15 October 2009

Sticky fingers

It's often said that a French polisher is born with the gift...it appears to be something that can be learnt, but if you have the knack, well... it's a walk in the park.

Unfortunately, I don't have the gift.

French polishing, thankfully, is not something that I attempt very often and when I do, I try and keep it as simple as possible... there's no grain filling, use of a pounce bag (whatever that is) and convoluted 'figure of eight' strokes to obtain the perfect surface.
By a curious co-incidence, a very recent entry on Konrad's blog deals with the same subject and it's gratifying to a mere dauber (when it comes to finishing) that we go about the business in much the same way.
I use a 'rubber' with a piece of cotton wool as the reservoir and an old bed sheet as the cloth. I fold it in the same way as Konrad, but there the similarity ends as I don't use a dab of mineral oil as a lubricant.
I tend to make up the polish (using bleached blonde flakes) as a fairly weak solution (aka David Charlesworth), dunk the cotton wool in it, wrap it in the cloth and then use forefinger pressure to exude a thin smear on the surface. Konrad only does two coats a day...I bang on one after another at ten minute intervals (or at least until the meths has evaporated) so by the time two or three hours have elapsed I've probably put on maybe thirty coats of polish, all of which have hopefully blended into on another.

For the first few coats, nothing seems to happen (and I wonder if it ever will)...the job stays a uniform dull colour but then the miracle seems to happen and after an hour or so it begins to take on that fabulous glossy hue. When it's finished all I do is to leave it for 24hrs to harden off completely, then give it coat of wax applied with a soft cloth and polish with a duster.
The 'it' in question is the Blokeblade which I finished last night, so when the Competition is 'done and dusted' I'll put some pics on the Blog. In the meantime, I'm making excellent progress on it's 'accessory' which should also be finished fairly soon and again, is turning out better than expected.

Perhaps the worst part of this French polishing lark is the sticky residue that gets left behind in all the 'crooks and nannies' of your fingers...I seem to have been gnawing polish off with my teeth for days now!


The Village Carpenter said...

I certainly don't have the gift for any kind of finishing. Really, I should just pay someone to put finish on my projects once they're built.

Olly said...

Hi Rob,

Have you tried using meths to clean your hands? That's what I was taught at college. Pour some on to a clean cloth and gently (don't scrub!) wipe over your hands and in between your fingers. Add more meths as the cloth dries

It does take some time but, eventually, the meths will dissolve the polish.


Woodbloke said...

Kari - as a dauber of the basest kind I have to make do with the finishes that I know I can apply and be reasonably sure that what I do is reasonably good...oh, to win the lotto.

Olly - it's the fumes though...better than vino collapso on a Saturday night!