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French Polishing Indianola IA

What is French polish? It’s simply shellac and a little oil applied with a pad. The oil acts as a lubricant when you apply the finish. French polish is available as commercially made products, also labeled as padding lacquer or friction polish.

The Home Depot
(515)287-7269
4900 SE 14th St
Des Moines, IA
Hours
Mon-Sat: 6:00am-10:00pm
Sun: 8:00am-8:00pm

Circle B
(515) 961-5381
1700 North Jefferson
Indianola, IA
 
Acme Tools-Des Moines
515-244-4189
629 SW 9th Street DES MOINES, IA, 50309
Des Moines, IA
 
The Home Depot
(563)359-7228
920 Middle Road
Bettendorf, IA
Hours
Mon-Sat: 6:00am-9:00pm
Sun: 8:00am-8:00pm

Hartzell Wood Stock
(563) 566-2298
111 Center Street P.O. Box 176
Lime Springs, IA

Data Provided by:
Mccoy True Value Hdw
(515) 961-4755
216 N Howard St
Indianola, IA
 
South Ridge Mall Ste 2002
(515) 287-4720
1111 Se Army Post Rd
Des Moines, IA
Store Hours
Sears Stores
Store Type
Sears Stores
Hours
Mon:10-21
Tue:10-21
Wed:10-21
Thu:10-21
Fri:10-21
Sat:9-21
Sun:11-18
Store Features
Mon:10-21
Tue:10-21
Wed:10-21
Thu:10-21
Fri:10-21
Sat:9-21
Sun:11-18

The Home Depot
(515)221-2233
3700 University Ave
West Des Moines, IA
Hours
Mon-Sat: 6:00am-10:00pm
Sun: 8:00am-8:00pm

The Home Depot
(319)232-8889
1050 Southtown Drive
Waterloo, IA
Hours
Mon: 6:00am-9:00pm
Tue: 7:00am-9:00pm
Wed-Sat: 6:00am-9:00pm
Sun: 8:00am-8:00pm

Hill Hardwood Supply, Inc.
(319) 351-6640
3564 Dolphin Drive SE
Iowa City, IA

Data Provided by:
Data Provided by:

French Polishing

French Polishing

Six Easy Steps to a Beautiful Finish

by Alan Lacer

French polish adds extraordinary depth to gorgeous wood. This finish is perfect for bowls, vessels, lamps and other turnings that aren’t handled often or are exposed to moisture, alcohol or heat. It’s easy to apply: Just hold a cloth moistened with the finish directly to your project as it spins on the lathe. 

What is French polish? It’s simply shellac and a little oil applied with a pad. The oil acts as a lubricant when you apply the finish. French polish is available as commercially made products, also labeled as padding lacquer or friction polish, but I prefer to make my own from flakes, which guarantees freshness. You can achieve a variety of effects because shellac is available in a range of colors (see “Buying Shellac,” below). Here’s how you can mix your own French polish, choose different colors, apply it and rub it out. 

Sand with Fine Grits

Thoroughly sand all surfaces of your project to eliminate torn grain, spirals and ridges. Start with 120-grit and progress through 150-, 180- and 220-grit sandpaper (Photo 1). If sanding scratches still show, continue with 320- or 400-grit sandpaper. Maple and cherry often require these finer grits. After sanding, remove the dust using an alcohol-moistened paper towel.

Photo 1: Sand your piece to eliminate flaws and sanding rings. Remove sanding dust using a paper towel moistened with denatured alcohol held against the workpiece while it’s spinning.

Mix the French Polish

You can use shellac flakes or premixed liquid shellac to make French polish. Either way, your goal is to make a 1-1/2-lb. cut, which is the equivalent of mixing 1-1/2 lbs. of flakes with 1 gal. of denatured alcohol. That’s far too much finish for most projects, however. If you use flakes, dissolve 1-1/2 oz. of flakes with 1 cup of denatured alcohol. Premixed liquid shellac comes in a 3-lb. cut. To make approximately a 1-1/2 lb. cut, thin it with an equal amount of denatured alcohol.

The final ingredient of French polish is an oil, which acts a lubricant to prevent your applicator cloth from dragging or sticking. Add 1 tablespoon of mineral oil for every 3 liquid oz. of 1-1/2-lb.-cut shellac (Photo 2).

Photo 2: French polish is a mixture of shellac and oil. Little oil is needed; it acts as a lubricant for the shellac.

Apply the Finish

Adjust your lathe to run at a moderate speed, about 500 to 800 rpm, slower for large-diameter turnings. Make an applicator for applying the French polish from a densely woven, soft, white cotton cloth that has been washed many times to remove all lint. Soften the pad with alcohol before dipping it into the French polish.

Shake the French polish to suspend the oil, as though it were an oil-and-vinegar salad dressing. Turn on the lathe, saturate the cloth pad and flow on the finish (Photo 3). If the cloth grabs, add a half teaspoon of oil. Let thi...

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