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This First Cousin to French Polish Is Great for Restoring Old Finishes by bob flexner adding lacquer, or French finish as it's sometimes called, is a modern form of French polish. It'll give you a finish that's almost identical to French polish, but it's much easier to apply. Like French polish, padding lacquer is made from shellac, with alcohol as a solvent. But despite its name, there's little or no lacquer in it. It can be used as an original finish on a new piece, but I believe its best use is to renew an old finish. With relatively little work and a minimum of skill, padding lacquer can make an old, dull, even cracked finish look brand new.

To understand the value of padding lacquer, it's helpful to know something about French polishing. French polishing was developed in the early 19th century as a technique for applying shellac to high-quality furniture. Since then, it has been used to produce both a first-rate shellac finish and as a technique for renewing old finishes.

The technique for French polishing involves depositing very thin coats of shellac on the surface—each coat "melting" into the one before it. (See March/April, 1989/lW) The shellac is applied with a wadded ball of cotton or wool covered bv a cotton or linen cloth. This pad (or "rubber," as it's sometimes called) is dampened with shellac and rubbed on the wood. To keep

A quick and easy application of padding lacquer transformed this table's worn finish into

A quick and easy application of padding lacquer transformed this table's worn finish into

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