French polishing DVD

French polishing has been used for finishing musical instruments for hundreds of years, is still the preferred method of finishing classical guitars.


This DVD based course follows the process of French polishing a guitar, from preparation of the surfaces, through filling of the grain, building up the shellac, and the critical final stages required to achieve a professional finish. Chapters and Sub-headings allow for easy navigation through all the stages. One chapter is devoted to the materials required, and these are listed in more detail, along with suggested suppliers, in the accompanying booklet. The booklet also contains a summary of the contents of the DVD, and some additional material, and is divided into the same Chapter and Sub-headings as the DVD itself. Running time is approximately 150 minutes.

What is French Polish?

The term “French polish” actually refers to the technique used to apply the finish, rather than the material used, but in general French polishing refers to a shellac finish applied with a rubber or pad, and built up slowly with very many coats. The material itself, shellac, is produced from a resin secreted by the lac beetle, which is processed to form flakes, which are then dissolved in alcohol to produce a liquid polish.

There are a number of finishes that can be used for classical guitars, so why use shellac? Firstly it’s a very beautiful finish when applied well. It is also non-toxic, and it is a relatively easy finish to repair. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it is possible to produce a high gloss without building the finish up to a thickness where it would dampen the vibrations of the soundboard.


The DVD is available to buy direct from me through this website (using PayPal), and from some luthier’s suppliers. Cost is £45 within the UK, or £48 overseas, including postage and packing.


Chapter Summary

  1. Introduction
  2. Materials
  3. Preparation
    • Surface Preparation
    • Raising the Grain
    • Masking Off
  4. Basic Technique
    • Introduction
    • Coats vs. Sessions
  5. Grain Filling
    • Sealing
    • Filling the Grain
    • Filling on the Head
  6. Bodying Up
    • First Polishing Session
    • Sanding Back
    • Further Sessions
    • Spiriting Off
  7. Final Polishing Session
  8. Burnishing

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More about the DVD:

Click the button below to see the review of the DVD featured in Classical Guitar Magazine, March 2013