Polishing Wood Furniture & Wood Floor Polishing
Best technique for wood floor polishing and furniture polishing.
¶ Wood finishers doing the ordinary run and even the better class of finishing in homes and public buildings are seldom called upon to do any polishing beyond a careful clean up and rubbing with soft cloths after varnished surfaces have been coarse and fine rubbed. The piano polish, however, is often inquired about and occasionally a fine piece of furniture or cabinet work calls for polishing to a high lustre after the rubbing.
¶ The rather dull lustre of hand rubbed wood trim and cabinets is generally considered much more artistic than a high piano polish, surely it harmonizes with flat finished walls and dull finished furniture so much in use better than an extremely high gloss.
¶ There is no possibility of producing a highly polished surface unless the wood has been well filled, is level and hard dry. A surface with a ripple effect caused by insufficient filler, or no filler, little or no rubbing cannot be polished. Then, too, polishing must be done on the right kind of varnish. The varnishes intended for polishing are short-oil, very hard drying kinds. You cannot produce a high polish on the long-oil, elastic varnishes which are made to be very elastic and to withstand exterior exposure. And, further, you cannot polish or rub any varnishes which have not been allowed to become bone dry. If you can dent a varnish coat with your finger nail it is too soft to rub and polish.
¶ Having a properly filled, varnished and rubbed surface the polishing is done by one of three methods,a quick polishing, a slow polishing or French polishing. The latter method is never used except on furniture and while it produces a very beautiful and durable finish its cost is too great in labor and time to be considered for any except furniture pieces.
¶ Using the quick polishing method you begin after the varnish has been coarse-rubbed and fine-rubbed and cleaned up very thoroughly. The polishing is done with fine, dry rottenstone and rubbing oil. This oil may be a mixture of half sweet oil and half denatured alcohol. Fresh cottonseed oil was used in years past, too. Also you can purchase what is called rubbing oil now made especially for this purpose or you can use the piano finisher's rubbing oil which is mixed:
¶ 1 quart paraffine oil
¶ 1 quart turpentine, pure
¶ 5 ounces oil of cedar
¶ 3 ounces oil of citronella
¶ Mix thoroughly and let stand a few days or more before using. Water will not mix with these oils but an ounce or two added makes a better mixture when well shaken into it.
¶ Some finishers prefer a soft piece of felt about 3x5 inches, some a wad of cotton batting and some a clean, soft piece of cotton waste. Whichever is used, it should be dipped into the rubbing oil and squeezed out dry. Then the surface may be rubbed with it until coated with oil and then the very fine rottenstone may be sprinkled on to the oily surface. Some prefer to dip the rubbing pad in the dry rotten stone. The rubbing should be done in a circular manner and should proceed over the surface until a good polish has been gained by even pressure and an equal amount of rubbing on all areas. It takes time to produce this polish. When the polish has been completed wipe off the oil as clean as possible with a soft cloth or cotton waste. Then dampen the chamois skin with benzine and wipe off the surface. Then to remove every trace of oil, dry cornstarch or dry bran can be sprinkled on the surface and rubbed over it. After that polish the surface with a clean, soft cloth to a high lustre.
¶ A slower method of polishing is done with an extra coat of flowing or polishing, finishing varnish put on after the surface has had the usual rub with pumice stone and water and has been thoroughly cleaned up. Let this extra coat of varnish dry hard and then rub it fine with the finest pumice stone you can secure, FF grade, and water, using a soft felt pad. When a smooth and evenly dull surface has been secured, clean up by a thorough washing. Then wet the surface with water, wet the palm of the hand and pick up on it some dry and fine rotten stone. Rub the surface well and evenly with your hand, keeping the surface wet and using a circular motion. Decrease the amount of rotten stone gradually until you are rubbing with the hand and water alone. When finished let the surface dry and then with your hand clean and dry wipe off the rotten stone white powder which remains, cleaning your hand after each stroke. Polish with a soft piece of silk or a dry, soft chamois skin. This slower method produces better results than the oil polish described. The oil rub, however, always cuts faster than a water rub.
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