Heat Resisting Pale French Polish
This is my polish of choice as it is one of the best products available for interior finishing of wood. In essence, this is a modified French polish, which gives the classic high-class finish and elasticity of a shellac product (French polish) with a degree of heat resistance comparable to many modern materials.
When finished off with a good quality polishing wax, you have the combination of heat and liquid resistance plus the beauty of traditional French polish.
French Polishing Process
I recently restored a Mahogany Table. Here is an explanation of the polishing process I used from start to finish.
Table Top – Stages of Polishing
The top has many ring and watermarks plus a general cracking of surface polish. This is too severe for reviving so full re-polishing is necessary.
- First of all, preparation is vital. All traces of existing polish must be removed to achieve a good quality finish. A mild chemical that dissolves polish is applied to the surface with a brush and then the polish removed with very fine wire wool soaked in spirit.
- A light sanding is required for the new polish to key properly.
- I blend a variety of light-fast stains until I have a colour slightly lighter than the under-frame which I then apply with wadding. The polish will be darkened later in the colouring stage.
- French polish is soaked into a rubber (a fine polishing wadding wrapped in a small square sheet of cotton) and is applied to the surface. The process of application requires the rubber to be moved in various motions i.e. figure of eight, swirls and waves so the polish can be forced into the grain.
- For authenticity, the majority of scratches and dents are not filled but un-sightly faults can be filled with wax mixed with pigments and colours. The table is then bodied up as before.
- This process is to disguise scratches and marks and involves the blending together of French polish with different colours and pigments, in a similar way that an artist would mix paints on a pallet. The colour mixes are applied with a pencil brush and each blemish may require a different colour mix to disguise the fault.
- Mild colours are added to the polish and applied by a combination of mop brush and rubber following the grain of the wood.
- The surface is bodied up as before, but the French polish is gradually thinned with spirit and sprinkled with linseed oil.
- Before the finishing coat is completely dry a slightly abrasive wax is applied to the surface. This gives the affect of aging the French polish and achieving a lovely satin sheen.
As the under-frame is in a reasonable condition, it only required touching-up and freshening-over with French polish.
- As above to disguise scratches and marks.
- Nib the item with very fine glass paper, touch up any marks, body up surface to seal, then apply wax to finish the process.