The polissoir, French for polisher, is a simple tool to make and use. I was first introduced to this finishing tool thru a Chris Schwarz blog entry. Chris was introduced to the tool by Don Williams who was working on a translation of Roubo. A.J. Roubo described its construction and use in his “L’Art du Menuisier”. There is also a video of Don using the polissoir.
Essentially it’s just a fist full of broomcorn tightly bound and it’s ends soaked in molten bees wax. After the wax cools it is then rubbed on the wood surface to burnish the wood and to drive additional wax into the pores of the wood. The resultant finish is glass smooth and has a very lovely sheen once buffed with a soft cloth. Its a fairly quick finishing process and requires no chemical solvents. That last bit is most important to me and my small home workshop.
I drew up a set of instructions to help you in making your own polissoir from an old broom and a few bits of string. The bonus is that you will learn a few knots along the way. I hope that you will at least give it a try and add this simple and effective tool to your finishing kit.
A very good blog Greg. I appreciate the knowledge that you pass along and the drawings as well. I’ve downloaded several of them and put them in my journal. Keep up the good work. 🙂
Thanks so much Sandy. I’m glad that you are liking the blog. You have no idea what it means to me that you enjoy and value my drawings.
Pingback: Build Yourself a Straight Edge | GREG MERRITT – BY MY OWN HANDS
THANKS Greg!!! Learning about the constrictor knot led me to replace the ugly, uncomfortable, wire ties on my own homemade polissoir. Now, I have one that’s much more inviting to use.
That’s great Bob. Glad you found it useful.
Pingback: Build Yourself a Fid | GREG MERRITT – BY MY OWN HANDS
Pingback: End Tables Part 1 | GREG MERRITT – BY MY OWN HANDS
Pingback: The Constrictor Knot | GREG MERRITT – BY MY OWN HANDS
Pingback: End Tables Part 12 | GREG MERRITT – BY MY OWN HANDS
Pingback: End Tables Part 13 – Done! | GREG MERRITT – BY MY OWN HANDS
Pingback: HB Tansu Progress-5 | GREG MERRITT – BY MY OWN HANDS
I just made one using your instructions. thank you! I need to get some wax for the ends, but I just tried it out and even without the wax I’m getting good results. Amazing how effective this is.
That’s awesome! Lots of people have viewed those instructions. It’s nice to know that someone has built one. I’m glad to hear that you found the instructions useful. The polissoir is handy and its amazing how well it works. Thanks for the note.
Pingback: At the Alters of Flat, Smooth and Texture | GREG MERRITT – BY MY OWN HANDS
I must be the worlds worst knot tie-er. The constrictor knot is as far as I could get. Oh well – I guess that’s the important one!
The turks head knot can be a bit tricky at first. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll never forget how to make it.
Thanks for the instructions, actually more like the inspiration, to get going on building my own polissoir. I didn’t have any tarred cord, so I used what I had on hand instead: some wire and a fancy thingy that I got from LV years ago. Worked like a charm.
I still can’t get over the look and ease of the wax only finish. I did a test piece using BLO first before the wax thinking it’d give more depth, but when I did the other face using only wax- I couldn’t tell a difference! So out goes BLO! I’m a convert.
Thanks Jonathan. Good to hear that you found the post useful.
It really is amazing how such a simple tool can create such a beautiful finish.
Awesome illustrating work by the way…puts my little doodles to shame.
Pingback: Tenugui Hanger Revisit | BY MY OWN HANDS
Where would a person get tarred nylon cord?
Marine supply or fishing supply stores usually stock it. Any stout cord will work though. Tarred nylon is just my preferred cordage.
Thanks. Since the method puts some pressure on the wood, is it better, if using this method, to do the finishing before assembly rather than after (so as not to loosen the piece up)?
Yes, it is best to pre finish as much as you can before assembly. The pressure isn’t the issue, access is.
I made one of these today, like others, the Turks Head Knot! Big fail. I will have to make a few more, I am more interested in the use of this style of burnisher for enhancing grain rather than waxing per se.
Hi Tony. Uzukuri is what you are after. Search my site for “uzukuri” and will find a lot of posts and info. After that, let know if you have any questions.
Great diagrams, thanks for sharing!