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French Polishing Wasilla AK

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
(907)357-8181
1255 Palmer Wasilla Hwy
Wasilla, AK
Hours
Mon-Sat: 6:00am-10:00pm
Sun: 7:00am-8:00pm

Wasilla - B
(907) 352-6800
1000 S Seward Meridian Rd
Wasilla, AK
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

Weld Air Alaska
(907) 373-2000
301 Centaur Wasilla, AK, 99654
Wasilla, AK
 
Spenard Builders Supply- Big Lake
907-892-6001
10927 Big Lake Road Big Lake, AK, 99652
Big Lake, AK
 
Spenard Builders Supply- Eagle River
907-694-3527
17320 Northgate Park Eagle River, AK, 99577
Eagle River, AK
 
Alaska Industrial Hardware- Wasilla
907-376-5274
751 West Parks Hwy Wasilla, AK, 99654
Wasilla, AK
 
Lowe's
(907) 352-3100
2561 East Sun Mountain Avenue
Wasilla, AK
Hours
M-SA 6 am - 10 pm
SU 8 am - 8 pm

Spenard Builders Supply- Wasilla
907-373-2806
2501 E Bogard Road Wasilla, AK, 99654
Wasilla, AK
 
Alaska Industrial Hardware- Eagle River
907-694-2988
12330 Old Glenn Hwy Eagle River, AK, 99577
Eagle River, AK
 
The Home Depot
(907)644-5646
1715 Abbott Road
Anchorage, AK
Hours
Mon-Sat: 6:00am-10:00pm
Sun: 7:00am-8:00pm

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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