Originally Posted by well-kept
DWF > re Windsor chairs, I love them and have a collection of over fifty, all Eighteenth Century American. The quality of their construction, and the respect the craftsmen had for their raw materials, give each of the chairs a life, evident after more than two hundred years. As goes without saying, they were made by hand, and as to their surface finishing I believe they used sharkskin as an abrasive.
Interesting. I can see how that would be possible.
That said, and by way of indicating that mine was not a throw-away remark...I turned wood for some years and became fascinated by wood and woodworking, although never to the point of real expertise much less "mastery."
But I was particularly drawn to a documentary done by Public Broadcasting which interviewed a woodworker from the Smithsonian or Colonial Williamsburg or somewhere like that.
These institutions need to know how artifacts were originally constructed, not only for archival purposes but to restore them properly.
The gentleman being interviewed declared unequivocally that Windsor chairs were made without any resort to sandpaper (sandpaper leaves grit behind) and that scrapers were the tool of choice.
I understand, however, that some agents such as pumice and dried grasses (horsetail?)...and probably shark skin, as well...were used to polish, if not actually reduce, the final surface of the wood.
Now all that may be apocryphal and it's unquestionably hearsay in this context. But scrapers, in one form or another, did, and still do, play a dominant role in the making of a high quality bespoke shoe (many makers deliberately eschew sandpaper insofar as it is possible) and they remain a critical tool in fine woodworking.edited for punctuation and clarityEdited by DWFII - 8/30/16 at 5:45am