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Correct use of rottenstone or pumice

Avermeylen's picture

Good morning All,

I'm back for seconds, thanks for the help with my varnish over shellac question.

I'm very curious about the use of rottenstone as a final finishing medium, having read about it in FWW.

I was recently given a couple of ounces of the stuff, and the agent who gave it to me couldn't explain anything about it. He just said he'd had it in his store about ten years and I was the first person who asked about it so he gave it to me.

What are the basic ground rules?

What can/should the surface be ? Varnish, shellac, bare wood, etc?

How is it used? in what quantities, etc. I imagine it's a matter of creating a type of fine paste, and then working this over the surface, for how long, when do you know you've achieved the result?

As always, all advice appreciated.  


Allan - North Narrabeen, NSW, Australia

Edited 4/27/2004 7:15 pm ET by Allan

Allan - North Narrabeen, NSW, Australia
RMillard's picture

(post #108117, reply #1 of 3)

I use rottenstone on varnished surfaces, to bring up a high sheen. I find that it is not helpful on shellac, and my experience with polyurethane and lacquer are so limited I can't give any advise, other than to say I'd think it would work nicely. I use 4F pumice on Shellac, applying it with a backed pad of 4/0 steel wool, using mineral oil as a lubricant. The lubricant is important to eliminate the hazy look of rubbing compounds when used dry. I also use mineral oil with rottenstone, using a felt block to apply it. With varnish and other water proof finishes, you can use soapy water as a lubricant. The water will cut faster than the oil, but the oil seems to produce a better sheen. With both the pumice and rottenstone, apply the lubricant to the surface and dust on a sparing coat of the abrasive ( you'll quickly learn how much to apply, but too little is better than too much) Then rub using long straight overlapping strokes, going with the grain. Because of the natural tendency to lighten up at the ends of the strokes, I first go around and do the ends using short strokes, and then go on to the long straight strokes from end to end. It is not possible to say how long to rub, just periodically wipe the surface clean to check your progress, using racking light to get a good look . If you use oil as a lubricant, it can be cleaned from the surface with warm soapy water ( even on shellac). For carvings I use rottenstone or pumice, and apply it with a shoe shine brush. This will knock off the shine in the detailed areas, with little risk of cutting through the finish. Neither the rottenstone or pumice are for use on raw wood.

Rob Millard

Avermeylen's picture

(post #108117, reply #2 of 3)

Sheen - Shine

Perhaps you could clear this up for me. When brushing on hi-gloss varnish I get a mirror shine. Is a sheen different? Will it last longer. For example, a table in regular use, witha hi-gloss finish will lose the gloss within a year, let's say.

Will a rottenstone induced sheen have a slightly lower shine but last longer, or is it a semi-gloss type shine?

Thanks for your input so far. I sometimes think I'm working in the dark.





Allan - North Narrabeen, NSW, Australia
Allan - North Narrabeen, NSW, Australia
jazzdogg's picture

(post #108117, reply #3 of 3)


You might find the attached website interesting as it covers numerous finishing articles, including one by Jeff Jewett that discusses the rubbing-out process fairly extensively:

<P><EM><FONT color=red>-Jazzdogg-</FONT></EM></P>
<P><EM><FONT color=darkblue>Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right.</FONT></EM></P>

Edited 4/29/2004 6:23 pm ET by jazzdogg


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