Polishing Woodwork

The simplest method of polishing wood of any kind, whether it is stained or not, is to rub it over with beeswax dissolved in turpentine to the consistency of soft butter.

The wax is shredded into a jar, and covered with turpentine. The jar is then heated by standing it in hot water or on a hot plate (it must be kept well away from a naked flame) till the wax is quite melted. The polish is then put aside to cool. If too thin or too thick, it must be reheated and more wax or turpentine be added, as the case may need.

The polish is rubbed in hard with a soft rag, and afterwards polished with a clean cloth. In fact, the procedure is the same as that of polishing walking shoes.

If water falls on a wax-polished surface it leaves marks; but these are effectively removed by a further application of the polish. The wax may, however, be set, that is, made resistant, b brushing it over gently with French polish, thinned with methylated spirit.

Oil polishing is very effective for hard woods. Linseed oil is simmered (not boiled) for a few minutes and allowed to cool. One-eighth of its bulk of turpentine is then added.

The oil is applied with a pad of several thicknesses of flannel wrapped round a cork or wooden block. The oil sinks into the grain, even after many applications, and obtaining a good dull polish is a matter of patience and elbow-grease. Rubbing may have to be repeated for many days. But when at last the wood has been satiated the effect on oak, mahogany, and American walnut is very fine.

The surface is water-resisting; but oil-polishing is not very suitable for the tops of tables on which linen will be laid, as it may cause staining.

French polishing gives unequalled results, but unfortunately the process is very complicated and tedious, and a great deal of practice is needed to ensure success. It may therefore be regarded as beyond the capacity of the amateur who is not prepared to take it very seriously.

It may, however, be mentioned that French-polished work which has become dull can be renewed by being cleaned with warm soda water, wiped quite dry, and rubbed over with a mixture c: 4 parts of French polish to 1 part of linseed oil. This is applied on a rag wrapped round a little wadding to form a soft pad. If the pad works stickily, a little more oil should be added to the mixture.

Woodwork, Screws and Screwing in. Screws should always be used for holding together the parts of highly-finished woodwork which may possibly have to be separated at some future time. They have much greater holding-power than nails of equal length and thickness. Countersunk-headed screws, which enter flush with the surface of the work, are most commonly used: round-headed screws, which stand out above the surface, are employed in special cases, such as fixing rim locks on doors.

The lengths of the different stock sizes of wood-screws are inch, inch, ½ inch, inch, ½ inch, 1 inch, 1 ½ inch, 1 inch, 1½ inch, 2 ins., 2 ins., 1 ins., 3 ins., Z ins., 4 ins., 5 ins., 5J ins. And 6 ins., and every length is obtainable in over a dozen gauges or thicknesses. It saves money to buy the smaller sizes, or any size of which many are used – such as inch, l½ inch and 2 ins

by the gross.

It saves time and trouble to keep the sizes in separate containers – old teacups or small jam-jars, for example – and to carry these in a special box, provided with a handle. There will then be less running to and fre in search of screws of the right size for the job in hand.

Use screws of stout gauge where they must be short, but have to stand a con-siderable strain; and long screws where these have to enter the holding part along the grain.

Wherever appearance is of importance, and the heads will show, use brass screws, though they are considerably more expensive than iron screws.

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