We can help you, we have created a series of teaching dvds showing how to set up and use tools and to learn techniques like French Polishing. These feature some of the best craftsmen in the world showing you directly, in your own home, just how to do it.
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Here is what Alan, a recent customer, has to say…
Good afternoon David,
I have had a go at french polishing after watching your DVD and using the kit, and I am really amazed at the result. So far I have only tried the transparent polish.
I made my first attempt on a piece of ash, and for comparison I also used, what was one of my favourite finishes, finpol extra hard polish applied with a mop.
I wont be using the finpol again!
I have achieved what I can only describe as the best polished surface that I have ever accomplished.
The starter kit is really good value for money, and the DVD is so informative, highly recommended.
Many thanks for making the DVD and putting the starter kit together.
Please refer, wherever you can, to the DVD that accompanies this, these notes are only a guide; our DVD will show you how the polish goes on.
The French Polishing Kit contains a selection of hard sanding blocks, please use these on the timber as shown in the French Polishing DVD — the idea is that you put the shine on to the timber before applying the polish.
Notice that when you’re sanding you are removing the scratches made by the previous block. If you want a filled surface, you need to leave the sanding dust on the surface of the timber when you begin to use the first rubber. Use this rubber with pumice and a small amount of polish, working the polish into the surface and making sure you’re not skimming over the surface but, instead, getting a good mixture of pumice, sanding dust and polish.
This is the fastest way to fill and build a quick polish. This rubber is called a “grinder” due to the slightly abrasive pumice; you are grinding the pumice into the grain of the timber and mixing it with the polish and the dust from sanding the timber, making a perfect grain filler.
The pumice is pale grey and in a small sachet in the French Polishing Kit be sure not confuse this with the polish which is Amber in colour. I do suggest that you use this technique but perhaps not the first time you attempt to french polish.
In our polishing kit you will find 3 small bottles with a pale yellow liquid inside — this is alcohol. You could use methylated spirits, however this is usually a purple colour due to dying agents in it and can’t be used on the very blonde timbers but can be used on other woods.
There are two small sachets, one pale brown granules and one amber granules. These are Transparent Shellac and Garnet Shellac; a dark yellow shellac polish.
Add the contents of one of the two sachets to the small bottle of alcohol and shake until dissolved, this will give you sufficient polish in a relatively dilute form that will enable you to learn how to french polish (a thicker polish mixture can be troublesome when you are learning).
You can buy transparent shellac, which is what we use in the workshop. Our supplier is Mylands Ltd in London, UK.
It is most important that the polish is made up fresh. One of the great problems with learning french polishing is buying polish that is too old to be used with any degree of certainty.
Freshly prepared polish goes on quickly, easily and dries pretty fast. Polish that is older than 3 months will dry less hard and more slowly.
In each of our French Polishing Kits there is a small bottle of oil. When you get to using this do so very sparingly; a small dab of oil on the rubber as shown in the DVD is all you need. The oil just helps you to polish a little bit longer by allowing the rubber to slide over the surface a little more smoothly.
There is a cloth and some wadding to help you make up your first French polishing rubber — the DVD shows you how as this is a little complicated to explain in writing. We have provided you with a good quality piece of cotton — the quality of the cloth for the rubber is very important.
A good used white T-shirt would provide this. There is a wadding inside the rubber, which can be made up of anything that holds the polish and gives a little bit of bounce to the surface. The man that taught me would use raw lambswool; he would go around the field and pull the wool off of the barbed wire. Another polisher I know uses his wife’s used tights (this I am going to copy).
We have provided you here very dilute polish so that you can learn how to handle the polish. Take your time and see how the polish builds up relatively quickly. What you’re doing with each pass of the rubber is melting the surface of the polish below pushing polish from the tops of the “mountains” in to the bottom of the “valley” (the peaks and troughs of the grain in the wood).
You have to work a polished surface it just doesn’t come with its own accord.
When you get the hang of it, what you will find yourself doing is applying polish in a session. A session is a period of time, usually no more than 5 to 10 minutes. During a session you will apply maybe 20 or 30 coats of polish, or passes of the rubber. A session is usually as much as any component can be be polished at one time — You know when to stop when there is a feeling that there is just too much polish on the surface and the rubber is starting to grab and jump.
The surface will usually to be polished completely in 3 full sessions.
Allow at least 24-hour between each session for the polish to sink down.
These three sessions are usually called “bodying up” where the body of the polish is applied. The final session is called “spiriting off” which is where you remove the oil that you have used in the bodying up process.
For spiriting off a clean rubber is used with just a small amount of alcohol and no polish, just enough to feel cold when touched against the skin.
Watch the dvd again and again.
Have fun and, please, tell me how you get on — firstname.lastname@example.org
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