First Time French Polishing

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Project by swirlsandburls posted 02-06-2020 10:29 PM 979 views 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A customer had this old mahogany dresser and side table that belonged to her mother. It had been moved around a nursing home quite a bit and had broken and missing veneer, faded and scratched finish, and a hole in the back. She wanted it to be cleaned up (and it needed repairs to the drawer stops). So, once I figured out that it had a traditional shellac finish, I decided to bite the bullet and give french polishing a try. I had to cut the top layer of mahogany veneer as well as portions of the underlay plywood. Then, I matched a new piece of veneer, and hand stained it with a couple of different color stains using an artist’s brush to match the overall grain pattern. Then it was mixing the garnet shellac and learning the polishing technique. Lots of hard work, probably 40 coats of shellac.

Well, it went pretty well! She was thrilled with the results and it is now at her home.

-- patience is a virtue ... in woodworking, cooking, and life in general

12 comments so far

View teetomterrific's profile


123 posts in 1697 days

#1 posted 02-06-2020 10:57 PM

Nicely done! I think repairing furniture well is way harder that building new. You should be proud it looks great!

-- Tom, Adams, TN

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


23294 posts in 5011 days

#2 posted 02-06-2020 11:18 PM

Amazing. Looks similar to a bedroom set my folks had.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View sansoo22's profile


1972 posts in 990 days

#3 posted 02-06-2020 11:20 PM

Very nice job! That’s a finishing technique I’ve been tempted to learn a time or two myself. Its just not my personal taste for something to put in my home. I think you did a fantastic job.

View savannah505's profile


1886 posts in 4922 days

#4 posted 02-07-2020 12:01 AM

Excellent work sir, I know what it takes to do a french polish, kudos to you.

-- Dan Wiggins

View recycle1943's profile


6206 posts in 2958 days

#5 posted 02-07-2020 12:09 AM

Beautiful restore – it takes a serious eye to do that correctly
Sure looks like you nailed it

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View shipwright's profile


8781 posts in 4133 days

#6 posted 02-07-2020 12:44 AM

Looks pretty good. The polishing is actually pretty easy if the prep is done right. If you see the “ghost trails” you’re doing it right. :-)
Nice repair!

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View swirt's profile


7113 posts in 4307 days

#7 posted 02-07-2020 02:53 AM

Nice save. Great results. Well done.

-- Galootish log blog,

View therealSteveN's profile


9388 posts in 1910 days

#8 posted 02-07-2020 05:46 AM

Excellent repair, spectacular looking finish.

-- Think safe, be safe

View SpartyOn's profile


82 posts in 3482 days

#9 posted 02-07-2020 01:21 PM

Wow. Outstanding job!

View Dark_Lightning's profile


5009 posts in 4444 days

#10 posted 02-07-2020 08:18 PM

Nice repair!

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View Peteybadboy's profile


4338 posts in 3285 days

#11 posted 02-08-2020 09:42 PM

Nice job on the repair. I have used that finish technique. Lots of coats!

-- Petey

View WhattheChuck's profile


467 posts in 4896 days

#12 posted 02-25-2020 05:31 AM

Crazy awesome!

-- Chuck, Pullman, WA

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