High Gloss French Polishing

french polish
Mahogany with French Polished Shellac.

This board was one of my very first test pieces for the French Polishing process, and it has an extremely high gloss.  The reflection on the wood is from the desk lamp that is positioned above it, and you can see the shape of the light bulb easily.  This was after several coats.

The Book Store is Now Open!   Happy Building!

French polishing is just a method for applying shellac to wood.  It is a far more involved method than brushing or rag applying the finish, however it can create an incredible gloss that will look far more beautiful than applying it using other methods.

The basic version of the technique is that shellac and alcohol are applied to a rubbing pad with a little mineral oil for lubrication.  The pad is rubbed on the surface of the wood in many different directions and patterns, and the shellac is transferred to the surface.

These sessions are repeated with drying time in between them and the result is an extremely glossy finish that has an older look than lacquer or polyurethane.  The surface will not be as durable as a modern finish, but can still be handled gently and last a long time.

The best shellac to use is de-waxed shellac flakes that are mixed with alcohol before using.  These last almost forever when kept dry, and the advantage is you only need to mix up what you need each time, which saves product.

I wanted to share this for the beauty aspect more than the instruction aspect.  I have a few videos on my youtube site for French Polishing if you are looking for a method.  However, there are better ways to finish wood that are more durable and less time consuming than French Polishing.

Free Woodworking Tips Delivered Every Monday! Add Me to the List!

Check out my article on How to Finish with Tru-Oil for a little less involved method of finishing that will look beautiful as well.

More From Westfarthing Woodworks

woodworking and guitar making books
Buy My Woodworking Books on Amazon!

I give away the majority of my woodworking, wood finishing, and guitar making tips, but I also have several books if you want to take the next step.

a beginners guide to woodworking helping new woodworkers make better projects woodworking

You can see them in my Book Store, and they are all on Amazon.

Also, if you want to Join the Facebook Group, you can do that as well. We are just starting to grow a fantastic community and I would love for you to be part of it. 


Leave a Comment

An Exclusive Member of Mediavine Home

Westfarthing Woodworks LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.