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Monday, January 12, 2015

The Odyssey of the Traditional 18th Century Finish - It was a Lot of Work

After practicing the finishing technique that Tim Garland has suggested, I think I am ready to apply it to the actual dressing table.
The first step was to apply the potassium dichromate solution to the top and case.  You apply it in a warm solution with a rag and let it dry.

The top looks good when it is still wet but you can see in the middle that it is starting to dry and turn yellow.  It looks real ugly after it has dried.  Yellow and dusty.
I rub off the yellow dust with a white Scotch pad which is like 0000 steel wood.

Looks a lot better after it has been rubbed out.  Now it is ready for shellac.  I spray my shellac since I am terrible with a brush,  I will be using dewaxed dark garnet shellac in a 2lb cut.

 After applying 2 coats,it is starting to look pretty good.  I like the color.

I sand it back after each pass of 2 coats with 400 dry sand paper.

Here it is with 6 coats of shellac prior to sanding with the 400 sand paper.

Here it is after sanding.  Ready for the colored hard wax.

Just after rubbing out the hard wax finish.  It has a nice luster to it. Not too shiny and the grain is mostly filled.

Now I am rubbing out the carcass prior to waxing.

All rubbed out ready to attach the hardware.

 I did not like the color of the hardware, so I decided to polish it using brass cleaner.  It cleaned up real nice.  Not real shinny like when they have applied lacquer to it.

I have to adjust the bails so they hang correctly by filing one end.

All done.  I'll have to get some good pictures yet.  But for now I think I finished.  The finishing was more work than I expected.   But I think I learned something.

Here is today's video:


  1. David, what does the potassium dichromate do for the finish? Is it's use unique to the wood being used? Another question, is the hard wax being used to fill the pores as well as the shine?
    Thank you

    1. Boyce, pot. dichromate only reacts to certain woods. Mahogany, walnut, oak. Those woods which have tannin in them. It turns it brown depending on the concentrate of the solution. Hard wax is to fill the pores. First time I have tried it. It is hard work.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, i think next time i'll try your finishing process