Frequently deemed to be the most prestigious and appealing of all the very clear finishes, french polish is the most effective looking, but in a lot of ways the minimum practical. Its depth and brilliance are unequalled by varnishes or lacquers, simply because the floor it forms is really wafer-thin, and provides grain pattern and colour a certain clarity, practically a transparency.

The French Martin brothers produced a polish centered on shellac in the eighteenth century, a variation of which was currently being utilised in England for pianos by 1815. By the late nineteenth century it experienced come to be the most well-liked cure for higher-high quality home furniture and joinery, specifically mahogany. This timber however looks lovely french polished, but other woods (although not extensive-pored oak) can be addressed similarly efficiently.

French polish is resistant to neither warmth nor liquids, and is notably susceptible to alcohol, so desk tops are typically waxed to relieve upkeep. This is not to say that the complete simply cannot be repaired at all but rewaxing is a fantastic offer less difficult and a lot quicker.

There is a selected mystique about sharpening, probably simply because application with a rubber is an included process, and recognizing the stage it has arrived at calls for knowledge. The moment you have developed a ‘feel’ for the rubber, on the other hand, you will uncover that it is a fantastic deal simpler than generations of craftsmen would have us feel. Carrying out it is definitely the only way to understand.

If you are ending a new piece there is very tiny to be claimed for french polishing it, if it will be getting common residence use. But you will come across it on antique, aged or replica furniture and will have to have to know how to apply it when you are refinishing.

French polish is notably reactive to moist white blotches will appear in the end if you use it in & humid environment, and it will not harden if the temperature in your workspace is fewer than 15°C (60°F). If situations are poor and you nonetheless have to french polish, take care of up a non-flammable heater above the area, or heat it in excess of with an iron on prime of a blanket. This can also remove moist patches in the wood fibres.


The essential elements of french polish are shellac and methylated spirits (wooden alcohol). The secretions from the lac insect, located in India, Africa and the Significantly East, have been initially used for purple dye when commercial chemistry has evolved superior and much less expensive colouring agents, there is nevertheless no synthetic equal of lac for french polish. The fluids secreted from the larvae encrust the twigs of infested trees the ‘stick lac’ formed like this is harvested, pounded, melted, refined and filtered through ‘seed’ and ‘lump’ levels to make wafer-skinny sheets. These sheets are then flaked and exported as shellac.

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