Category Archives: Staining, colouring and polishing

A Counterfeit Tortoise Shell Frame

Samuel Pepys’ diary entry for Wednesday 27 June 1666. He (Lovett) did also carry me to a Knight’s chamber in Graye’s Inne, where there is a frame of his making, of counterfeite [sic] tortoise shell, which indeed is most excellently … Continue reading

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What One Can and Cannot Do

You may read this as the forward to a book I have a mind to write. When woodworking: One can use kiln-dried timber for most purposes. One can often employ machinery and power tools. One can stick wood together with … Continue reading

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Suitable Spirit for Varnish-Making

When making spirit varnishes for polishing furniture etc., the gums and resins (colophony, sandarac and shellac etc.) are dissolved in ethyl alcohol (ethanol) – or more acceptably, for safety reasons these days – Industrial Methylated Spirit (IMS) or simply, ‘meths’. … Continue reading

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To Make Tortoise Shell Japan

Talking – as I was, with someone the other day – about the various methods I employed to simulate tortoise shell (and indeed, ‘tortoise shell’) on an earlier girandole and chest of drawers I made; I herewith append (as promised) William … Continue reading

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Ives, Diall’s & Co. Oil and Spirit Varnish Manufactory

Before the process of ‘French polishing’ was broadly adopted for finishing woodwork, a great deal of eighteenth-century furniture was simply, but skilfully polished with spirit varnish, laid on with a brush and then flattened. Colophony, copal, mastic, sandarac and shellac … Continue reading

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Shiny Happy People

With due acknowledgement to the British Museum, there’s an advertisement in their possession (annotated ‘1798’) for The Queen’s Royal Furniture Gloss, though quite what furniture gloss did or how it was applied, isn’t clear. In modern parlance, ‘furniture gloss’ might … Continue reading

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Assing Around

Sitting here in the stupor that is the aftermath of Christmas; ruminating on the equation of Pliny’s two bruscum tables, the enormity of it all gradually dawned on me. A swift clatter on the trusty abacus tells me that’s 2,500,000 … Continue reading

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‘Mulberry’ Addendum

It seems even as long ago as AD 78 when Pliny published Naturalis Historia; bruscum was in extraordinarily high demand for furniture as noted by Evelyn: “Acer (campestre) foliis lobatis obtusis emarginatis Lin. Sp. PI. 1497. Acer Campestre et minus. … Continue reading

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Mulberry – Soiled, not Stained.

A George I mulberry bureau in the manner of Coxed and Woster. (Christie’s) Is this beautiful early Georgian piece of furniture really made of mulberry? In Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, the subject of my post, an eighteenth-century … Continue reading

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