French Polishing and Conservation

French polishing has been in existence since circa 1800 and is used widely for creating a highly polished finish.

When conserving a French polished item we usually look to retain the polish by reviving and refreshing the finish. French polish is only completely removed in extreme cases. White water marks and heat marks are generally reversible, and when we repair such localised areas we normally refresh the entire surface, followed by a toned wax finish.

We regularly discover items that have originally been wax finished, but which have subsequently been French polished. In such cases we offer a service of reversing the French polishing in order to take the finish back to the original wax or oil finish, which is usually more appropriate for the piece. There are however occasions when we are requested to retain the French polish, due to the fact that this is how our client remembers the piece.

In order to maintain the integrity of an item we always use traditional materials and techniques when polishing and colour blending. Vandyke water crystals and mahogany water crystals are often employed during the process. Spirit stains, popular in Victorian furniture French polishing, will be used if they had been applied during the original French polishing process.

All work is fully documented for the client.