Making a Case for Varnish
The most beautiful and durable finish for fine furniture is applied with a brush
Synopsis: Frank Pollaro wanted to give a complex piece he’d just completed a more protective finish than French polishing affords. Using the technique he explains here, you can brush on varnish and get a deep, clear and brilliant finish that looks sprayed-on. He introduces the article with information about varnish and how to select a good brush. Then he gets into the details of brushing it on. He rubs out and polishes the finish, and he shares information on what types of sandpaper and wetting agents he uses. A side explanation addresses how to fill porous, open-grained woods.
I’d just finished the most complex piece I had ever attempted, the reproduction of a desk by Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, the greatest of the Art Deco furniture designers. The curvaceous desk, veneered in amboyna burl and shagreen, or sting-ray skin, had taken me more than 300 hours to complete. The original had…