The following abstract is translated from the Nouveau Manuel Complet du Mouleur by Lebrun and Magnier (Paris, 1917, p. 275).
In 1823 a Parisian woodworker presented to the Societe d’encouragement
a specimen of furniture moulded from different coloured samples of sawdust made
into a paste with a tenacious glue. When the paste had hardened the piece of
furniture could be varnished. The Society received this discovery favourably
and the inventor was rewarded with a sum of money by the Government. The invention
was apparently abandoned soon after.
A few years later, M. Sabastian Lenormand put forward a method of obtaining ornaments in relief from sawdust. The mixture, composed of fish-glue, “Flanders” glue and powdered wood, was run into moulds while in a pasty condition. The mouldings, however, were crudely made and far from strong.
It was not until 1855 that MM. Lepage and Talrich had the idea of making moulded objects with sawdust and blood albumen, hut although the principle had been discovered, the industrial application remained unsuccessful.
M. Latry bought the Lepage and Talrich patent and it was only after new research, especially regarding the methods of working the material and the type of mechanism, that he was able to create the industry, which has been carried to such a high degree of perfection. We pass over those preliminary difficulties which faced M. Latry they were principally difficulties in the manner of heating and imperfection of moulds. Today, the process adopted is as follows:-
Wood flour, especially that made from rose-wood, is reduced to a fine powder and moistened with a quantity of blood mixed with water and dried in a stove at 50 to 60 degrees C. The moulding is made in rings containing polished steel matrices to reproduce with the greatest fidelity various artistic creations. The dried powder is piled into the moulds in such quantity that there is no excess on compression - that is, there is no flash. [the French word used here is rather amusing - bavure = slobbering.]
The pressure is obtained by means of a hydraulic press of
The plaques are gas-heated in such a manner that the heat is maintained constant during the entire operation.
The mould in their rings move in guides, so that no lateral movement is possible. During compression a stop fixes the distance traveled.
The heating plaques are each furnished with separate gas supply, which moves with the movement of the plaque, following the pressure given to the different rings. Each gas tube is ‘doubled’ - that is, provided with a concentric tube leading in cold air - The annular space between the two carries the gas.
The heating by gas is costly, hut is recompensed by the excellent results.