French Polishing
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P.T. Bali Woodwoorld offers French Polishing as an optional finish for the interior wood surfaces only.  Because French Polishing requires a large number of coats and intermediate sanding, there is an additional charge for this option.  French Polishing is NOT suitable for wood that is exposed to the weather.

For anyone who wishes to make their home as “organic” as possible by eliminating all man-made toxins, plastics, solvent or acrylic based paints, hydrocarbon based carpets (nylon, polyester), etc., French Polishing is almost a must.  To understand why, read the section below on the origins of Shellac, the base component for French Polishing.

French polishing on flooring will become dull and bare during its use, although the color of the stain will remain. This will give an antique look. Unlike other stains, lacquers, varnishes and paints, French polishing will not scale when exposed to rain and sunlight, since the denatured alcohol evaporates instantly when applied leaving the stain color of the Shellac embedded in the grains of the wood.

A floor treated with French polishing will give an antique look over time.



French polishing is one of the classic finishes for wood. Although French polishing came to the fore in the late 19th century, the underlying premise of using Shellac has been used for nearly 4000 years.


The "Organic" origins of Shellac ......


Shellac resins come from the Coccus Lacca bug, indigenous to Indonesia, Thailand and India and are actually the insect's resinous secretions.

The Coccus Lacca, a scale insect that feeds on certain trees, produces gummy substances thru its pores, which are actually the insect's resinous secretions which hardens into a protective coating called "lac". This lac is collected and then crushed washed and dried.



Ironically, for a finish that has such a dubious start in life, Shellac has many applications in today's world. The resin provides a non-toxic, thermoplastic coating that is approved by the food and drug industries as a coating on fruits (where the resin prevents molds and spores) and drugs where it acts as a slow release enteric coating on many today's medicines.

The Shellac has excellent adhesive properties and can be polished to a high gloss or rubbed out to a satin or flat sheen as desired.   

Shellac has usually a clear (blond) or amber (orange) color. Some ready to use variations come pre-mixed with denatured alcohol. It is also possible to use "pure" Shellac flakes that can be mixed with alcohol.


The secret of the proper use of Shellac lays in the number of "cuts". Each pound of Shellac flakes that is added to one gallon of denatured alcohol equates to one pound cut. Normally, Shellac is not used over a three pound cut.

The trick of the Shellac is that it dries very quickly since the alcohol evaporates almost instantly. This allows one to apply many thin film layers of the mix quiet quickly, resulting in a very even coat of paint.    


All Shellacs imbue some bit of color to wood. They also won't yellow as much with age as other varnishes and lacquer.

Shellac dries hard and won't gum-up like oil finishes. It is easily repairable, has an outstanding clarity and really pops the grain of those wild grained woods.


Once you have seen a Shellac finishing ain't no going back to any other finishing.        

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Last modified: September 20, 2013
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