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Masters' Library


Wood Finishing by Paul N. Hasluck, 1908



This Handbook contains, in a form convenient for everyday use, a comprehensive digest of the knowledge of Staining, Varnishing, and Polishing Woods, scattered over ten thousand columns of WORK - the weekly journal it is my fortune to edit - and supplies concise information on the general principles of the crafts on which it treats.

In preparing for publication in book form the mass of relevant matter contained in the volumes of work much that was tautological in character had to be rejected.

The remainder necessarily had to be arranged anew, altered and largely re-written.

From these causes the contributions of many, are so blended that the writings of individuals cannot be distinguished for acknowledgment.

By French Polishing and spirit varnishing or both in combination, household furniture and many other things are covered with a lac solution, with the object of giving them a polished mirror-like surface, showing the beauty and figure of woods to the best advantage.


By painting, the latter qualities are hidden, and to an extent the cabinet-maker's skill has been so much labor in vain. The surface, as it comes from the cabinet maker's hands, shows an unfinished article, to which dust and finger marks would soon give a dirty appearance.

Staining is the process of imparting to the surface of wood a color different from its natural one. Staining requires no preliminary preparation, the stain being applied directly to the wood.

Most stains raise the grain of the wood to a considerable extent, so before applying varnish, it is necessary to sand-paper the wood enough to render the grain smooth again; this sometimes involves the use of a second coat of stain, after which the sand-paper must be again applied.

To simply stain a piece of wood in a uniform tint, and to produce a gloss by coats of varnish, is not all that is required in these modern days of keen competition ; and this is particularly true in the case of furniture of the medium and higher grades.

Readers who may desire additional information respecting special details of the matters dealt with in this Handbook, or instruction kindred subjects, should address a question to Work, so that it may be answered in the columns of that journal.

P. N. Hasluck

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