French Polishing

The services we offer range from touching up damaged woodwork to re-polishing of jaded surfaces

French Polishing for Furniture

French Polishing is the name given to the process of coating wood with a solution of shellac dissolved in alcohol, using a “rubber” made of rag and cotton wool instead of with a brush. The alcohol evaporates, leaving the shellac deposited upon the wood. When applied correctly it produces what is possibly the finest looking finish for the furniture.

Shellac was first introduced into Europe about the 16th Century, but the term FRENCH POLISH was not used until about 1820, when the process was developed by a French cabinet maker.

furniture french polishing
french polish conservation

Conservation of French Polish

  • Table or other furniture finishes that are damaged should be conserved to appear original, conserving the patina
  • French Polishing should match original for furniture of the period. High-style French Empire or Rococo pieces will have a mirror polish, much glossier and perfect than is appropriate for most English George I, George II, or George III furniture
  • Dark rings from water-related bacterial discoloration should be removed as non-invasively as possible, chemically bleaching, without altering the adjacent wood, or requiring sanding which would destroy the original patina that is present when the dark ring is removed