French polishing is a technique used mainly on antique furniture that can result in a low to very high sheen. French polishing with shellac and applied in the traditional way with a rubber can involve french polishing a piece of furniture with hundreads of layers of polish. To create the ultimate glow french polishing with a clear polish is more desirable.
Using colour is at times required to create an even and more balanced finish. French polishing is certainly the best looking result for any piece of furniture but it is more often the method applied to antique furniture. Furniture made of solid wood as in the case of antique furniture is more prone to movemment with the change of temperature than modern veneered furniture.
French polishing with shellac is a more flexible finish than modern laquers and is highly recommended for antique furniture. It has now become fashionable to re-polish antique table tops with laquer for its perceived extra resistance to heat and water but it does come with a compromise
The loss of natural colour and glow with the prospects of future re-polishing makes it less appealing to the connoisseur. Laquer finishes are more predominantly used on modern furniture and are more suitable as this furniture tends to be made using veneers. So I recommend french polishing for antique furniture and laquer finishes for modern furniture.
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