Contemporary finishes usually call for an eggshell, matt or semi-matt surface in preference to a choked-grain full gloss. Most lacquers are available either as full gloss (burnishing lacquers), matt or semi-matt finishes, the matt appearance being obtained by incorporating silex powder of other additives to scatter the light. These matt finishes do, of course, cloud the wood to some degree, and in fact all dulled surfaces cannot be expected to show the clarity of a high gloss which acts as both mirror and magnifying glass. The after-dulling of gloss surfaces for an egg-shell gloss effect can also be done with finest grade steel wool, which must be skilfully applied to be effective, or with french-polishers' pumice and petrol/gasoline. A handful of water-floated pumice powder (or fine silex powder) is stirred into a cupful of petrol and swabbed over the surface, keeping the mixture constantly agitated. Any degree of dulling can be achieved by using a special soft dulling brush kept exclusively for the purposes, and sweeping the brush backwards and forwards as in painting until the petrol has evaporated and only the dust remains. Silex powder need not be graded, but all powdered pumice should be water-floated by stirring it into a large bowl of water, allowing a little time for the larger grains to settle, and then decanting the liquid, letting it stand overnight and pouring off the clear water. The degree of fineness of the floated powder will depend on how long the coarser grains have been allowed to settle before decanting, and the process can be repeated several times if necessary.
Satisfactory egg-shell gloss surfaces can only be achieved by carrying out to a full gloss polish and then dulling, and there are no short cuts. The dulling of thin finishes with unfilled grain should not be attempted with the above method or the surface will show white deposits.
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