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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and stained engravings and books, as Avell as linen and cotton
goods that have become yellow with dirt and age, may be
rendered snowy white by the application of this liquid

Jewelry and Gilded Ware.

Ordinary gold Jewelry may be effectually cleansed by wash-
ing with soap and warm water, rinsing in cold water and
drying in warm boxwood sawdust. Plain, smooth surfaces
may be rubbed with chamois leather charged either with
rouge or prepared chalk, but the less rubbing the better.

Silver is liable to tarnish by the action of sulphur, and
where there is fine chased or engraved work the extreme
delicacy of the lines may be injured by much rubbing. In
such cases the articles may be cleaned by washing with a
solution of hyposulphite of soda. Cyanide of potassium is
a more powerful cleansing agent but is very poisonous.

In cleaning gilded ware, different processes must be
used for articles gilded by fire or by the galvanic process,
and articles gilded by gold leaf, such as frames, etc. For
cleaning articles gilded by the first-named methods, one part
cf borax is dissolved in sixteen parts of water. With this
solution the article is carefully rubbed by means of a soft
sponge or brush, then rinsed with water, and finally dried
with a linen rag, or if small, such as a piece of jewelry, with
boxwood sawdust. If at all convenient, the article is warmed
previously to being rubbed, by which means the brilliancy
of it-is greatly increased. In cleaning gilded frames of tho
last named order, pure water only must be employed, and the.
rubbing off of the impurities must take place by means of a


very slight pi^sure. Wares of imitation gilt are generally
covered with ? shellac or resin varnish, which would be dis-
solved by the application of soap water, alkaline solutions,
or spirits of wine. Were the varnish rubbed off, the exceed-
ingly thin layer of gold or silver leaf beneath would also
disappear. In our experience we have seen hundreds of once
valuable but now worthless frames, they having become thus
simply by the application of soap water.


Lacquer is so called because it usually contains gum lac,
either shellac or seed lac. Seed lac is the original form of
the gum or resin ; after being purified it is moulded into thin
sheets, like shell, and hence is called shellac. Shellac is
frequently bleached so as to become quite white, in which
state it forms a colorless solution. Bleached shellac is never
as strong as the gum in its natural condition, and unless it
be fresh it neither dissolves well in alcohol nor does it
preserve any metal to which it may be applied.

There are many recipes for good lacquer, but the success
of the operator depends quite as much upon skill as upon
the particular recipe employed. The metal must be cleaned
perfectly from grease and dirt, and in lacquering new work
it is always best to lacquer as soon after polishing as possible.
Old lacquer may be removed with a strong lye of potash or
soda, after which the work should be well washed in water,
dried in fine beech or boxwood sawdust and polished with
whiting, applied with a soft brush. The condition of the
work, as to cleanliness and polish, is perhaps the most im-
portant point in lacquering.

The metal should be heated and the lacquer applied evenly
with a soft camel hair brush. A temperature of about that
of boiling water will be found right.

The solution of lac or varnish is colored to suit the require-
ments or taste of the user.

A good pale lacquer consists of three parts of Cape aloes
and one of turmeric to one of simple lac varnish. A full
yellow contains four of turmeric and one of annatto to one of
lac varnish., A gold lacquer, four of dragon's-blood and one
of turmeric to one of lac varnish. A red, thirty-two parts of
annatto and eight of dragon's-blood to one of lac varnish.

A great deal depends, also, upon the depth of color im-


parted to the lacquer, and as tliis may require to be varied,
a very good plan is to make up a small stock bottle, holding,
say, half a pint, according to any good recipe, and add as
much of it to the varnish as may be required for the desired

The following are a few favorite recipes :

Deep Gold Lacquer. Alcohol, pint ; dragon's-blood, 1
drachm ; seed lac, l oz. ; turmeric, oz. Shake up well for
a week, at intervals of, say, a couple of hours ; then allow to
settle, and decant the clear lacquer ; and if at all dirty niter
through a tuft of cotton wool. This lacquer may be diluted
with a simple solution of shellac in alcohol and will then give
a paler tint.

Bright Gold Lacquei\ 1. Turmeric, 1 oz..; saffron J oz. ;
Spanish annatto, oz. ; alcohol, 1 pint. Digest at a gentle
heat for several days ; strain through coarse linen ; put the
tincture in a bottle and add 3 oz. good seed lac coarsely
powdered. Let it stand for several days, shaking occasion-
ally. Allow to settle and use the clear liquid.

2. Take 1 oz. annatto and 8 oz. alcohol. Mix in a bottle
by themselves. Also mix separately 1 oz. gamboge and 8 oz.
alcohol. With these mixtures color seed lac varnish to suit
yourself. If it be too red add gamboge ; if too yellow add
annatto ; if the color be too deep, add spirit. In this manner
you may color brass of any desired tint.

Pale Gold Lacqiier. Best pale shellac (picked pieces), 8 oz. ;
sandarac, 2 oz. ; turmeric, 8 oz. ; annatto, 2 oz. ; dragon's-blood,
oz. ; alcohol, 1 gallon. Mix, shake frequently till the gums
are dissolved and the color extracted from the coloring
matters and then allow to settle.

Lacquer used by A. Ross. 4 oz. shellac and oz. gamboge
are dissolved by agitation, without heat, in 24 oz. pure pyro-
acetic ether. The solution is allowed to stand "until the
gummy matters, not taken up by the spirit, subside. The
clear liquor is then decanted, and when required for use is
mixed with 8 times its quantity of alcohol. In this case the
pyro-acetic ether is employed for dissolving the shellac in
order to prevent any but the purely resinous portions being
taken up, which is almost certain to occur with ordinary
alcohol ; but if the lacquer were made entirely with pyro-
acetic ether, the latter would evaporate too rapidly to allow
time for the lacquer to be equally applied.


Lacquers suffer a chemical change by heat and light, and
must, therefore, be kept in a cool place and in dark vessels.
The pans used should be either of glass or earthenware, and
the brushes cf camel's hair with no metal fittings.

Laundry Gloss.

Various recipes have been given for imparting a find gloss
to linen. Gum arabic, white wax, spermaceti, etc., have all
been highly recommended, and are, no doubt, useful to a
certain extent, but the great secret seems to lie in the quality
of the iron used and the skill of the laundress. If the iron is
hard, close grained and finely polished, the work will be
much easier. Laundresses always have a favorite smoothing
iron with which they do most of their work, and many of
them have the front edge of the iron rounded so that great
pressure can be brought to bear on a very small spot instead
of being spread over a space the size of the whole face of the
iron. If smoothing irons have become rough and rusty it
will pay to send them to a grinder to have them not only
ground but buffed (see aritcle on Polishing Metals). The
greatest care should be taken not to allow them to get spotted
with rust, and they should never be " brightened " with
coarse sand, ashes, emery, etc. If it is necessary to poliyh
them, ru-13 them on a board, or preferably a piece of leather
charged with the finest flour of emery, obtained by washing,
or better still, jeweller's rouge.

Leaves Skeleton.

The following is a simple method of preparing skeleton
leaves, and is decidedly preferable to the old and tedious
method of maceration, as it is quite as efficient and not at all
offensive. First dissolve four ounces of common washing
soda in a quart of boiling water, then add two ounces of
slaked quicklime and boil for about fifteen minutes. Allow
the solution to cool : afterwards pour off all the clear liquor
into a clean saucepan. When this liquor is at its boiling
heat place the leaves carefully in the pan, and boil the whole
together for an hour, adding from time to time enough wator
to make up for the loss by evaporation. The epidermis and
parenchyma of some leaves will more readily separate than
others. A good test is to try the leaves after they have been
gently boiling for an hour, and if the cellular matter does not
easily rub off betwixt the finger and thumb beneath cold


water, boil them again for a short time. When the fleshy
matter is found to be sufficiently softened, rub them sepa-
rately but very gently beneath cold water until the perfect
skeleton is exposed.

The skeletons, at first, are of a dirty white color ; to make
them of a pure white, and therefore more beautiful, all that
is necessary is to bleach them in a weak solution of chloride
of lime a large teaspoonful of chloride of lime to a quart of
water ; if a few drops of vinegar are added to the solution it
is all the better, for then the free chlorine is liberated. Do
not allow them to remain too long in the bleaching liquor,
or they will become too brittle, and cannot afterwards be
handled without injury. About fifteen minutes will be suf-
ficient to make them white and clean looking. Dry the speci-
mens in white blotting paper, beneath a gentle pressure.
Simple leaves are the best for young beginners to experiment
on ; the vine, poplar, beach and ivy leaves make excellent
skeletons. Care must be exercised in the selection of leaves,
as well as the period of the year and the state of the atmo-
sphere when the specimens are collected ; otherwise, failure
will be the result. The best months to gather the specimens
are July and August. Never collect specimens in damp
weather, and none but perfectly matured leaves ought to be

Lights Signal and Colored.

The following recipes are from the United States Ordnance
Manual, and may be considered reliable. The composition
for signal lights is packed in shallow vessels of large diame-
ter so as to expose considerable surface. Where the burning
surface is large, the light attains great intensity, but the ma-
terial burns out rapidly. In arranging the size and shape of
the case, therefore, regard must be had to the time the light
is expected to burn and the brilliancy that is wanted. [See
caution at end of lids article.]

Bengal Light. Antimony, 2 ; sulphur, 4 ; mealed powder,
4 ; nitrate of soda, 16.

Blue. Black sulplmret of antimony, 1 ; sulphur, 2 ; pure
nitre, 6. Grind to a very fine powder and mix thoroughly.
See that the nitre is perfectly dry. This composition gives
a bluish white light ; a deeper blue may be had by the addi-
tion of a little finely pulverized zinc.



Red. 1. Saltpetre, 5 ; sulphur, 6 ; nitrate of strontia, 20 ;
lampblack, 1.

2. Nitrate of strontia, 20 ; chlorate of potassa, 8 ; Sulphur,
6 ; charcoal, 1.

White. Saltpetre, 16 ; sulphur, 8 ; mealed powder, 4.
Grind to a very fine powder and mix well.

The following have been very highly recommended :

Crimson Fire. Sulphide of antimony, 4 ; chlorate of po-
tassa, 5 ; powdered roll brimstone, 13 ; dry nitrate of strontia,
40 parts.

A very little charcoal added to the above makes it burn

Green Fire. Fine charcoal, 3 ; sulphur, 13 ; chlorate of
potassa, 8 ; nitrate of baryta, 77.

White. 1. Nitrate of potassa (saltpetre), 24 ; sulphur 7 ;
charcoal, 1.

2. Nitre, 6 ; sulphur, 2 ; yellow sulphuret of arsenic, 1.
[NOTE. This light is a very brilliant one and a very pure
white, but the fumes are highly poisonous. It should be
used only in the open air and 'the wind should blow the
vapors away from the spectators not towards them.]

3. Chlorate of potash, 10 ; nitre, 5 ; lycopodiuni, 3 ; char-
coal 2. -

4. Metallic magnesium in the form of ribbon or wire. This
is the best and most easily used. It may be purchased of
most dealers in chemicals. A few inches of magnesium rib-
bon coiled into a spiral (like a spiral spring) and ignited by
means of a spirit lamp, or even by a little tuft of cotton
soaked in alcohol and fired with a lucifer match, makes a
light of surpassing brilliancy and power. It requires a slight
knack to ignite the ribbon. Hold the end of it steadily in
the outer edge of the flame and it will soon take fire. The
light given out by a small ribbon of magnesium is clearly
visible at a distance of thirty miles.

Lights for Indoor Illuminations. Many of the above are
unfit for indoor exhibitions owing to the amount of sul-
phurous gas given off. For tableaux in churches, schools
and private houses, the best light is undoubtedly magnesium
or, where it can be had, the lime light (sometimes, though
erroneously, called the calcium light). Both of these lights
are very powerful, and any color may be obtained by the
use of pieces of differently colored glass. A very effective


arrangement consists of a cin box, which may be made out
of one of those cases in which crackers are imported. Pro
cure good-sized pieces of red and blue glass, the red being a
soft, warm tint, such as will add a richness to the complex-
ions of those upon whom the light is thrown. Arrange one
end of the tin box so that these glasses may be slipped over
a large hole in it. The opposite end of the box should be
highly polished s-o as to act as a reflector, and a hole should
be cut in one side so as to allow of the introduction of the

In every case the burning matter should be so shaded
that it may not be seen by the audience. If the direct light
from the burning body meets the eyes of the spectators the
reflected light from the objects composing the tableau will
have no effect.

Where arrangements for lime or magnesium lights cannot
be made, the following may be used.

White. Chlorate of potash, 12 ; nitre, 5 ; finely powdered
loaf sugar, 4 ; lycopodium 2.

Green. Nitrate of baryta, shellac and chlorate of potassa,
all finely powdered, equal parts by bulk.

Red. Nitrate of strontia, shellac and chlorate of potassa,
all finely powdered, equal parts by bulk.

The brilliancy of these fires will depend largely upon the
thoroughness with which the materials are finely powdered
and mixed. [See caution at end of this article. J

Braunschweizer recommends the following formulse as
giving excellent results, the lights being good without pro-
ducing injurious fumes :

Red. Nitrate of strontia, 9 ; shellac, 3 ; chlorate of pot-
assa, l.

Green. Nitrate of baryta, 9 ; shellac, 3 ; chlorate of pot-
assa, \\.

'Slue. Ammoniacal sulphate of copper, 8; chlorate of
potassa, 6; shellac, 1.

The Pharmacist gives the following formula for "Bed
Fire," which will not evolve sulphurous acid during com-
bustion : nitrate of strontia, 1 Ib. ; chlorate of potassa, J Ib. ;
shellac, Ib.

These ingredient must be thoroughly dried, powdered
separately, and carefully mixed by gentle stirring.

Ghosts, Demons, Spectres and Murderers. To give a ghastly


hue to the faces of the actors, the best light is that produced
by some salt of soda, common salt being very good. We
have succeeded well in this way : A piece of wire gauze such
as ash-sifters are made of, and about a foot square, was sup-
ported at a height of about a foot from the floor, which was
protected by a sheet of iron. On the wire gauze were laid
twenty -five wads of cotton waste which had been soaked in n.
Solution of common salt, dried and dipped in alcohol jusfc
before being laid on the wire. When these were ignited we
had twenty -five powerful flames all tinged with sodium and
burning freely, as the air rose readily among them through
the wire grating. Such a flame produces quite a powerful
light and gives a death-like appearance to even the most
rosy-cheeked girl.

The following give a strong light and produce a most
ghastly effect:

1. Nitrate of soda, 10 ; chlorate of potash, 10 ; sulphide of
antimony, 3 ; shellac, 4. The materials must be warm and
dry, and as the nitrate of soda attracts moisture rapidly, it
must be well dried, then finely powdered as quickly as pos-
sible and kept in well-corked bottles. As this gives off a
good deal of sulphurous fumes, the following may be pre-
ferred Avllfcre the ventilation is not good :

2. Nitrate of soda, 10 ; chlorate of potassa, 15 ; white
sugar finely powdered, 5 ; lycopodium, 2.


In using chlorate of potassa the greatest care is necessary.
It may be powdered and otherwise handled safely whon.
alone, but when combustible matter of any kind is added to
it, the mixture becomes highly explosive and must be very
gently handled. It must therefore be powdered separately
and only mixed with the other ingredients after they liavo
been powdered. The mixing should be done on a large sheet
of paper, very gently, but very thoroughly, with a thin,
broad-bladed knife.

Mixtures of chlorate of potash with sulphur, sulphurets,
and especially phosphorous, are liable to explode spontane-
ously after a time, and should never be kept on hand. They
phould be made as wanted.

Flowers of sulphur are very liable to contain a trace of
sulphuric or sulphurous acid, which, acting upon chlorate of


potash causes spontaneous ignition. This may be obviated
by pouring a few drops of liquid ammonia on the sulphur,
mixing it up thoroughly and allowing it to stand for some
time. A safe way also is to use powdered roll brimstone
instead of flowers of sulphur.

Phosphorous Light. One of the most brilliant lights known
is produced by burning phosphorous in oxygen. The appa-
ratus usually employed for this purpose is bulky and expen-
sive, but the following is a very simple method of producing
a very intense light by the combustion of phosphorous :
Take an amount of nitre proportional to the desired intensity
and duration of the light required, dry it thoroughly, powder
it and pack it solidly in an earthen vessel, leaving a small
cup-like hollow in its upper surface. In this hollow place a
piece of phosphorous which has been carefully dried with
soft paper or rags and set it on fire. As the phosphorous
burns, the nitre melts, decomposes and furnishes it with pure
oxygen, and the resulting light is very brilliant.

NOTE. In handling phosphorous be very careful. Do not
touch it with the hands or nib it with the article used to
dry it, as it takes fire very easily, and the burns produced by
it are very severe. It should always be cut under water.

Photographic Light. A light of intense photographic
power is produced by burning bisulphide of carbon in an
argand lamp and passing a stream of nitric oxide through the
centre of the flame Nitric oxide is easily produced as
wanted by allowing nitric acid to act on scraps of copper.

The following specific dilutions will enable the reader to
produce this light in a less simple but more effective manner :
A quart bottle with a somewhat large mouth, has a cork
with two openings. Through one of these a tube passes to
near the bottom of the bottle ; through the second a large
tube packed with iron scale issues. Fragments of pumice
fill the bottle, and on these carbon disulphide is poured. A
current of nitric oxide gas, prepared by Deville's method
by the action of nitric and sulphuric acids on metallic iron
contained in a self-regulating reservoir is passed through
the bottle, where it takes up the vapor of the disulphide. It
is then led through the safety-tube, packed with iron-scale, to
a gas burner of the required capacity Excellent photo-
graphs have been taken in five seconds with this light, the
object being six feet distant. In photographic power the


light is asserted to be superior to the magnesium or calcium
light, and even to surpass the electric light itself. The
products of combustion are noxious and must be gotten
rid of.

Chatham Light This is a most intense flash-light used for
military signals. Three parts finely powdered resin are
mixed with one part magnesium dust, and blown by means
of a tube through the flame of a spirit lamp. The flame should
be large so as to insure the ignition of all the dust. The dis-
tance at which such a flame can be seen is extraordinary.

Some years ago the author devised a method of producing a
light of marvellous brilliancy by the use of magnesium
powder. A rude argand spirit lamp was constructed in such
a way that the central tube could be connected in an air-tight
fashion with a reservoir of oxygen. A small stopcock, with
the hole of the plug closed at one side so as to leave a cup
instead of a hole, was fitted into the tube leading from the
oxygen reservoir to the lamp. When turned upward this
cup was easily filled with magnesium powder, and when
turned down it of course dropped its charge into the stream
of oxygen, which carried it at once to the lamp, there to be
consumed in a flash of extraordinary brilliancy.

Looking GlaSS. (See Mirrors.)


In selecting a lubricator for any rubbing surfaces, care must
be taken to adapt the character of the lubricating material to
the nature of the rubbing surfaces and the weight which they
have to sustain. A fine, thin oil is useless for heavy bearings,
and a hard, stiff soap, which would be excellent for such
bearings, would be a poor article for a very light piece of
machinery. In the case of heavy bearings, such as railway
s-xles, when they once begin to heat and cut, it will be found
impossible to prevent heating by the mere application of oil.
The surfaces of the metal must be worked over either by
grinding or the turning tool. Thus, when journals heat at
sea, the usual custom is to use sulphur, black-lead, or water ;
but the relief they afford is only temporary. The following
is a method that gives permanent relief : When you find the
journals getting hot, slack back the nuts on the cap from
one-quarter to pne-third of a turn, and supply the jovtrnaj


freely with dust procured by rubbing two Bath bricks to-
gether, mixed in oil to a consistency a little thinner than
cream. After a short time begin cautiously to set up on the
nuts ; and before finally bringing the nuts to their original
position, give a copious supply of oil alone to wash out the
journal ; then bring the nuts into position, and you will have
no further trouble. This plan has also been tried on railway
journals, and it has been found that a handful of clay or
gravel has effected that which gallons of oil and Avater could
not do.

In addition to the usual oils and grease the following lu-
bricators deserve attention :

1. Plumbago. This material i&T gradually coming into use,
and when properly selected and applied it never fails to give
satisfactory results. It may be used on the heaviest planers
and ocean steamers, or on the lightest watchwork. When
applied to delicate machinery the surfaces should be very
lightly coated with the plumbago by means of a brush. In
this way all danger of grit is avoided. Plumbago seems to
be specially adapted to diminish the friction between porous
surfaces, such as wood and cast iron. Tor the cast iron bods
of heavy planers it is a specific.

2. Anti-Attrition. Mix 4 Ibs. tallow or soap with 1 Ib.
finely ground plumbago. The best lubricator for wood
working on wood. Excellent for wooden screws where great
power is required.

3. Fine Lubricating Oil Put fine olive oil in a bottle with
scrapings of lead and expose it to the sun for a few weeks.
Pour off the clear oil for use. Another method is to freeze
fine olive oil, strain out the liquid portion and preserve for use.

Booth's Axle Grease. Dissolve Ib. Avashing soda in 1
gallon Avater and add 3 Ibs. talloAv and 6 Ibs. palm oil. Heat
to 210" Fahr., and keep constantly stirring until cooled
to 00 or 70.


Marble is a compact carbonate of lime which varies in color,
some specimens being pure Avhite, others perfectly black,
while others are green, red, veined, mottled, etc. The famous
Mexican onyx, so-called, is also a carbonate of lime, and not-
withstanding its hardness and beauty is liable to injury
|he sajne causes that affect ordinary marble.


Marble is easily dissolved, with escape of carbonic acid
gas, by the mineral acids, sulphuric, nitric, hydrochloric,
etc., and it is also acted upon, though more slowly by vinegar,

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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 8 of 16)