The Ten Books on Architecture, 7.2

Vitruvius  translated by Joseph Gwilt

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Of Tempering Lime for Stucco

2Having given the necessary directions in respect of pavement, we shall explain the method of stuccoing. This requires that the lime should be of the best quality, and tempered a long time before it is wanted for use; so that if any of it be not burnt enough, the length of time employed in slaking it may bring the whole mass to the same consistence. If the lime be not thoroughly slaked, but used fresh, it will when spread throw out blisters, from the crude particles it contains, which, in execution, break and destroy the smoothness of the stucco.

2When the slaking is properly conducted, and care taken in the preparation of the materials, a hatchet is used, similar to that with which timber is hewn, and the lime is to be chopped with it, as it lies in the heap. If the hatchet strikes upon lumps, the lime is not sufficiently slaked, and when the iron of the instrument is drawn out dry and clean, it shews that the lime is poor and weak; but if, when extracted, the iron exhibits a glutinous substance adhering to it, that not only indicates the richness and thorough slaking of the lime, but also shews that it has been well tempered. The scaffolding being then prepared, the compartments of the rooms are executed, except the ceilings be straight.

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