Following on from our popular Top tips for you to try at home, here are an additional 20 tips from Terry Waters to help you achieve the perfect French polish finish at home.


1. Prepare the surface

You must ensure that the surface is clean and sanded down. Any slight imperfections would be apparent under French polish unlike varnish finishes.

2. Stubborn stains

Use white spirit and fine steel wool to free furniture of stubborn wax and grease.

3. Severe stains

Use paint and varnish remover for surfaces that are severely stained or scratched.

4. Fill the grain

Fill the grain beforehand if you are looking for a smooth mirror like finish.

5. Lighter shades

A lighter shade can be achieved by bleaching the surface with Wood Bleach and then stained to the required colour.

6. Holes and cracks

Holes and cracks should be filled with Wood stopping before polishing

7. Noticeable holes

Holes filled with Wood stopping will be noticeable, this can be hidden by painting over the holes with artist colours and a fine artists brush.

8. The rubber

The polish is applied with a “rubber” made by wrapping a piece of lint free cotton around some cotton wadding.

9. Types of rubber

A large “rubber” is best for bigger surfaces such as dining tables or floors to and a small “rubber” would be better for something like a coffee table.

10. Smooth cloth

The cloth needs to be perfectly smooth, so there needs to be no stitching within the cloth on the base of the pad.

11. Quick and gentle

The first applications of polish should be made by rubbing up and down over the surface quickly with the “rubber” without exerting too much pressure.

12. Take your time

Wait at least a few minutes for small items, before another application is made.

13. Circle or figure of eight

Further applications should be applied to the surface quickly and lightly, in a circle or figure of eight motion.

14. Linseed Oil

Apply a small amount Linseed Oil to the rubber if the shellac hardens and the rubber is not sliding easily.

15. Not too much Linseed Oil

Make sure not to apply too much Linseed Oil as this will smear the surface, only a small drop is required.

16. Keep it moving

Never let the rubber stick or stop on the surface, keep it moving, remembering to use the circle or figure of eight motion.

17. Work with the grain

Work with the grain and apply thin coats of polish

18. Rubber storage

Store the rubber in a jam jar in between applications to prevent it from drying and becoming hard.

19. Spiriting Off 

Spiriting Off is the process of removing excess oil from the surface, with gradually diluted polish and methylated spirit. More meth is added for each application, the ratio starts at 25% meth working up to a 100%.

20. Important

Before attempting to use these French Polishing tips, first test what you have learnt on a spare piece of wood, or contact Terry Waters for professional help

French Polishing for all sectors

Here at Terry Waters we hope these French polishing tips help when trying to do your own French Polishing at home.  However if you are a small, medium or large business who require our help on a grander scale then please get in touch with the TWFP team today. Call us on 01827 874 535, or complete this online contact form. Alternatively email us at

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