On Mon, 3 Nov 2003 07:12:42 -0800, "grampa simpson"
I don't have a "technique", I'm still trying to get it right.
Sometimes it works, more often it turns the whole surface a muddy
I got the idea from "Classic Wood Finishing" by George Frank
<(Amazon.com product link shortened)
This is the best guide to real French-style French polishing I've ever
read, and worth getting for that alone.
Most of the book is about colouring wood. Frank did a lot of
experimenting, and illustrates many of the results (lots of colour
pictures in this book). However he doesn't always describe the
process, and his chemical knowledge is frequently inaccurate. He's
the only ebeniste I've seen who could do much useful with logwood
though, let alone the infamously unstable alkanet root.
The birdseye maple is just there as an illustration. The process is to
make the surface moist and highly alkaline with caustic soda (lye),
then apply a solution of ferrous sulphate. My experience is that you
need to be quick with this, and have a reasonably strong solution. The
colouring is most effective around the "end grain" of the curl and
eyes, and you need to get the whole thing coloured and neutralised
before the whole piece of timber starts to turn grain, long grain too.
Slowness or excess dilution allows the whole piece to turn pale grey.
I keep lots of assorted ferrous salts around for doing copper
patination, including ferrous sulphate. Ferrous salts are cheap and of
low hazard, so they're quite easy to get hold of (there is no problem
in only commercial labs using them). If you can't find a retail
chemical supplier locally, try asking school chemistry teachers where
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