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French Polishing WoodFixers

French Polishing Vocab: What is ‘Ringing’?

Learn about 'ringing' or 'whorling' in the French polishing process.

Hello, woodcare warriors! Today at WoodFixers, we’re shedding light on a fascinating aspect of French polishing – ‘ringing’, or as it’s sometimes called, ‘whorling’. So, let’s uncover the mystery behind these mesmerising patterns.

What is ‘Ringing’?

‘Ringing’ refers to the circular patterns or depth effects that appear on a French polished surface when light shines on it. These patterns are a testament to the skilful application of the polish, adding depth and character to the piece.

How is ‘Ringing’ Achieved?

‘Ringing’ is achieved during the process known as ‘spiriting off’, the final phase of French polishing. Here, the rubber, charged with a mixture of alcohol and a tiny amount of shellac, is moved in circular motions. This motion, combined with the refractive properties of shellac, gives rise to these beautiful rings or whirls.

Appreciating the Art

The appearance of ‘ringing’ is one of the distinguishing characteristics of a fine French polish. It adds a depth and three-dimensionality to the finish that’s hard to achieve with any other method. Each piece has a unique ‘fingerprint’ that adds to its charm and value.


The art of ‘ringing’ is a fascinating aspect of French polishing, giving your wooden pieces a unique and stunning finish. The next time you admire a French polished piece, see if you can spot this enchanting effect!

At WoodFixers, we’re passionate about the beauty of wood and the magic of French polishing. If you’d like to learn more or need our services, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Stay tuned for more interesting tidbits and guides from your trusted team at WoodFixers!