Monday, December 15, 2014

"Amalgamation" - The Workbench Glossary



[uh-mal-guh-mey-shuh n]

Amalgamation is a restorative procedure in which solvent is directly applied to a degraded film finish with the objective of reintegrating the separated fragments. This treatment is commonly performed on historic ‘spirit varnishes’ (such as shellac) where the finish is padded with an alcohol. The treatment can be effective at mitigating fissures or alligatoring while concurrently restoring optical saturation.

Macro photography of a fissured coating on oak substrate

Application of solvent with a pad

BEFORE - Alligatored Finish

AFTER - Finish Amalgamated


  1. Hi Joshua,

    It's Pete from Groop. In your "after" photo, is this finish repaired, or amalgamated enough to deliver to the client? Or do you do additional work to it? I understand client demands have something to do with the answer.

    1. Hi Pete,

      This is deliverable. The surface texture you are seeing is the tool marks from the artisan shaping the splat. The finish is baby's butt smooth over that. The key is to preserve patina.

  2. Good work. I had a similar piece early in my refinishing career, and wound up refinishing.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks rootertooter. I appreciate your feedback!