I have some minor repairs to do on a Grand Piano, which involve filling in
a big chip on the fall (lid over keys). This does mean that it won't be
seen much, but I would like to get the best I can.
Is the lacquer simply black french-polish, as if it is I can cope with
that? If not then does anyone have any tips for blending-in?
French polishing does not come in a colour, its beeswax and a lot of time
and elbow grease applied to any wood to give a mirror finish.
My guess is the wood is fumed ebony and then french polished to a high
Sir Benjamin Middlethwaite
Maybe you should read the words as well as looking at the pictures :-)
"French Polishing ... the art that requires unadulterated lac"
"London Joiners Ltd. practices the art of French Polishing by the
traditional French method, using button lac, Siam seed lac, and their
own preparations derived from sun-bleached seed lac."
"As to assessment, there are pieces that should never be lac polished at
all, which will be further explained in figure 1 below."
"To date, no writer in English has explained the presence of lac on a
few rare furniture examples dating from the Italian Renaissance."
"London Joiners" (whichever jobbing millshop they are) should try
reading the Merrifield's well-known 1849 "Original Treatises on the Art
of Painting" (cheap Dover reprint is easily available) which describes
shellac's use in the West from 1220. It's use on renaissance cassones
OTOH, they're right about the poor quality of the french polishing
article in FWW.
Never the less it was the original and earliest form of french polishing.
French polishing got the name because of the french introducing the shellac
method in the 1800's and the teqnique was used from then on as it was found
to be a more hardwaring one from the beeswax method.
Sir Benjamin Middlethwaite
Jewitt is wrong on his history here. Although he's always worth reading
on techniques, Sam Allen is a better source for historical repros.
French polishing obviously gets its name from its development by the
French ebenistes. However their innovation was in the technique, not the
use of shellac. Shellac was already in widespread use outside France,
primarily in reproducing "japanning" and the far-eastern urushiol
lacquers. The true nature of "vernis martin" is still debatable, but
the technique of french polishing (as it's known in the classic French
tradition) was in use in pre-revolutionary France.
And you appear to have confused the ability to type "french polish" into
Google with a few years experience in actually doing it. Yesterday you
thought it was made out of beeswax.
French polish is shellac in ethanol. Not beeswax.
Lacquers ARE paint..depending on the age of the piano that might be oil
based, or cellolose, or even a cold cure resin type.
I assume that teh balck is sold colour? If so try a trip to yoiur
nearets car spray place and beg a little bit of what they spray black
Slap that on and then use grades of emery, and Tcut to get a perfect
On Wed, 02 Nov 2005 12:54:14 +0000, The Natural Philosopher wrote:
I have found a source of black shellac polish so that is what I'll use.
As for the cellulose paint used on cars; I was tempted to use that on a new
piece I have to make, but I was a bit wary of using it on a repair.
I once used cellulose on a fridge that I had already use polyurethane on.
It was like using Nitromors as all the paint wrinkled and peeled in
Run away ! I'll fix coffins on the morning before the funeral with the
Departed still in them, but I'm not happy to work on good pianos. Far
too finickey things, and the better the piano, the fussier the finish.
If you do it, you really _must_ make finish some sample panels first.
And really you need to do this as well on some hidden parts of the real
finish, to check materials compatibility.
There's nothing simple about "black french polish".
Personally I don't believe that you _can_ french polish in black. Black
shellac is easy enough to obtain, but IMHE the black dye also makes it
too unstable for application as a true french polish (pumice on the
rubber with the shellac). When it's used, it's usually just brushed on,
or else "french polished" English-style, with the rubbing out as a
separate step on a hardened polish. Even then it takes an absolute age,
as black shellac remains soft for days.
It's a rare (and old) piano that's french polished in black. Probably
more of them were an undyed shellac (easier to polish) over an ebonised
veneer in something fine-grained and featureless. Some of these
ebonisations left acid residues which degrade the wood over time and
often it's the underlying veneer failing, not the finish. There's also
the acid polishing process used on many pianos, which is a whole other
can of worms.
As pianos were mass-produced early on and needed a good reliable shiny
black finish, they were on of the first bits of casework to adopt
non-shellac finishes and sprayed finishes. Chances are that it's
actually a cellulose lacquer - you'll need to identify this before
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