Lazy polishers with a pot of plastic: A Makers Year 60

Whats wrong with a bit of work?

A lot of rubbish is talked about French Polish and polishing – it takes forever; it’s not a resistant shine; it’s very expensive; it’s not as good as modern finishes; some speak of the lack of hardness in comparison with modern lacquers.

All of these are not the truth, they are lies. The most amazing rubbish is taught by polishers themselves. As my old mentor once said: “these are unreliable people, David. They drink the ruddy polish they use. Never let your daughter marry a polisher, David, Never!

What is true is that it is easier to get a ring mark on a French polished surface than a lacquered surface, but I don’t think it’s true that French polishing is not as strong or as resilient. Just look at the French polished mahogany dining tables in many of our our finest National Trust stately homes. You can also repair that ring mark on shellac lacquer – you just take off and start again. The patina of antique furniture is so precious, so valuable, and it only comes with shellac.

[Tweet “The patina of antique furniture is so precious, so valuable, and it only comes with shellac. #frenchpolishing”]

Suppliers don’t help. They sell us polish that is not the full dewaxed polish, so it is not as strong. It’s cheaper, sure, but rubbish as polish.

The truth is that polishers can be a lazy lot and it’s much easier to get a nice shine with a spray gun and a pot of liquid plastic. So what has happened is that they have talked us into using an inferior lacquer polish for their convenience. It’s not even lacquer, it just calls itself lacquer to sound as good as the genuine Lac used by the Japanese.

“French” does not require a lot of work, but it does require some. We are costing a full French polish on a single cabinet surface at around about an hour –  but it would be spread over maybe five or six days. But it will still only be an hour.  During the hour you might work up a decent sweat, but what’s wrong with a bit of work, you lazy so and so…!

Keep rubbing it will only get better.


David established Rowden Atelier in 1995, a now world renowned fine woodworking school. Discover Rowden, the woodworking courses, and the work that students go on to do.

Looking for our woodworking courses? is the new home of Rowden Atelier Fine Woodworking School.

It is where you will now find all the information about our renowned fine woodworking courses, our ethos, and why our students go on to do so many great things. This site remains dedicated to the designs and work, of Rowden’s Founder; David Savage. If you are looking for our woodworking courses, please click here.