Reader Question: Norman Patton’s Formulas

Written by on January 3, 2014 in Ask the Topcoat Team!, Uncategorized with 4 Comments

In response to Scott’s December 2013 APC “From the Field” Column:

Reflecting Back and Looking Forward

Mike from Iowa asks:

Hi Scott

I just read you’re APC column “Reflecting Back and Looking Forward”.

After the letter by Norman Patton you mentioned he had attached a
formula for blacking and how to rub off a varnish run.

Are these old time secrets or can you share them. After forty years I
still like to learn “old time” stuff.


Scott Burt responds:

Hi Mike,

Thanks for writing. Yes, I’m happy to pass along Norman Patton’s knowledge.

Here is a photo in Norman’s writing, with transcription:

Norman Patton

Norman Patton formulas.

Bleaching Woods Where Water Stains Prevail:

  • Oxalic Acid – Crystal
  • Acetic Acid – Crystal
  • Dissolve in hot water
  • Where Stain is Deep Use in Paste Form
  • Leave overnight, rinse with vinegar
  • Let Dry and Sand

To Rub off a Varnish Run:

  • After the varnish is dry
  • Wet a cloth and wipe it over a piece of hard soap
  • then with dry pumice stone gently rub the run on fat edge
  • the soap will prevent the particles of pumice from sinking into the soft varnish

Mike, thanks for being interested in carrying on tradition.

If you, or any of our readers have the chance to try these, please leave comments below.




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4 Reader Comments

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  1. John Sellew says:

    Scott, this is very timely… A contractor asked me if I had any tricks for removing stains from a clients oak floor. It’s going to be sanded and finished soon. I thought I would give this formula a try. I would usually use the oxalic acid by itself. If I could find the acetix acid crystals that would help. Is there any reason why I can’t dilute oxalic acid powder with the vinegar? (Vinigar is acetic acid, is it not?)

    We will see what happens….


    • Scott Burt says:

      John, I agree it is a timeless and timely topic. I think any chance we have to tip our hats to the pros that came before us is awesome. I honestly can’t speculate on the chemistry of Norman’s formula or how we could transpose it to readily available resources these days, and that is exactly why I am hoping that any of us who dabble with it please report back here and share with the whole group. Please, keep us posted! Glad the article was helpful to you.

  2. Paul Peck says:

    Thanks for sharing this Scott!
    It’s neat to see how things used to be done by the true master painters.
    I might just have to try this one day,

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