It’s easy to be skeptical about the polissoir. Could a bundle of broom corn radically change the way you finish some pieces of work?
All of us who worked on the translation of A.-J. Roubo’s “l’Art du Menuisier” were wary when we translated the section on the polissoir – literally “polisher.” So we were shocked to see how well it worked and now I have a beat-up one in my tool chest. I use it all the time.
What do I use it on? Smaller stuff, mostly. Polishing a dining table would be a lot of work. But polishing chair parts, small boxes and shop tools is quick, easy and effective. The burnishing effect of the polissoir appears permanent. I use a little bit of beeswax as a lubricant, but most of the lustre is from the hard broom corn compressing and polishing the wood fibers.
It’s a tactile finish as there is no plastic film between your skin and the wood – I particularly like it on turnings.
You can make your own polissoir – start with the handle of a whisk broom or a wok broom. Or support a hand craftsman and buy them from Don Williams via his site, The Barn on White Run. A broom-making neighbor of Don’s makes each one by hand. You can read more about the different kinds of polissoirs and find ordering information here.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. All of the gift guide entries (including last year’s) are here.