How to use French polishing to restore antique furniture

As skilled and experienced French polishers, we're able to enhance and restore all types of antiques. Here we answer some of the commonly asked questions regarding French polishing:


What is French polishing?

French Polishing a mahogany perimeter leaved tableFrench polishing is the most commonly known wood finishing technique. It produces a high-gloss surface and is undoubtedly a beautiful way to finish wood surfaces.

The technique uses its own specific product (a shellac resin) but combines this with other products and techniques. Nowadays it is widely considered to be a process more than anything else.

The process involves the application and building-up of layer after layer of very thin coats of shellac dissolved in methylated sprits skillfully applied to the surfaces using a French Polishers ‘rubber'. The rubber consists of a carefully folded a piece of wadding made into a pear-shape - and charged with the shellac resin, this would then be covered with a lint-free piece of cotton neatly twisted and folded to maintain the pear shape, the rubber is then skillfully applied to the surface to be polished using the resin within the ‘rubber' using a varying range of motions to fill the grain and achieve the desired effect. Tight corners and hard to reach areas are able to be coated utilising the ‘pear' shaped point of the rubber.


Lac beetle

What is French polish?

The primary ingredient of French polish is shellac: a tiny female Lac beetle which secretes an amber-coloured waxy resin. It was developed in the early 1700s and was widely used around the 1800s onwards to sensitively revive original surfaces and bring out the rich colours in wood. It gives a high-gloss, high-quality look and feel.




What is a French polisher?

A French polisher will have a broad-ranging base of knowledge for achieving the exact finish for your antiques or archectural woodwork. This will involve French polishing - the application of French polish itself - but also the use of other waxes, oils and polishing techniques depending on the required finish.


Removing white water-marks from a table topDo you offer French polishing at Bayleys?

Yes. Here at Bayleys we're highly-experienced French polishers and use the traditional technique to apply shellac resin to wood to revive original surfaces. We are able to sensitively refinish antiques in order to enhance and restore all types of period items of furniture and architectural woodwork.

Unsightly water-marks and scratches and other surface damage can also be removed using this traditional approach.


For more information

Call us on 01392 876888, email:

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Bayleys Furnisture Restoration Ltd is registered in England & Wales with Company No.7464446                             Registered office: Woodbury House, Green Lane, Exton, Exeter EX3 0PW