John Phin.

The workshop companion. A collection of useful and reliable recipes, rules, processes, methods, wrinkles, and practical hints for the household and the shop online

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sandarach, 2} Ibs. Put these ingredients into a tin bottle,
warm gently and shake till dissolved. Then add a pint of
pale turpentine varnish.

Wood, Parisian Varnish for. To prepare a good varnish
for fancy woods, dissolve one part of good shellac in "three to
four parts of alcohol of 92 per cent, in a water-bath, and
cautiously add distilled water iintil a curdy mass separates
out, which is collected and pressed between linen; the liquid
is filtered through paper, all the alcohol removed by distilla-
tion from the Avater bath, and the resin removed and dried at
100 3 centigrade until it ceases to lose weight; it is then
dissolved in double its weight of alcohol of at least 96
per cent. , and the solution perfumed with lavender oil.

Wood Stained, Varnish for. A solution of four ounces of
sandarac, one ounce gum mastic, and four ounces shellac, in
one pound of alcohol, to which two ounces oil of turpentine
is added, can be recommended as a varnish over stained
woods.

Varnishing.

Before beginning to varnish, it is necessary that the
surface to which it is to be applied, should be perfectly
free from all grease and smoke stains, for it will be found
if this is not attended to, the varnish will not dry hard.
If the varnish is to be applied to old articles, it is necessary
to wash them very carefully with soap and water before ap-
plying it. When it is wished that the varnish should dry
quickly and hard, it is necessary to be careful that the var-
nish should always be kept as long a time as possible before
being used ; and also that too high a temperature has not
been used in manufacturing the varnish employed. It is
likewise customary, when it can be done, to expose the article
to the atmosphere of a heated room. This is called stoving
it, and is found to greatly improve the appearance of the



144 THE WORKSHOP COMPANION.

work, as well as to cause the varnish to dry quickly. After
the surface is varnished, to remove all the marks left by the
brush, it is usually carefully polished with finely-powdered
pumice stone and water. Afterwards, to give the surface the
greatest polish it is capable of receiving, it is rubbed over
with a clean soft rag, on the surface of which a mixture of
very finely powdered tripoli and oil has been applied. The
surface is afterwards cleaned with a soft rag and powdered
starch, and the last polish is given with the palm of the hand.
This method is, however, only employed when those varnishes
are used which, when dry, become sufficiently hard to admit
of it.

A good surface may be produced on unpainted wood by
the following treatment : Glass-paper the wood thoroughly as
for French polishing, size it, and lay on a coat of varnish,
very thin, with a piece of sponge or Avadding covered with a
piece of linen rag. When dry, rub down with pumice dust,
and apply a second coat of varnish. Three or four coats
should produce a surface almost equal to French polish, if
the varnish is good and the pumice dust be well applied
between each coat. The use of a sponge or wadding instead
of a brush aids in preventing the streaky appearance usually
caused by a brush in the hands of an unskilled person.

When varnish is laid on a piece of cold furniture or a cold
carriage-body, even after it has been spread evenly and with
dispatch, it will sometimes "crawl" and roll this way and
that way as if it were a liquid possessing vitality and the power
of locomotion. It is sometimes utterly impossible to varnish
an article at all satisfactorily during cold weather and in a
cold apartment. In cold and damp weather a carriage, chair
or any other article to be varnished should be kept in a clean
and warm apartment where there is no dust flying, until the
entire woodwork and iron-work have been warmed through
and through, to a temperature equal to that of summer heat
say eighty degrees. That temperature should be maintained
day and night. If a fire is kept for only eight or ten hours
during the day, the furniture will be cold, even in a warm
paint-room. Before any varnish is applied, some parts of the
surface which may have been handled frequently, should be
rubbed with a woolen cloth dipped in spirits of turpentine,
so as to remove any greasy, oleaginous matter which may
have accumulated. Table-beds, backs of chairs, and fronts



THE WOKKSHOP COMPANION. 145

of bureau drawers are sometimes so thoroughly glazed over
that varnish will not aclbere to the surface, any more than
water will lie smoothly on recently painted casings. Tli3
varnish should also be warm not hot and it should be
spread quickly and evenly. As soon as it flows from the
brush readily and spreads evenly, and before it commences
to set, let the rubbing or brushing cease. Oae can always
do a better job by laying on a coat of medium heaviness,
rather than a very light coat or a covering so heavy that the
varnish will hang down in ridges. Varnish must be of tho
proper consistency, in order to flow just right and to set
with a smooth surface. If it is cither too thick or too thin
one cannot do a neat job.

When it is wished to varnish drawings, engravings, or
other paper articles, it is usual to give them a coat of size
before applying the varnish. For the preparation of Size see
article under that head.

To Restore Spotted Varnish. If the varnish has been
blistered by heat or corroded by strong acids, the only
remedy is to scrape or sandpaper the article and revarnish.
Spots may often be removed by the following process : Make
a mixture of eqiial parts of linseed oil, alcohol and turpentine,
sWyhtly moisten a rag with it, and rub the spots until they
disappear. Then polish the spot with ordinary blotting
paper. Varnish injured by heat can hardly be restored in
any other way than by removing it and applying a fresh
coat.

Voltaic Batteries.

In every kind of battery it is essential that the connections
be bright, and that the metal surfaces which are to be united
should be brought together under considerable pressure.
Those batteries which depend for contact upon light springs,
and the mere placing of wires in holes, lose a great deal of
available power. The surfaces ought invariably to be filed
bright and pressed together by means of screws. We have
frequently seen the action of the batteries used for medical
purposes entirely stopped by a thin film of oxide.

The zincs also should always be thoroughly amalgamated to
prevent waste. When the zincs are new and uncorroded,
amalgamation is an easy process. Dip the zincs in dilute
sulphuric acid (8 parts water and 1 of acid), and rub them



148 THE WORKSHOP COMPANION,

with mercury. The mercury will adhere quite readily and
render the entire surface brilliant and silvery. But when the
zincs are old and corroded it will be found that the mercury
does not adhere to some parts. In such cases wash the sur-
face of the zinc with a solution of nitrate of mercury and it
will become coated with amalgam. Once the surface is
touched, it is easy to add as much mercury as may be desired
by simply rubbing on the liquid metal.

The coating of mercury adds greatly to the durability of
the zincs, as when so prepared the acid will not act on them
except when the current is passing, and from the excellent
condition of the entire surface the power of the batteiy is
greatly increased.

Watch Care of.

1. Wind your watch as nearly as possible at same hour
every day. 2. Be careful that the key is in good condition, as
there is much danger of injuring the works when the key is
worn or cracked ; there are more main springs and chains
broken through a jerk in winding than from any other cause,
which injury will sooner or later be the result if the key be
in bad order. 3. As all metals contract by cold and expand
by heat, it must be manifest that to keep the watch as nearly
as possible at one temperature, is a necessary piece of atten-
ti Y.I. 4. Keep the watch as constantly as possible in one
position, that is, if it hangs by day let it hang by night,
against something soft. 5. The hands of a pocket chronom-
eter or duplex watch should never be set backwards ; in other
watches this a matter of 110 consequence. 6. The glass
should never be opened in watches which set a-nd regulate at
the back. One or two directions more it is of vital importance
that you bear in mind. On regulating a watch, should it be
fast, move the regulator a trifle towards the slow ; and if
going slow, do the reverse ; you cannot move the regulator
too slightly or too gently at a time, and the only inconven-
ience that can arise is having to perform the operation more
than once. On the contrary, if you move the regulator too
much at a time, you will be as far, if not further than ever,
from attaining your object, so that you may repeat the move-
ment until quite tired and disappointed, stoutly blaming
both watch and watchmaker, while the fault is entirely your
own. Again, you cannot be too careful in respect of the



THE WORKSHOP COMPANION. 147

nature and condition of your watch-pocket ; see that it be
made of something soft and pliant, such as wash-leather,
which is the best, and also that there be no Hue or nap that
may be torn off when taking the watch out of the pocket.
Cleanliness, too. is as needful here as in the key before wind-
ing ; for, if there be dust or dirt in either instance, it will,
you may rely upon it, work its way into the watch, as well
as wear away the engine-turning of the case.

Waterproofing.

Porous goods are made waterproof according to two very
distinct systems. According to the first the articles are made
absolutely impervious to Avater and air by having their pores
filled up with some oily or gummy substance, which becomes
stiff and impenetrable. Caoutchouc, paints, oils, melted wax,
etc. , are of this kind. The other system consists in making
the fabric repellent to water, while it remains quite porous
and freely admits the passage of air. Goods so prepared
will resist any ordinary rain, and we have seen a very porous
fabric stretched over the mouth of a vessel and resist tho
passage of water one or two inches deep. The following
recipes have been tried and found good. Most of those found
in th"e recipe books are worthless.

To Render Leather Waterproof. 1. Melt together 2 oz. of
Burgundy pitch, 2 oz. of soft wax, 2 oz. of turpentine, and 1
pint of raw linseed oil. Lay on with a brush while warm.

2. Melt 3 oz. lard and add 1 oz. powdered resin. This
mixture remains soft at ordinary temperatures, and is an ex-
cellent application for leather.

Water-proof Canvas for Covering Carts, etc. 9 gallons
linseed oil, 1 Ib. litharge, 1 Ib. urnber, boiled together for 21
hours. May be colored with any paint. Lay on with a
brush.

To Make Sailcloth Impervious to Water, and yet Pliant
and Durable. Grind 6 Ibs. English ochre with boiled oil, and
add 1 Ib. of black paint, Avhich mixture forms an indifferent
black. An ounce of yellow soap, dissolved by heat in half a
pint of water, is mixed while hot with the paint. This com-
position is laid upon dry canvas as stiff as can conveniently
be done with the brush. Two days after, a second coat of
ochre and black paint (without any soap) is laid on, and,
allowing this coat time to dry, the canvas is finished with a.



148 THE WOKKSHOP COMPANION.

coat of any desired color. After three days it does not stick
together when folded up. This is the formula used in the
British navy yards, and it has given excellent results. We
have seen a portable boat made of canvas prepared in this
way and stretched on a skeleton frame.

Metallic Soap for Canvas. The following is highly recom-
mended as a cheap and simple process for coating canvas for
wagon tops, tents, awnings, etc. It renders it impermeable
to moisture, without making it stiff and liable to break.
Soft soap is to be dissolved in hot water, and a solution of
sulphate of iron added. The sulphuric acid combines with
the potash of the soap, and the oxide of iron is precipitated
with the fatty acid as insoluble iron soap. This is washed
and dried, and mixed with linseed oil. The soap prevents
the oil from getting hard and cracking, and at the same time
water has no effect on it.

The following recipes are intended to be applied to woven
fabrics, which they leave quite pervious to air but capable
of resisting water.

1. 'Apply a strong solution of soap, not mere soap suds, to
the wrong side of the cloth, and when dry wash the other
side with a solution of alum.

2. The following recipe is substantially the same as the
preceding, but if carefully followed in its details gives better
results :

Take the material successively through baths of sulphate
of alumina, of soap and of water ; then dry and smother or
calender. For the alumina bath, use the ordinary neutral
sulphate of alumina of commerce (concentrated alum cake),
dissolving 1 part in 10 of water, which is easily done without
the application of heat. The soap is best prepared in this
manner : Boil 1 part of light resin, 1 part of soda crystals,
and 10 of water, till the resin is dissolved ; salt the soap out
by the addition of one-third part of common salt ; dissolve
this soap with an equal amount of good palm oil soap (navy
soap) in 30 parts of water. The soap bath should be kept
hot while the goods are passing through it. It is best to have
three vats along side of each other, and by a special ai'rangc-
ment to keep the goods down in the baths. Special care
should be taken to have the fabric thoroughly soaked in tho
alumina bath.

3. Drs. Hager and Jacobsen remark that during the last



THE WOBKSHP" COMPANION. 149

few years very good and ch^p waterproof goods of this de-
scription have been manufactured in Berlin, which they
believe is effected by steeping them first in a bath of sulphate
of alumina and of copper, and then into one of water-glass
and resin soap.

Whitewash.

The process of whitewashing is known by various names,
such as " calcimining. " " kalsomining, " etc., most of them
derived evidently from the latin name for lime, which was
the principal ingredient of all the older forms of white-
wash.

Professors of the "Art of Kalsomining" affect a great
deal of mystery, but the process is very simple. It consists
simply in making a whitewash with some neutral substance
which is made to adhere by means of size or glue. It contains
no caustic material like lime. Several substances have been
used with good results. The best is zinc white. It gives the
most brilliant effect but is the most expensive r The next is
Paris white or sulphate of baryta. This, when pure, is nearly
equal to zinc white, but, unfortunately, common whiting is
often sold for it, and more often mixed with it. It is not
difficult, however, to detect common whiting either when
alone or mixed with Paris white. When vinegar, or better
still, spirits of salt, is poured on whiting, it foams or effer-
vesces, but produces no effect on Paris white. Good whiting,
however, gives very fair results and makes a far better finish
than common lime as ordinarily used. When well made,
however, good lime whitewash is very valuable for out-houses,
and places where it is desirable to introduce a certain degree
of disinfecting action. One of the best recipes for lime
whitewash is that known as the " White House" whitewash,
and sometimes called "Treasury Department'' whitewash,
from the fact that it is the recipe sent out by the Lighthouse
Board of the Treasury Department. It has been found, by ex-
perience, to answer on wood, brjck and stone, nearly as well
as oil paint, and is much cheaper. Slake one-half bushel
unslaked lime with boiling water, keeping it covered during
the process. Strain it and add a peck of salt, dissolved in
warm water ; three pounds ground rice, put in boiling water
and boiled to a thin paste ; one-half pound powdered Spanish
whiting and a pound of clear glue, dissolved in warm water ;



150 THE WORKSHOP -COMPANION.

mix these well together and let the mixture stand for several
days. Keep the wash thus prepared in a kettle or portable
furnace, and, when used, put it on as hot as possible with
painters' or whitewash brushes.

Kalsomine, as distinguished from lime whitewash, is best
suited for the interior of rooms in the dwelling house. To
kalsomine a good sized room with two coats, proceed as
follows :

Select some very clear colorless glue and soak J Ib. in water
for 12 hours. Then boil it, taking great care that it does not
burn, and this is best done by setting the vessel with the glue
in a pan of water over the fire. When completely dissolved
add it to a large pail of hot water, and into any desired
quantity of this stir as much of the white material used as
will make a cream. The quality of the resulting work will
depend on the skill of the operator, but we may remark that
it is easier to get a smooth hard finish by using three coats
of thin wash than by using one coat of thick. If you have
time for but one coat, however, you must give it body enough,
In giving more than one coat let the last coat contain less
glue than the preceding ones.

Kalsomine, such as we have described, may be colored
by means of any of the cheap coloring stuffs.

The following is recommended as a good kalsomining fluid
for walls : White glue, 1 pound ; white zinc, 10 pounds ;
Paris white, 5 pounds ; water, sufficient. Soak the glue over
night in three quarts of water, then add as much water again,
and heat on a water bath till the glue is dissolved. In another
pail put the two .powders, and pour on hot water, stirring all
the time, until the liquid appears like thick milk. Mingle
the two liquids together, stir thoroughly, and apply to the
wall with a whitewash brush.

It is often desirable to " kill " old whitewash, as it is called,
as otherwise it would be impossible to get new whitewash
or paper to stick to the walls. After scraping and washing
off all lose material give the walls a thorough washing with
a solution of sulphate of zinc (2 oz. to 1 gallon of water).
The lime will be changed to plaster of Paris, and the zinc
will be converted into zinc white, and if a coat of kalsomine
be now given it will adhere very strongly and have great
body. <



THE WORKSHOP COMPANION. 151

Wood-Floors.

The following method of staining floors in oak or walnut
colors is highly commended by the London Furniture Gazette;
Put 1 oz. Vandyke brown in oil, 3 oz, pearlash, and 2 drins:
dragon's blood, into an earthenware pan or large pitcher {
pour on the mixture 1 quart of boiling water ; stii with rt
piece of wood. The stain may be used hot or colds The
boards should be smoothed with a plane and glass-papered j
fill up the cracks with plaster of Paris ; the brush should not
be rubbed across the boards, but lengthwise. Only a small
piece should be done at a time. By rubbing on one place
more than another an appearance of oak or walnut is moro
apparent ; when quite dry, the boards should be sized with
glue size, made by boiling glue in water, and brushing it in
the boards hot. "When this is dry, the boards should be
papered smooth and varnished with brown hard varnish or
oak varnish ; the brown hard varnish will wear better and
dry quicker ; it should be thinned with a little French polish,
and laid on the boards with a smooth brush.

Wax for Polishing Floors. To prepare this, 12 pounds
yellow Avax, rasped, are stirred into a hot solution of 6 pounds
good pearlash, in rain water. Keeping the mixture well
stirred while boiling, it is first quiet, but soon commences to
froth ; and when the effervescence ceases, heat is stopped,
and there are added to the mixture, while still stirring,
pounds dry yellow ochre. It may then be poured into tin
cans or boxes, and hardens on cooling. When wanted for
use, a pound of it is diffused into 5 pints boiling hot water,
and the mixture well stirred, applied while still hot to the
floor by means of a paint brush. It dries in a few hours,
after which the floor is to be polished with a large floor brush
and afterwards wiped with a coarse woolen cloth A coat of
this wax will last six months.

Wood Polishing.

Knotted or cross-grained wood cannot be planed with the
planes used for deal, but with a special tool, of which the
iron is placed at a more obtuse angle. These planes can be had
in wood or metal, and are in general use by cabinet-makers.
They are named according to the angle at which the iron is
placed. For deal and soft wood this is 45 degrees, or York
pitch ; while the iron set at 55 degrees, middle pitch, or 60



152 THE WORKSHOP COMPANION,

degrees, half pitch, is Used for molding planes for soft and hard
wood. When the latter is, however, very knotty, it is worked
over in all directions with a toothing plane, so as to cut across
the fibres and reduce the surface to a general level. It is
then finished by the scraper, often a piece of freshly broken
glass, but more properly a thin plate of steel set in a piece of
wood, and ground off quite square. The edge is then often
rubbed with a burnisher, to turn up a slight wire edge.
This will scrape down the surface of the wood until it is
ready for " papering," i. e., being further smoothed by glass
or sandpaper. This is to be rubbed in all directions, until
the work has an even surface, and the lines thus produced
are further reduced by the finest sandpaper, marked 00.
After this it is rubbed over with a bit of flannel, dipped in
linseed oil, and allowed to dry. This oiling is then repeated,
and the work again set aside for a day or more, until the oil
is fairly absorbed.

If the wood be porous it must first \)Q filled, as it is called,
and for this nothing is better than whiting colored so as to
resemble the wood and kept dry. Rub the wood with linseed
oil and then sprinkle it with whiting. Rub the latter well in,
wipe it off carefully and give time to dry. This is far su-
perior to size.

The polish French polish is made by dissolving shellac
in alcohol, methylated spirits, or even naphtha. This is
facilitated by placing the jar or bottle in a warm place, on
a stove or by the fire. Other gums are often added, but arc
not generally necessary. In short, no two polishers use pre-
cisely similar ingredients, but shellac is the base of all of
them. The following recipes have been collected from various
sources more or less reliable :

1. Shellac, 4 oz. ; alcohol, 1 pLJ 2. Shellac, 4 oz. ; sarHl-

arac, oz. ; alcohol, 1 pint 3. Finishing polish : Alcohol

(95 per cent.), pint; shellac, 2 dr.; gum benzoin, 2 dr.;
put into a bottle, loosely corking it, and stand it near a fire,
shaking it occasionally. When cold, add two teaspoonfuls
of poppy oil, and shake well together.

These, it must be remembered, are polishes to be applied
by means of rubbers, and not by a brush. Those used in the
latter way are varnishes, such as are applied to cheap wares
and also to parts of furniture and such articles as are carved
and cannot in consequence be finished by rubbing.



THE WOKKSHOP COMPANION. > 153

The polisher generally consists of a wad of list rolled
spirally, tied with twine and covered with a few thick-
nesses of linen rag. Apply a little varnish to the middle of
the rubber and then enclose the latter in a soft linen rag
folded twice. Moisten the face of the linen with a little raw
linseed oil applied to the middle of it by means of the finger.
Pass the rubber quickly and lightly over the surface of the
work in small circular strokes until the varnish becomes
nearly dry ; charge the rubber with varnish again and
repeat the rubbing till three coats are laid on, when a little
oil may be applied to the rubber and two more coats given
it. Proceed in this way until the varnish has acquired some
thickness ; then wet the inside of the linen cloth, before ap-
plying the varnish, with alcohol, and rub quickly, lightly
and uniformly, the whole surface. Lastly, wet the linen
cloth with a little oil and alcohol, without varnish, and rub
as before till dry. Each coat is to be rubbed until the rag
appears dry, and too much varnish must not be put on the
rag at one time. Be also very particular to have the rags
clean, as the polish depends in a great degree u^on keeping
everything free from dust and dirt.

To insure success the work must be ,done in a warm room,
free from dust.

Turned articles must be brought to a fine smooth surface
with the finest sandpaper, and the direction of the motion
should be occasionally reversed so that the fibres which are
laid down by rubbing one way may be raised up and cut off.
To apply the polish, which is merely a solution of shellac in


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Online LibraryJohn PhinThe workshop companion. A collection of useful and reliable recipes, rules, processes, methods, wrinkles, and practical hints for the household and the shop → online text (page 14 of 16)