What Is French Polishing?

(Note: This is not instructions in "how to", just simply a brief explanation.)

Because of the labor intense process of finishing a guitar by "French Polishing", few manufacturers do it.  Lacquers & Polyurethanes are mostly used.  Some luthiers feel that French Polishing a guitar, which actually is not polishing but shellac varnishing, is the best way to do it because the guitar sounds better.  French polishing now is usually only done for the finest hand made classical guitars.  General liquid shellac you buy in the store doesn't seem to suit acoustic guitar making because it dries too slowly, soaking into the wood too deeply and changing the tone of the wood.  Using the French polishing leaves a thin coating and a gloss after many rubbing and sanding steps.  The amount of rubbing needed is probably where the word polishing came from.  The French polish finish is a more delicate one than the ones mentioned above but is easily repairable.  As a matter of fact, some luthiers use French polishing to touch up damaged lacquer finishes.  The shellac used for French polishing comes in flakes.  Denatured ethanol is added to small amounts as needed to dissolve it and it dries more quickly than store bought liquid shellac.  Pumice is used as a filler and as an abrasive during the process.  Pure olive oil is used as a lubricant while applying more layers.

Bob, Gman ( o )==#

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