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French Polishing WoodFixers

French Polishing 101

Discover the art of French polishing with our step-by-step guide

Welcome, fellow wood lovers! Here at WoodFixers, we’ve got a passion for restoration and polish that shines as brightly as the wood we work on. And, today, we’re going to focus on a time-honoured technique known as French polishing. So, grab your rubber (not that kind!), let’s dive into the wonderful world of French Polishing!

What is French Polishing?

French polishing is a classic wood finishing technique that brings out the stunning natural beauty of timber. A technique as old as the hills but still standing tall, French polishing uses a solution made of shellac dissolved in alcohol, meticulously applied with a rubbing pad.

The Materials You’ll Need

  • Shellac flakes
  • Denatured alcohol
  • A rubber (polishing pad)
  • Mineral or olive oil
  • Sandpaper
  • Cotton cloth

Prepping Your Wood

The first step in any good wood restoration project is preparing your surface. If you’re working with a piece that’s seen better days, you’ll need to carefully clean it, sand it, and remove any existing finish before you begin.

Creating Your French Polishing Solution

Making your own French polish solution is surprisingly easy. Simply dissolve your shellac flakes in the denatured alcohol, using about a 2:1 ratio of alcohol to flakes. It will take some time for the flakes to fully dissolve, so make this well in advance of when you plan to start polishing.

Applying the French Polish

With your rubber at the ready, it’s time to apply your French polish. Starting in one corner of your piece, apply the solution using small, circular motions. The trick to a beautiful French polish is patience and layers. You’ll want to apply many thin layers, letting each one dry in between, to get that gorgeous, glass-like finish.

Caring for Your French Polished Piece

Once your piece is polished to perfection, remember to keep it out of direct sunlight, which can damage the finish. Use a soft, dry cloth for dusting — no commercial cleaners needed!


And there you have it, folks: the wonderful world of French polishing in a nutshell. It’s a technique that requires patience, but boy, is it worth it. The stunning sheen, the way it makes the grain pop — nothing else quite compares. So give it a go, and remember: the team at WoodFixers is always here to help with your wood restoration and repair needs!

Stay tuned for more tips and tricks from your friends at WoodFixers.