder is added till the required stiffness is achieved, stir well during the addition to prevent lumps. Generally you'll find that the next day the mixture is not as stiff as previously due to extended wetting of the talcum powder by the resin, so additional powder might be required. On cold days you can hasten the catalyzing of the mixture by adding promoter or cobalt to it. Taking care that no cobalt comes in direct contact with the hardener (M.E.K.).
The filler can be colored with ordinary pigments such as Burnt Umber or Iron Oxides, with the exception of carbon based blacks such as Lampblack, as those absorb the catalyst and stops the hardening out of the resin, It is therefore advisable to use a polyester coloring agent.
Normally I make a portion of the filler in the lightest color of the timber to be filled. Then mix a smaller portion of that, with the hardener and fill as much as possible. I cut this with a chisel or plane down to shape as soon as the filler is stiff enough but not completely hardened out. Larger flat areas can than be grained by scratching with a sharp utensil. Darker stain will makes this stand out and look like timber. If there are still holes or pieces that were not completely filled then filler can be added now, worked-up and filled again till completion. For difficult shaped chips tape can be utilized to hold the filler up until hardened. After hardening out the filler may be filed or sanded as required, but carving should be done after jelling and before complete hardening, at this stage the filler can also be bent, and once hardened will stay in this shape.
I use the same mixture for filling worn out drawer runners as it has a good service live, can be added to without complication and runs smooth due to the talcum in the resin.
 
 


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The livening up of tired old polishes

The over polishing and thus the livening up of a dull french polished surface is one of the most satisfying jobs in my book as, with some care and a little effort, a tired old piece of home furniture or office furniture may be transformed into a richly patinated antique.
Firstly we look for any loose pieces and glue those. Also we check the construction before starting the refinishing, for a little glue here might have great results as a repolished wonky table is still a wonky table and the merest touch will, complete with embarrassment and feelings of guilt, spill the coffee or worse wine over the table.
Then we check for any major gouges, missing pieces, chips or dents which require filling and do so. After this we will lightly sand the surface with fine(320-400 grid) paper. Not forgetting the edges, as this will smoothen up the whole look. Check for any small spots of white ceiling or wall paint as those are nearly always on the furniture and really show up when the piece is refinished, ok, now a further smoothing with fine steel wool avoiding snagging behind anything but certainly highlighting any brass or metal fittings. Now a thorough dusting best is using the vacuum cleaner and a clean dry brush, all dust away and of we go.
Making a rubber out of a piece of lint free cloth approx .5 meter by .5 meter ( roughly measuring from elbow to hand ) square.
Folding this double by bringing the edges toward the center again and again until the required size, creating a pad without any loose edges. We pour some polish into the center, which than travels trough the cloth unto the front, from whence it gets rubbed onto the surface of the to be polished piece.
It is best to learn if possible with chairs or small items or table legs and bases first as this may gain you valuable experience before doing a table top on which everything is noticeable.
For the first layer I always use polish with 1/3 spirit stain in it of preferable a nice warm yellow color such as golden oak for most timbers, except for very light timber, this will heighten the patina and color out any scratches or bare spots.
Starting out with a little bit of sewing machine oil applied to the front of the rubber we now gently rub the surface all over applying a very thin coat. Scratches may be primed at this stage with a small brush charged with french polish, but must be wiped over immediate with the rubber to avoid the edges marring the surface.
Check continually at the beginning for "burning" of the old polish. For instance if the old polish is a spirit lacquer type polish then this might easily dissolve or "burn".
Burning occurs when the polish underneath is softer than the polish on top and the new polish melts the old polish down to the surface. STOP polishing when this happens.
I know that the instinctive urge is to apply more polish to this area but that will only dissolve more of the old polish.
In the end stripping the area of all the polish. The new polish will work as a stripper and before you'll know it you'll have to strip and repolish the whole piece, as this invariably lead to a slightly differing color and finish.
It is better therefore to STOP and let the surface harden for a day.
Then you might start over, but now with yesterdays coat between the old and the new polish. Some old polishes are so deteriorated that this process of applying a thin coat and drying may have to be repeated several times before the new polish gives enough protection to the old polish.
Turnings can often be polished by pulling the polish cloth damp with polish back and forth around the wood as if you were polishing a brass rail, taking care that, although you want some polish in your rag it must not be dripping with polish as that may only lead to "burning".
 
 

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Changing the color on an existing surface

The Changing of color either all over or just in local areas may most effectively been done by applying a thing layer of polish to which a coloring agent has been added. Needless to say that the color can only be changed or darkened in this manner, although a lightening effect may be given by mixing a lighter pigment into this polish although a lessening of brightness may occur due to the light blocking effect of the pigment. Too red timbers may be browned off by polish in which a little malachite green is dissolved.
 
 


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Spray Polishing

For Respraying, Stock polish should be thinned with an equal amount of methylated spirits. This then is used as a sealer for underneath lacquers.
For Re-French Polishing this is not recommended as it inhibits the full potential of the depth of color possible with French Polishing.
Specially furniture that is being resprayed later with another type of lacquer, such as pre-catalyzed or two pack polyurethane.
The addition of silicone drops (fish eye destroyer) is of great benefit here to improve the smoothness of the spray finish (see spray finishes). Silicone drops are an adding agent to normal polishes. They lower the surface (static) tension in the polish. Thus lowering the effects of repulsion by any static charges, in the old polish. Waxing and dusting of the old finish caused this. Respraying of furniture without silicone drops in the polish/lacquer is not an good idea. A small saving here can cause a lot of problems.
Remember that due to the low viscosity of the shellac polish, runners form easily. Once one or two coats of shellac /methylated spirits are applied the further coating can be done with stock polish thinned down with an equal amount of general-purpose thinners this will result in a faster drying and smoother finish. Fast drying spray finishes will never give you the luster associated with hand french polishing. If the item is to be finished in a lacquer consider using a commercial sanding sealer for under coat.
 
 


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Complete repolishing

A completes repolishing job, really starts by firstly considering the structural damage. Replacement of any missing pieces as well as organizing the hardware for the piece comes first as sometimes delivery of necessary parts can take time. If you unscrew any bits check whether the old screws are good enough for re-use else get other screws. Make sure that al the screws for an item are similar. It distracts greatly to see a nice bit of hardware put in with an assortment of odd screws.
Stripping furniture should not be done until all woodwork is finished.
It is easier to remove excess glue from a polish than from bare timber and any new or resurfaced area get a mix of old polish and stripper over it what makes it blend in better with the rest of the piece. I sometimes pre-stain new areas before stripping as this will give me a better blending.
Non painted items are best stripped by washing with methylated spirits. for French Polish and a mixture of 70% Methylated Spirits and 30% General Purpose Thinners if the finish is Cellulose Lacquer. Difficult lacquers may be first coated with paint stripper ( chloroethylene based ), then most of the softened lacquer can be removed carefully with a smooth filling knife and then the polish can be washed of with the 70/30 stripping mixture using a scouring pad or steelwool. Make sure to wash the whole with clean methylated spirits to remove any steelwool.
Small pieces can be placed in a container in which methylated spirits is put on the bottom either in bowls or on the bottom it self with the piece raised so, as not to touch the liquid. The piece now gets washed all over with the methylated spirits then placed in the closed container and this process gets repeated until all the old polish is removed. The longer the piece is in the vapors the softer the polish will be and leaving it overnight does not normally harm it. Then rubbing it with a scouring pad with methylated spirits really takes the old polish of in no time at all and without damage.
After stripping but before the piece dries I normally repolish it rubbing it with a very thin polish, sometimes with a little gold /yellow colored stain in the polish, until dry and smooth. This saves an enormous amount of time, not only don't you have to sand the piece but the color will be more vivid as the penetration of the polish is better and only two or three coats will finish the piece from here with a better, nicer feel and look.
Don't forget to make sure that the edges and undersides within touch are smooth as it can be completely off putting to see something nice and upon touching feeling that the underneath is all rough and dirty. And don't forget the edges, it takes hardly any extra time to include the edges with each process but is a sore job to be done afterwards without damaging the top.
Well there it is stripped and pre-polished ready for the home run.
With care there'll be only joy from here on in.
Just charge your rubber with "polish with oil" and of we go rubbing and rubbing.
The "polish with oil" is made as follows Stock Polish is thinned with an equal amount of general-purpose thinners in which about 2ml/liter ( 2 parts per thousand ) sewing machine oil is dissolved. Only the first time you charge your rubber a small amount of oil is put on the front of the rubber after this is supplied by the polish it self.
After charging the rubber keep polishing on an area approx. one to two foot square, until the rubber is dry while increasing the pressure applied to move the polish into the grain of the timber while the polish dries. During the finishing coat we use polish without oil to remove as much oil from the surface as possible. Having the vehicle (solvent in which the solids ( shellac) are carried )in the polish half methylated spirits half thinners makes the polish harden out faster and harder without the streaking and roping effects as, methylated spirits only does.
 
 

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The polishing of New pieces

The main difference between repolishing and polishing a new piece is mainly in the preparation of the surface as most of this was all ready done in an old piece. And a larger choice of finishes is available which we deal with later.
After all the holes are filled and the piece is completely sanded a decision should by made as to what type of stain or dye, if any will be used and whether a grain filler will be used or not. I prefer not to use grain fillers as, this is their purpose, they fill up the grain and thereby block the light from entering the timber grain. The reason timber looks alive is that the light bounces back to you from differing angles due to the grainy surface of the timber. By filling it with grain filler you smooth the surface and thus negate the living effect of timber. I prefer to fill the grain with polish this allows the light freely to enter the timber and bounce back from inside thus enhancing the live effect.
When the use of water based stains, dyes or chemicals, is selected, a better result will be achieved if the whole piece is treated with hot water to which a small amount of detergent is added for penetration. After the whole piece is wetted it is straightaway dried off with a good sponge and/ or cloth taking particular care of end grain areas and joints checking regularly that those dry without leaving water rings on the timber.
This raises the grain of the timber as well as any small dents or previous dents. After thorough drying the piece is again sanded. Thus preventing the grain from raising after the stain is applied, which, when sanded down would cause bare white spots and the need of a second staining.
This of course is not needed if a spirit stain is used.
The use of a fluorescent neutral stain such as "blankofor" added to a normal water-stain (dye) deepens the luster of the piece. Although water-stains still give the best lasting colors and hues. The ease with which modern oil and spirit stains are applied is a good argument. For blond timbers such as Rock Maple (Sycamore, Ahorn) one cannot go past a water-stain like "Blankofor" especially when a little Oxalic acid is added.
The terms stain and dye are use often without regards to the proper terminology by manufacturers, so always check on a piece of scrap, which you keep then over coats can be tested to, what you get before applying it to the real thing.
 
 


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The making of French Polish

The Making of French polish is done most effectively in the following manner;
A jar is half filled with shellac flakes (Orange flakes preferred) then methylated spirit( preferably 99.5 % alcohol, DNAA grade) is poured over these until all the flakes are just covered.
Now the jar is closed and shaken until all the visible flakes are dissolved, warming the jar in warm water speeds up this process. Alternatively the jar is left alone and a stir or shake is given once in a while. This to prevent the shellac flakes from sticking together and forming lumps which take longer to dissolve, this gives the same result and reduces the amount of shaking necessary, it all depends on when you need to use the polish. I usually put new flakes to dissolve as soon as I nearly finished the old lot this means that I always have some stock polish ready to go. Pour this mixture trough a fine sieve, cloth or nylon stocking, into another jar to filter out the debris, as bits of carbon, unsolved shellac, hemp fibers of the bag and other undesirables will be part of a natural product like shellac flakes.
This then is called Stock Polish and is a heavy polish which generally needs to further thinning before use although it is very handy in this state for starting a variety of differing polishes.
For normal polishing this Stock polish is further thinned down with an equal amount of general purpose thinners in which a small amount of sewing machine oil is dissolved (approx. 2 part in 1000) this oil will lubricate your rubber while polishing.
Finishing French Polish is exactly the same but without the oil.
For Sealing polish the Stock polish should be thinned with an equal amount of methylated spirits for this sealer, it then can be brushed or sprayed on and left to dry overnight. This reduces the amount of time and polish required by new pieces, although it also reduces the depth of color French Polish is capable of when the first layers are polished "wet in wet".
The Stock Polish may be mixed with all kinds of pigments for the coloring out of blemishes or discoloring and can always be thinned with methylated spirits or thinners if required.
Stock polish can be thickened with talcum powder to become an easy filler which and with the addition of pigments can be colored to suit any purpose. This filler however should be applied in many not too thick coatings rather than in one thick lump, as that may take a longer time to dry.
 
 

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The making of a waterbased Shellac solution

Water-based shellac solutions are used for the lacquering of things which are, adversely effected by the use of solvent or alcohol. Hats or materials, for instance. Also and maybe more important to the antique restorer, for stripped and /or bleached timber which is not yet completely dry can be covered with this shellac solution to create not only a strong bond with the timber, but also imbue that sought after washed -out look.
Another use is mixed with Stock Polish a blooming effect may be created in the french polish to give pieces an Aged look.
Over bleaches and wet substrates this solution may often dry up completely white but this can be brought back to the level of transparency you require by the rubbing and/or brushing on of methylated spirits, or general purpose thinners, or combination thereof.
 
  Here is the formulation;

Bleached dry shellac 25 %
 
Borax 5 %
 
Water 70 %
 

The Borax to be dissolved in approx 1/3 of the water at 45 C (113 F) after which to shellac is added while stirring so that each piece is completely wetted, than the temperature is slowly raised to just below boiling temperature 90-95 C (195-205 F). Now while stirring the solution is kept at this temperature until it is completely transparent, approx 30 min.
 
 

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The making of waterbased Waxpolish

To this purpose wax is soapyfied into water to create an easily applicable wax coating. This is especially effective on drawers. Inside of chests or underneath tabletops to prevent quick humidity changes in solid timbers. It also makes a cheap all-purpose finish on timber objects for indoors. The hardness of the wax can be altered by changing the amount of specified waxes but keeping the total amount of all the wax(es) the same. For drawers and drawer runners I prefer to use only paraffin wax in the mix while for undersides of table tops, a mixture in which carnauba is 90% of all the wax is my favorite.
 
  This is the general Formula;

Carnauba wax 4 %
 
Bees wax 2 %
 
Paraffin wax 6 %
 
Concentrated Detergent 2 %
 
Dye 4 %
 
Water 84 %
 

The dye can be replaced with pigments or any coloring agent to the required color is achieved or left out for a neutral color.
For Oak, ammonia can be added to deepen the color.
The waxes are melted together by melting the wax with the highest melting point first. Then dissolving the other waxes in this, in order of their melting points. After this the temperature is lowered and the detergent and coloring agent(s) are added. Now the water is carefully added this might foam thus a large pan is needed for this. As more and more water is added the temperature can be lower until once below boiling point all the rest of the water can be put in.
 
 

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The making of turpentine based Waxpolish

A good furniture wax is made with the following
formula;

Carnauba wax 2.5 %
 
Bees wax 5 %
 
Linseed oil 2.5 %
 
Terebine .05 %
 
Dye(Yellow) .15 %
 
Pure Turps 89.8 %
 

Antiquax.gifAntiquax

is a very good commercial product.
 

First melt the Carnauba wax then add the Bees wax turn down the heat and carefully add the Linseed oil to which the Dye and Terebine were added previously then slowly add the Turps until all is dissolved and let cool while stirring the mixture.
  Antiquax is a very good wax.
 

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Stripping of Polished pieces

The stripping of old polish should be done only after all the construction and woodwork repairs have been done, the reason for this is, that some of the patina being taken off the piece will be distributed unto the newer areas and the color become more evenly as we strip.
Flat area's and Table Tops
Dents which will be filled in with a filler that is resistant to the method of stripping should also be filled and sanded before stripping for the same reason in regards to the sanded area.
Sanding should be done as little as possible as this adversely effects the coloring of the piece I often don't sand at all except for dents on edges, many dents may be removed with steam, by ironing a wet piece of cloth over the effected area repeatedly, however great care should be take on veneered areas as the steam will dissolve the glue and swell the veneer there by creating a bubble.
Flat horizontal areas may be easily stripped by covering this area with a layer of news paper which than gets wetted with methylated spirits, general-purpose thinners or a combination of those depending upon which solvent is most effective in the removal of the particular polish to be removed. After some time, while making sure the paper is not left to dry out. The polish should become at least soft, at which time this can be removed with a polished flat filler knife from which the edges should have been slightly rounded, so as not to dig into the timber. Once an area is so treated the paper can be put back and rewetted making sure no other part is left to dry out, so that this may work upon a deeper layer while you work on the next area. After having removed nearly all of the polish that way the rest can be removed with steel wool or scouring pad wetted with the same solvent solution, rubbing in the direction of the grain, there will be some spots which will be covered by some foreign substance e.g. candle-wax, nail polish etc. that does not dissolve those area may be carefully scraped with a smooth sharp scrape iron, it is not necessarily to scrape right down to the timber just to remove the old substrate after which the area may be treated the same as previously described. It will not be necessary to strip right down to the bare timber most often just the removal of the old polish down to an even color is what is required, however one should not forget to do the edges as this will require a lot of extra work as it is not done at the same time.
Finishing the stripping;
At this point it is best to dry the piece by rubbing this area with a piece of lint free cloth which has been soaked in this stripping solution and then wrung out to an even dampness, there are two objectives for doing this one is so the surface ends up smooth and even without streaks or debris and the other objective is so you can really check that all of the polish is removed and if some shows up not to have been removed then that can now easily be achieved before everything dries out.
I like at this point to check the color and if it is necessary then apply the spirit stain now and mix some stain (1 part) with some polish (2 parts) and with the same cloth rub it in and finish by rubbing in the length of the grain this gives a good adherence to the timber as the stripping solution in the timber allows the polish to travel deeper into the timber and consequently a deeper, warmer color.
Chairs, Stands and Table bases;
Table legs and chairs are best stripped above a large shallow tray in which a quantity of stripping solution is poured. With a large brush the whole of the to be stripped article should be covered several times allowing the excess liquid to run off into the tray. After a little while you will notice that the polish becomes soft at which time the brush should be replaced with a scouring pad or a piece of steel wool. The rubbing with this should be done with a firm hand but not excessively. Concentrating on one area often leads to the drying out of another area. This means that that area has to be resoftened all over again. It is best to remove a little bit all over each time you go round this allows the stripping solution to do most of the work. If you have a basin large enough to stand the object in. Then the best method is to wet it thoroughly all over and cover the object with plastic film. This stops evaporation of the solution and the polish on the object will soften, after a period of time the polish will have become so soft that all of it may be rubbed of in mere seconds. After which the stripping should be finished as previously described.
 
 

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Terminology;

  • A dye is a translucent coloring agent which allows the light to pas trough only changing the color.
  • A Stain is a pigmented coloring agent which blocks the light and send it back in the color of the pigment in the way that paint does.

  • The difference between paint and stain is that paint is completely opaque and stain only partially so.
    This is particularly so with oil based stains and although they hide a lot of blemishes, thats why manufacturers use them, they also hide the best effects of timber.
    Sometimes a mixture of Oil-Stain and Spirit-dye gives the required result.
    Most Spirit-stains loose their color after exposure to sunlight this can be slowed down by adding ultraviolet blocking agents to the polish.
    I prefer to stain lightly and then add spirit stain to the first polishing for a deepening of the color.
    Colors
    Do not think about the names of stains or dyes as often it has no particular bearing on the effect you are after.
    Name on labels is often just a ploy to sell the can and not necessarily a reflection of whats in it. A name like Mahogany generally indicates a dark purplish-red color not a stain one would use on Mahogany timber. Remember don't apply until you try (on a piece of scrap).
    First coat
    When hand polishing three courses are open to apply the first coat over stains which dissolve in polish.
    One could do "Tiger-striping" this means that with the rubber, polish is applied by going over the timber once along the grain. And than again without going over the previous stripe of polish thus creating a surface of alternating stripes of polish and unpolished timber. After letting this harden for a few minutes one repeats the process but now going once over the unpolished areas this way the stain will not dissolve so quickly and stay evenly on. After having thus applied several coats the stain is enough protected to proceed in the usual manner.
    The method I prefer is to add spirit stain to the first polish. This negates the effect of stain dissolving into the polish and allow a wetter application which results in a deeper color, although great care should be taken to apply in the direction of the grain and continuously checking for evenness of color. Especially along edges, carvings and mounts, removal of which, where possible, always eases the polishing.
    The third way is to spray a light sealing coat over the stain, this is particularly effective over oil-stains as they don't mix with polishes. Then hand, or spray gun can apply further coats. A light sanding to smooth the surface before hand polishing improves the surface.
    With care there'll be only joy from here on in. Just charge your rubber with "polish with oil" and of we go rubbing and rubbing. The "polish with oil" is made as follows Stock Polish is thinned with an equal amount of general-purpose thinners in which about 2ml/liter (2 parts per thousand ) sewing machine oil is dissolved. Only the first time you charge your rubber a small amount of oil is put on the front of the rubber, after which, this is supplied by the polish it self. After charging the rubber keep polishing until the rubber is dry while increasing the pressure applied to move the polish into the grain of the timber while the polish dries. Treat an area of approx. one or two foot square at a time. During the finishing coat we use polish without oil to remove as much oil from the surface as possible. Having the vehicle thus in the polish, half methylated spirits half thinners, makes the polish harden out faster and harder without the streaking and roping effect, methylated spirits only french polish has. After hardening further polishing can be done until the desired effect is achieved, remember that the polish may go down over the next few days, so be ready to polish a bit more later on.
     
     
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