A Guide to French Polishing
Flawless Upholstery • Jul 07, 2020
If you’ve bought or inherited a piece of antique wooden furniture then the chances are that it’s been treated using a technique known as French polishing. Wooden furniture can require a little more TLC compared to other materials, especially if the piece is several hundred years old and French polishing is one of the most common ways to finish and restore wood. If you’ve recently inherited a piece of wooden furniture or bought something second hand that could do with a spruce up, read on to find out how French polishing can help.

What is French polishing?
French polishing is a wood finishing technique that gives a high gloss finish and deep, rich colour. The technique involves applying many thin layers of shellac dissolved in denatured alcohol. The mixture is then applied using a rubbing pad lubricated with oil to help the lacquer glide on smoothly.

The wood is usually prepared beforehand by stripping away any old varnish and filling in gaps in the woodgrain to give a smooth surface. A large number of layers are applied (usually over 100) and the surface is buffed and left to dry after every four to five layers applied.

The benefits
French polishing gives a beautiful finish to wooden furniture, but there are many other benefits too. It’s one of the most effective ways of restoring antique furniture and the sought after mirror shine enhances the quality and appearance of any wooden piece.

French polishing is a technique that’s over 500 years old, but many believe that it’s unrivalled by modern techniques. Shellac is a naturally occurring resin and it’s non toxic, so you won’t have to worry about harmful fumes or damage to the environment. The process itself also produces very little mess or dust, so you don’t have to worry about moving furniture around or protecting other nearby items.

Shellac is also very easy to repair and maintain, so it’s easier to fix any marks or scratches once the French polish has been applied. The finished result is also very durable as such a large number of thin layers are applied. The alcohol solvent melts each hardened top layer very slightly; this allows the new layer to bond itself to the previous one, creating a highly durable finish.

If you’re looking for the highest quality furniture restoration in Edinburgh, get in touch with the experts at Flawless Upholstery. We’re proud to offer professional French polishing to restore your wooden furniture and leave it looking good as new. We pride ourselves on our in-depth product knowledge and are more than happy to explain any of our techniques and how they can benefit your wood. For more information about our French polishing and furniture restoration services, give us a call today or visit our website.
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