Full Chisel Blog

October 15, 2012

Testing Woolen fabric for French Polish Pad, Fad, or Rubber

Filed under: Alchemy,Finishing,Historical Material,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Techniques — Stephen Shepherd @ 8:58 am

I recently read of a traditional technique for preparing a rubber, pad, or fad for French polishing, and this technique differs from others I have researched.  I switched from cotton balls as a pad filler to raw washed wool, which I am very happy with how it works and lasts.

However this new method looked interesting, so I asked my favorite seamstress if she had some 100% woolen fabric that I could use?  She brought by enough for my specifications, but wider, so I could rip it to the desired size.  I thought that before I went ahead with French polishing, I should test the fabric to see if it would bleed any of the dye.

Sure enough after some alcohol and placed in a glass jar for an hour or so, then I took it out and placed it on a paper towel and you can see what happened.

I told the seamstress of the problem and she said she had some light brown herringbone wool fabric which she dropped off.  I did the same test and no bleeding, so I will use this next time I polish.

I will also post the new/old technique soon and see how well it works.



  1. Stephen,

    I have used washed carded wool for about 8 years now and wouldn’t consider going back to “cotton wool” again.

    It is cheap enough where I live here in Central Virginia and it does not take a whole lot to make several pads.

    I have found that it maintains its shape well and seems to give up the polish at a more even rate than cotton.

    The pads also last an extremely long time.


    Comment by Floss — October 15, 2012 @ 8:27 pm

  2. Years ago I took apart an old organ. The motor housing was insulated with thick (about 2″) wool felt. Thankfully that gave me a lifetime supply. I have found no better rubber stuffing (or filler) than the wool felt. the consistency and density is very even throughout the material which makes for very even flow. Additional benefits are that it holds a LOT of shellac and due to it’s stiffness, your pad retains its shape. I just use a knife to shape a gentle curve for the underside of the pad.

    Wool felt, can’t say enough good things about it!

    Comment by Guillaume Dery — October 24, 2012 @ 10:57 am

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