Perfection! 

A small two tone Baker microscope appeared on eBay some years ago and I was quite taken with its beauty so when I happened across a very badly damaged Baker in need of re-lacquering I decided to recreate the two tone look.

This little chap has been something of an experimental piece as I have tested various brown and orange lacquers out on it. I am finally happy with it. I just have two small pieces drying and I can reassemble it properly. The slideshow below shows the microscope before and after restoration.

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My workshop

Today I have been tidying my workshop, it might look a bit of a mess still but I have removed a whole car-boot load of old boxes, used nitrile gloves and bits of emery paper today. The room is looking much tidier even if the worktops themselves still need some work. I shall finish tidying tomorrow – I need to use the milling machine so there is no escape!

workshop

I am still not entirely happy with the little Baker microscope in the foreground of the picture, the brown lacquer comes out far too dark after it has been heated. I am making a new, much paler batch at this moment.  I want a muted earthy tone – not dark chocolate. I should have pictures to post at the weekend.

Different lacquer colours

By varying the amounts of various ingredients, such as Dragon’s Blood, various lacquer colours can be achieved. Below is a picture showing three different batches of lacquer I have made applied to microscope parts.

I am about to make up a fresh batch of yellow as I have a piece to lacquer for a customer, I have some leftover yellow lacquer but I don’t want to risk using it. The lacquer ingredients are dissolved in pure ethanol, over time the ethanol takes up water and water is death to lacquer. Any water in your lacquer and you will get cloudiness and a nasty finish. It’s less trouble to make up fresh.

lacquer colours

Yellow, brown and gold lacquer

 

The lacquering line

Lacquer drying

Not something you see every day -my lacquering washing line. It’s important not to touch the lacquer after it is applied. It needs to dry for several days before being cooked. This re-purposed Ikea wardrobe makes a fine drying cupboard. The wardrobe doors are a good cat deterrent too. Nothing worse than cat hair in the lacquer. I wonder how Victorian microscope makers kept their cats at bay?

I use stiff flexible lubricant hosing and crocodile clips to hold the work while I lacquer it. Once lacquering is complete I can bend the hose and hang it up in the wardrobe. Wire also works but the piece being lacquered can sometimes flop around too much, also wire is not unsuitable for tiny pieces like screws. 

Brown lacquer

Today, I have been working with an unusual brown lacquer. Brown lacquers were not used a great deal, but it is good to have finally perfected one for those rare occasions when a brown lacquer is called for.  The lacquer uses garnet shellac and is somewhat more tricky to apply than any of my yellow or gold lacquers. It is a fairly muted brown and needs to be applied in a slightly thicker layer than usual. Also, it is a damp, cold, dull day and lacquers are much easier to apply when there is bright light and low humidity.

It’s looking good, I am eager to see what it looks like once it has dried and has been cooked.

garnet shellac lacquer

Brown lacquer applied to microscope limb