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French Polishing in Lichfield

We offer a cost effective and professional French polishing service in the Lichfield and Staffordshire area. Our French polishers are some of the best in the country and are all highly experienced craftsmen specialising in all aspects of contemporary and traditional French polishing techniques.

French polishing is a technique used to achieve a beautifully high gloss and deep colour to wooden surfaces. The technique used by French polishers is to use a soft cotton rubbing pad, generally referred to as a fad, to apply many thin layers of polish until the required finish is achieved.

The main polish used is called Shellac which is actually the purified secretion of the lac beetle, a sap-sucking insect from India and Thailand. French polishing Shellac can be bought ready mixed, or in flakes or "buttons" and may be clear or tinted red, or golden. The Shellac polish is usually thinned down with alcohol or mentholated spirits before application.

French polishers use various applicators during the polishing process. For example a squirrel hair mop brush is used for smaller pieces or more detailed work. As detailed above, a fad is a material very similar to cotton wool which is dipped in the polish and applied to the wood in several thin layers.


Another commonly used applicator in French polishing is a 'rubber' which is is basically wadding with a soft cotton cloth wrapped around it to give a smooth silky pad. Rubbers are commonly used for applying the French polish to items of fine furniture. The rubber can also be used with raw linseed oil in a figure- eight motion and then straightened off to finish (generally a pumice is also used during this application).

The French polishing process is lengthy and extremely repetitive. The classic finish is achieved through a specific combination of different rubbing motions. First, French polishers use circular and figure-eights motions, then spiriting off any streaks left on the surface. Polishers have to wait for considerable time whilst building up layers of Shellac polish until the desired finish is obtained.

 

 

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The process is usually finished off after levelling (oil sanding), then light buffing with carnauba wax. Too much heat or pressure from buffing will melt off the shellac and result in a bare spot that must be refinished.

French polishing became popular in the early part of the 20th century. During this era French polishing commonly used on mahogany and other expensive woods, and was considered the best possible finish for fine furniture and string instruments like guitars and pianos.

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