We are expert French Polishers in Dublin, using the traditional hand skilled art of French polishing we prepare and treat the wood to enhance its natural beauty. In terms of the finish, French Polish is a shellac based finish that was used during the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries as the premier finish for furniture. There is a wadding inside the rubber, which can be made up of anything that holds the polish and gives a little bit of bounce to the surface. Leaving the ambient temperature and humidity constant can help your furniture and floors to last much longer. The stroke shape and pressure is gradually increased as the rubber applies the shellac to the surface. Excess moisture in the environment can lead to a ‘bloom’ appearing in the finish as moisture is absorbed by the polish and becomes trapped.
Before french polishing was used as a finish, joiners and cabinet makers finished furniture with a mixture of linseed oil, turpentine and beeswax. These and other additives combined with heat and light can make the finish tougher, by cross-linking the polymers and oils in the shellac. Even with these accolades for the finish, the actual process, French polishing, has benefits for the maker. It is very sad to me that with the amazing verity of shellacs available, I rarely see people using the darker shades of shellac.
The muslin is charged in the same way but this time it is wrapped in the linen and the resulting pad is squeezed to bring the shellac to the surface. My method of French polishing involves only three stages having been reduced to the very basic possible. Tasks: Prepare work pieces (practice boards) and items of furniture etc – cleaning, de-waxing as needed; sealing coats of shellac; rubbing down and re-coating; understanding polishing sessions; traditional method of grain filling open pore wood using pumice powder and shellac, as well as other pore-filling techniques for different situations.
Full panels can be sprayed and it is used for applying the darker band of colour around panel edges as seen on much modern furniture; I would have liked to experiment with toner but was put off by the cost. In more traditional French polishing this pumice powder is also used to fill the pores in the hardwoods. The purpose of the oil is to keep the pad from drying out and sticking as you apply shellac.
But if you actually like the beauty of wood, especially if your piece is made from a hardwood such as mahogany that has intrinically beautiful graining, to mask it over with paint is, frankly, criminal. It is really not that hard to use darker colors, once you get your technique mastered to the point that you are applying a very even coat of finish on the guitar. Many finishers are satisfied with the shellac finish as it appears now after the final sessions of polishing with alcohol. We see furniture that has been lovingly wax polished every day since it was bought.
The best protection for shellac finishes, and the most common method of care used during the time shellac was the furniture finish of choice, is wax. We have provided you here very dilute polish so that you can learn how to handle the polish. Build a fresh pad, then add a few drops shellac and several drops of alcohol to the cloth. Polish one small working area at a time and occasionally wipe the surface clean so that the results of the polishing can be closely observed.
The process is very labour intensive and requires some skill, and in the Victorian age french polishers were considered craftsmen. Furniture finishers use shellac, alcohol, oil, pumice and sandpaper or sanding tools to produce French polish. It is a skillful job which amateurs try to accomplish but fail towards the end of the process where the real skill and experience comes in. Our expert finisher can build up the body of polish on the wood to achieve an outstanding piano finish. This short course gives students a thorough grounding in the safe and practical use of traditional wood staining and French polishing techniques, through practical demonstrations and hands-on experience.
The French Polishing Course (based at our workshop in Lincoln), offers one-to-one tuition, to a professional level, so we guarantee you will learn all the techniques in detail, without the wasted time that often occurs with a larger group of students. I made my first attempt on a piece of ash, and for comparison I also used, what was one of my favourite finishes, finpol extra hard polish applied with a mop. Further, wax will add a second level of defense against the liquid enemies of shellac.
Another reason shellac fell from favour is its tendency to melt under low heat; for example, hot cups can leave marks on it. However, French polish is far more forgiving than any other finish in the sense that, unlike lacquers, it can be easily repaired. Furniture is also worked on by us. Our polisher spent 30 years on antique furniture, in repair and renovation. These polishing sessions are the building” stage of the French polishing process.