STEP 2: Then use a series of circular movements, from circles to loops to figure eights, to build the finish. Go back to occasional straight strokes to keep the finish even.


Padding finishes produce a higli-gloss finish like traditional French polishing, but they're easier to use.

As an apprentice in my father's shop in Hungary years ago, I spent countless hours learning to master the art of French polishing—applying shellac with a pad. Today, there are modern materials called padding finishes, also known as padding lacquers, that produce the same glossy sheen, yet they're easier to use and offer better protection than traditional French polish. I use them to pad a finish on new wood, or when I want to restore an old finish. (See main article.)

linlikc traditional French polish, where abrasives and lubricants arc-used to apply ultra-thin coats of shellac, padding finishes already contain lubricants like kerosene and paraffin oil, making them ready to go right from the bottle. This makes them easier to use than French polish. And some padding finishes have small amounts of nitrocellulose lacquer mixed in, which means you'll get a more water- and alcohol-resistant finish. I find that even those padding finishes without lacquer in them are less susceptible to water marks than traditional French polish.

There arc three suppliers of padding finishes—Behlen, Mohawk and Star— (see Sources) and each sells an assortment of finishes with different characteristics such as color, drying time and the speed with which a finish can l>e built. I use several kinds from Mohawk and rely mostly on Rapid Pad for all-

around work, especially on flat surfaces where I want to build a finish quickly. When I'm applying a finish on the lathe, I use Qualasolc bccause it dries fast, preventing my pad from sticking while the workpiece spins. For touching up the color of a piece, I use Lacover and mix powdered pigments with the liquid.

Most padding finishes are high-gloss, making them a poor choice if you want a low-luster finish, bccause the finish is so thin that rubbing down the sheen just produces a splotchy effect. But Star docs sell one satin version called Satinol.

If you've never used padding finishes, try a slow-drying variety like Behlen's Ultra Qualasolc, Mohawk's Golden Rapid Pad or Star-Lite from Star to get a feel for how these finishes work. Also, buy your padding finishes in the smallest quantities available bccausc, being shcllac-bascd, they have a shelf life of about a year.—F.K

scraping or heating, sincc strippers are less likely to damage the wood. (For more on paint strippers, see aw *22.)

Once you learn to restore a finish, you'll be able to retain the characteristics of an old piece of furniture instead of making it look like it was just made yesterday. After all, it takes many years for a piece to develop the grace that age gives it, and I believe that it's worth preserving that history whenever you can. ▲

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