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Art Deco / 1930s Furniture Finish?

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machineage

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Hi everyone...

Simplish question - I wondered what would have been the finish applied to most of the veneered furniture mass produced during the 1930s - specifically Art Deco style pieces? Would it have been spray cellulose?

What would be the current equivalent nowadays - lacquer?

Thanks!
 

Sgian Dubh

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Most likely, if it was mass produced and therfore possibly sprayed, it would have been a nitro-cellulose lacquer. It may also have been shellac applied with either a spray gun and rubbed to an appropriate sheen, or perhaps as an alternative, applied using a mix of brush for the first few coats followed by a few rubbers of French polish.

Equivalent today would be the same, shellac and nitrocellulose lacquer. It's getting harder to find nitrocellulose lacquer, but Fiddes is one supplier. I suppose a contemporary finish that has some similar characteristics would be pre-catalysed lacquer-- I hesitate to put nitrocellulose and pre-cat in the same bracket really as their application methods, curing characteristics, and performance in service are quite different in significant respects. Slainte.
 

SeanJ

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The good thing about nitro cellulose is that it burns itself into each successive layer with it's solvent, this is great if your going for a full grain gloss finish to burnish as you won't be left with 'halos' - which is where the previous layer is revealed when you cut back prior to polishing with compound, this is a pain with AC lacquer as the cross linking cures it, and of course you can't burnish a precat if you want high gloss, so it wins out in that respect though it's less resistant to heat/water i believe.

Sean
 

houtslager

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Bar top lacquer is still available in the UK, Fiddes and also the Tottenham mob have,[ forgotten the name ] plus you can bring it up to a super gloss finish with a drop or too of pull over.

hth

K
 

mrpercysnodgrass

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Art Deco furniture was French polished by hand, although spray polishing was being used in America it was not used here until the early 1950s. The polisher that I did my apprenticeship under worked in and around Bethnal Green and Hackney (which was the centre for furniture manufacture in London) from the 1930s through to the 1960s, he started working on Art Deco furniture when he was an apprentice. He told me a story of when he went off to do his National Service in 1950 to fight the Maw Maw. Just before he left he had heard of some workshops using this new spray polishing but had not seen it being done. When he came back from Kenya in 1952 he said there were hardly any workshops doing hand polishing, they had all gone over to spraying and he had to have a crash course in how to do it. As an aside, they had no extraction equipment but were given a pint of milk each per day to protect their lungs!
As to your second question, the "current equivalent nowadays" well it is still French Polishing!
Regards,

mrpercysnodgrass.
 

CHJ

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Although my Father used shellac and French polish on the items he made all their mass produced furniture purchased in the 1930's in Birmingham (UK) was cellulose spray finished as far as I can determine, at least the remnants I have are not meths solvent and have a very thin, brittle, high gloss finish.
 

tomatwark

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When I started my apprenticeship in the 1980's the guys who worked in the polishing shop were still given a pint of milk a day.

We did have a spray booth.

Tom
 

MIGNAL

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CHJ":qb0loyjk said:
Although my Father used shellac and French polish on the items he made all their mass produced furniture purchased in the 1930's in Birmingham (UK) was cellulose spray finished as far as I can determine, at least the remnants I have are not meths solvent and have a very thin, brittle, high gloss finish.
Unfortunately that test cannot be used to determine whether a finish is Shellac/french polished. Over a long period of time (usually decades) certain Shellac finishes (certainly not all) can become insoluble to the usual solvent of alcohol.
 
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