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French Polishing WoodFixers

French Polishing vs. Other Finishes

Explore the differences and similarities between French polishing and other finishing techniques.

Hi there, timber aficionados! At WoodFixers, we believe in the power of choice. Different wood finishing techniques can lead to diverse and stunning outcomes, each with its own character. Today, we’re looking at how French polishing stacks up against other popular finishes such as varnishing and lacquering. Ready to get a bit technical? Let’s dive in!

French Polishing: The Timeless Classic

As we’ve explored in our previous posts, French polishing is a technique that involves applying many thin layers of shellac using a rubbing pad, resulting in a high-gloss finish that accentuates the wood’s natural grain and colour. It’s a labor-intensive process, but the end result is truly one-of-a-kind. It’s especially great for antiques and fine furniture.

Varnishing: The Hardy Protector

Varnish is a blend of resin, drying oil, and solvents that hardens upon exposure to air. It creates a durable finish that’s resistant to heat, chemicals, and water — making it ideal for items that need to withstand wear and tear. However, it can obscure the wood’s grain and isn’t as easy to repair as a French polish.

Lacquering: The Quick and Shiny

Lacquer, typically acrylic or nitrocellulose, dries fast and provides a hard, shiny finish. It’s great for projects that require a quick turnaround, but it doesn’t penetrate the wood like French polish or varnish. Lacquer finishes can also chip or crack over time and may yellow with age.

French Polishing vs. Varnishing vs. Lacquering

Each of these techniques has its place in the woodworking world. French polishing offers a unique, rich finish that truly showcases the wood, but it requires a lot of skill and time. Varnishing is great for functional pieces that need protection from the elements, while lacquering offers a quick, shiny finish.


Choosing the right finish depends on the type of wood, the use of the item, and the look you’re going for. Whether it’s the classic elegance of French polishing, the hard-wearing durability of varnish, or the speedy shine of lacquer, each finish has its unique charm.

Remember, at WoodFixers, we’re here to help you make your wooden pieces shine their brightest, no matter the finish. Explore our services to find the right fit for your needs.

Join us again as we uncover more secrets of the woodworking world with WoodFixers.