Ever wondered exactly what French polishing is? Ever wondered what a French polisher can do for you? Well if you have a business with wooden furniture, fixtures and fittings there’s a lot that can be done! French polishing for retailers not only enhances the beauty of your fixtures but also protects too. Here’s a quick guide.


French polishing involves the application of many, many thin layers of shellac on to wood. This continues process results in building up a body of polish. Shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug on trees in the forests of India and Thailand. Once processed into dry flakes they are dissolved in ethyl alcohol to make liquid shellac. When used in French polishing this is applied with a brush onto the wood. Shellac acts as a high-gloss varnish and also forms a seal against moisture.

The shellac is applied using a rubbing pad called a fad. No, this isn’t a newfangled craze which will come and go! It’s a traditional French polishing tool and is here to stay. With the rubbing of the shellac onto the wood surface – with a constant, circular motion – the lustre of the wood is revealed. This process is repeated over and over so that gradually a rich finish is developed. The finish is typically left for 24 hours which allows the polish to work its way into the wood surface, filling the pores of the wood, the result of which is a perfect, blemish-free surface. The process is completed by cutting back the finish using a fine abrasive. This process is often repeated so as to achieve the final finish. The results are amazing, breathing new life into wooden furniture, wooden floors, wood antiques and objects, and more.

French polishing is a delicate art. You need to get just the right amount of shellac onto the fad, and then apply just the right amount of hand pressure against the wood. It takes time and patience to achieve anything as good as a professional, but is all the more rewarding for doing so.  It is near impossible to achieve the results that French polishing offer with any other finishing technique. The depth of tone brings out the true richness of the wood.

You can learn more about French polishing by viewing our French polishers guide and dictionary.

French polishing expertise for retailers, bar and restaurant proprietors, and businesses.

For more information on how Terry Waters French Polishing can enhance your wood telephone 01827 874 535 today. Alternatively complete our enquiry form.