Definitions

rotten-stone

Rotten stone

[rot-n-stohn]
Rotten stone, sometimes spelled as one word, and also known as tripoli, is fine powdered rock used as a polishing abrasive in woodworking. It is usually weathered limestone mixed with diatomaceous, amorphous, or crystalline silica. It has similar applications to pumice, but it is generally sold as a finer powder and used for a more glossy polish after an initial treatment with coarser pumice powder.

It is usually mixed with oil, sometimes water, and rubbed on the surface of varnished or lacquered wood with a felt pad or cloth. Rotten stone is sometimes used to buff stains out of wood. Some polishing waxes contain powdered rotten stone in a paste substrate. For larger polishing jobs, rotten stone mixed with a binder is applied to polishing wheels.

It has also been used to polish brass, such as that found on military uniforms, as well as steel and other metals. Plates used in daguerreotypes were polished using rotten stone, the finest abrasive available at the time.

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