Artisans revive the polissoir, a nearly-forgotten woodworking tool

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I love the quintessentially “old craftsman” style of humor of saying something completely deadpan while doing the exact opposite.


Pretty sure my granddad used something like this. He was trained as a piano maker and used to work a lot with wood in his spare time too, and after he retired. Still got marquetry he made.


They use them in Japan too. They are called Uzukuri.


They use a technique known as french polish on some pianos. There is a similar tool that is used that is a tightly rolled cloth. Similar form different materials. Of course it may well have been a polliseur.

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So, great for gently raising grain while polishing it?

These would probably work wonders on woods with vast difference in grain hardness like Wenge…


French polish is a technique for applying thin coats of shellac. The reason the application pad is so tight (I use cheesecloth drawn tight around a balled-up rag) is to make the application thin and even. The polishing comes from added abrasives, like pumice.

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Horsetail was also bundled and used in a similar manner to polish wood, bone, metal, and stone. It has a very high silica content and apparently gives a very smooth finish.

In Japan the horsetail is opened out, the rear (inside) scraped away and then it is pasted onto a piece of wood and used like sandpaper.
You can see it done in the photographs that go with this article (in Japanese unfortunately)

glad to see burnishing getting some new respect.

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