French Polishing

What is French polishing?

Simply stated, French polishing is the process of applying a lacquer based finish by hand with the use of a lint free cloth.


Why is it called French polishing?
  • In the late 18th & early 19th centuries furniture polishing was commonly practiced with the use of beeswax and linseed oil.
  • The early methods served the simple purpose of sealing the wood however they did not produce an attractive result.
    Many experiments in finishing methods followed throughout the years in an attempt to develop a satisfactory result.
  • Although the exact method of applying a finish to furniture in those early years was varied amongst the cabinet-makers, it has generally been accepted that the process of mixing gum, alcohol & shellac flakes developed by French Cabinet-makers produced the best results and thus the art of French Polishing was born.
  • The term “polishing” can be mis-leading as to imply that the process is to simply buff or polish an existing finish. While that in many instances be the case, the actual process involved with a proper French polish is to apply new lacquer finish over the prior surface. The preparation of the surface it-self depends on the actual needs of the piece in question.
  • We have dedicated over 20 years to the art of French polishing.
    We follow traditional methods to produce the finest French polished finishes.
  • We mix many of our our custom finishes using only the finest shellac flakes & solvents available. 
    This process provides the most brilliant luster to antique furniture possible.
    It is also possible to French polish modern re-productions or furnishings to give them the hand rubbed look that is just not possible with a modern sprayed pre-catalyzed nitrocellulose lacquer finish.