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French Polishing WoodFixers

The History of French Polishing: A Journey Through Time with WoodFixers

Discover the origins and historical significance of this classic wood finishing French Polishing.

Welcome back, fellow timber enthusiasts! Here at WoodFixers, we do more than just repair and restore; we revel in the rich tapestry of woodworking history. Today, we invite you on a journey through time to explore the history of the cherished technique of French polishing. So, don your historian’s hat, and let’s delve into the past!

The Birth of French Polishing

French polishing, despite its name, is believed to have its origins in the far east, used by artisans to bring out the natural beauty of wood in musical instruments and fine furniture. However, it was not until the 18th century, during the Victorian era, that the technique really took off in Europe.

Victorian-era Love Affair

Victorian furniture makers fell head over heels for French polishing. The glossy finish, the deep rich tones it lent to mahogany, and the unparalleled elegance it conferred, made it the finish du jour. It became synonymous with high-end furniture and was a common sight in affluent Victorian homes.

How French Polishing Revolutionised the Furniture Industry

French polishing did more than just make furniture look good; it revolutionised the industry. It offered a relatively quick and easy way to create a stunning finish that protected the wood. The technique spread rapidly, and French polished furniture became a coveted luxury.

The Decline and Resurgence

With the advent of modern, synthetic finishes in the 20th century, French polishing saw a decline in popularity. These new finishes offered a harder, more durable surface and were easier to apply. However, in recent years, French polishing has seen a resurgence, as more and more people come to appreciate the unique, warm glow and depth of colour it imparts to wood.

The Legacy of French Polishing

Today, French polishing is a beloved technique used by professional restorers and DIY enthusiasts alike. It continues to be the finish of choice for restoration projects and fine furniture, and holds a special place in the hearts of woodworkers around the globe.


From its humble beginnings in the far east to its rise and fall in popularity over the centuries, the history of French polishing is a testament to the enduring allure of this exceptional technique. Whether you’re restoring an antique or simply want to bring out the beauty in a piece of timber, French polishing is a skill that stands the test of time.

For all your French polishing needs, remember that WoodFixers is here to help. We’re proud to continue this historical tradition in our modern restoration practices.

Join us next time as we explore more fascinating aspects of wood restoration and repair with WoodFixers.