French Polishing

French Polishing

French polishing is a timber finishing technique that consists of applying many thin coats of shellac dissolved in alcohol that results in a high gloss decorative finish.

 

Shellac is the purified secretion of the lac beetle which can be found in India and Thailand.

 

The shellac is applied in short strokes with a fad, which is a piece of absorbent cotton or wool cloth wadding, wrapped in another piece of soft cotton cloth. The 'fad' is commonly lubricated with various oils which help to prevent lifting previously applied layers of shellac. Different oils produce slightly different finishes according to the customers’ requirements.

 

The finish is considered to be one of the best ways to display the grain of decorative timbers and although the finish softer than modern varnishes and lacquers, the shellac finish is fairly simple to repair if scratched or scuffed.