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.