This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. (Learn how and when to remove these template messages)
This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Bull polishing" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (December 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
This article possibly contains original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding inline citations. Statements consisting only of original research should be removed. (April 2011) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. No cleanup reason has been specified. Please help improve this article if you can. (April 2011) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
(Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Bull polished drill boots
Bulling, Bull polishing, spit polishing or spit shining is a term commonly used by soldiers and refers to a method for polishing leather products in such a way as to give an extremely high shine effect. The term 'Bulling' is a reference to any form of cleaning, shining, polishing or such that has no other practical application other than to present an image of exemplary turn out or cleanliness. The term 'Bulling' is an acknowledgment that this is an undertaking intended to 'Bullshit' the inspector of a cleaned item in regard to its normal state of presentation.
It is commonly used in the military as a traditional method of presenting leather accessories (such as a Sam Browne belt) and boots for inspection. The finished effect should leave the surface of the leather highly reflective, similar to a patent leather finish. It is not unusual for soldiers to maintain a separate and unique pair of boots intended only for use for inspection or very special ceremonial occasions.
Ultimately, the process involves polishing the applied thin layers of polish, not the leather itself. The process can be lengthy and is best learned and perfected with practice. Soldiers are highly competitive in producing the smoothest, shiniest and most durable finish possible normally to their 'Drill' or 'Parade' boots.
The down side to this method is that the slightest touch to the laminated layers of brittle dry polish could end up with them cracking or even shattering like glass or even the leather breaking up as the nourishment supplied by the oils in the polish never actually reach the leather.
There is great debate as to the best method for bull polishing, to a point where a lore may be said to exist. Among techniques advocated are melting the polish, the addition of cigar ash to the polish, and substituting coffee or aftershave for water or spit. However, the basic principles remain the same:
- Wear the item a few times to establish any natural creases that occur during use. This is particularly important if the leather has been "burnt down" with beeswax (a process that gives the leather a smoother finish).
- Polish the item in the normal way with a brush a few times to get a decent, regular polish. This is best achieved by applying a liberal amount of polish with one brush and using another brush to spread and smooth out the polish, as well as getting rid of any excess.
- Apply thin layers of polish to the item in small circular motions with a cloth (e.g. a yellow duster) until a dull, smooth shine appears.
- Polish the final layer of polish with the damp cloth or cotton wool until the desired shine appears.
- Use small amounts of water, keeping the shoe rag damp.
- Do not use too much polish. Using too much polish will cause it to take a long time to polish and not give a very good shine.