French Polishing

French polishing is a wood finishing technique that results in a very high gloss surface, with a deep colour. French polishing consists of applying many thin coats of shellac dissolved in denatured alcohol using a rubbing pad lubricated with one of a variety of oils (see below). The rubbing pad is made of absorbent cotton or wool cloth wadding inside of a piece of fabric (usually soft cotton cloth). 

French polish is a process, not a material. The main material is shellac, although there are several other shellac-based finishes, not all of which class as French polishing. The finish is considered by many to be among the most beautiful ways to finish highly figured wood, but it is also recognised to be fragile. It is softer than modern varnishes and lacquers and is particularly sensitive to spills of water or alcohol, and it’s easily damaged by heat, all of  which may produce white cloudy marks.

Our craftsmen are able to repair traditional French polish when required, but very often we steer the customer towards modern more durable finishes which look just as pleasing when properly applied, and are much less susceptible to damage.

Please phone for a no obligation quotation  01952 740782