Monday, April 28, 2014

Jumping On The Band Wagon!

Well if its trendy then I am doing it. Ok thats how I feel after buying a polissoir. Heres the story. Last month I ran into "Je m'appelle Christoph" Schwarz at the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool event in Charleston. When it got slow Chris started handing out half made squares for everyone (including customers that were hanging around for hours) to finish making and take home.

It was kinda funny. A customer would pop in and there we all were, head down, completely focused on this rather than them. They seemed confused but interested in what kind of class we all were apparently taking. Questions followed such as; what are you making, what kind of wood is that? About that time we would snap out of it and go back to demonstrating whatever it was we were supposed to be doing.

Anyhow we were all finishing the squares with the polissoir. I was pretty impressed. Then when I got home I realized this would work really well on my planes. Wishing I had actually tried it out on a plane while at the show I decided anyways to buy one. What really motivated me was that Don Williams started offering one that would accommodate carved/shaped surfaces. I was sold.

Here is what the carver's polissoir looks like. One end is for complex surfaces and the other I use just like the standard one. It is sort of a two in one, though it doesn't appear to have been intended for that purpose, but why not?

Carver's Polissoir

This is what it looks like when it arrives. You have to soak the ends in some melted beeswax then once it dries it is ready to go. That is a one time process as far as I understand. The wax acts more like a lubricant rather than being meant as the applied finish. However I am sure it is getting rubbed into the surface to some extent.

Here is what the finished burnished surface looks like on the planes. By the way the finish I use on the planes is heated linseed/Danish oil.

I am pretty stoked about the results. My favorite thing about the finish is that it is so much more durable. I always kinda worry about leaving grim from my hands on the grips of the planes while I am tuning everything up just before they go out the door. But the polissoir burnishes the surface so hard that there seems to be no open wood pores to get grimy.

Here is a link to make one if you want to try it out or see the ones from Don's Barn.

I am going to give this a try out on a piece of Danish furniture soon. I can't wait to see how it works there.  

Additional Thoughts:  I often mention products or links to things or other folks. I do this not to promote anyone for any particular reason. First off I like to point out other good stuff that is going on out there besides just what I am doing. I think good stuff should get noticed. It benefits us all. 

I also like when someone is making a product that is useful and it employees an individual craftsman. For instance Don's polissoir is made by a broom maker not far from him. That was motivation for me to by one rather than make one. 

Thats it. I just don't want my posts to come across like I am selling something. My intent here has always been to just share good useful information to those that want to know more about woodworking crafts. 

Take care!


  1. Great post! Are you using the polisher and then applying your linseed/danish oil finish? I'm trying to figure out the best way to use the polisher myself. Thanks!

    1. I heat the Danish oil to about 140˚ and then apply it. I let it soak in and rub off any excess with a dry cloth after a few minutes. I like to let it dry overnight and then burnish it down with the polissoir. That has been my practice so far.

  2. that smoother looks amazing.. fantastic work