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French polishing

Cornwall Furniture Restoration also known as Riverside Antiques are able to carry out a complete restoration and finishing service. Stripping and french polishing of antique and modern furniture is regularly undertaken, which can be as small as a scratch on a tea caddy to the complete restoration, finishing  off a set of library bookcases.  As a french polisher I  will discuss with you all the necessary facts such as colour, patination, and choice of polishes and time scale. We  also provide a collection and delivery service throughout Cornwall and the UK. All furniture is sympathetically refinished using the best quality polish and waxes. A good french polisher needs to know when, and when not to use a shellac finish. Here are some examples of furniture that has been restored and then refinished. If you have any fixtures in your house such as banister rails doorways and staircases that need french polishing then we are able to come out and carry out work onsite  . I have worked on several large dining tables and bookcases that could not be moved.

damage to French polished drawer

The back of this mid eighteenth century mahogany chair has incurred some serious damage and a large section of the rusty nailed timber had to be removed from each shoulder in order to obtain a good repair

re-polished drawer front
needing polishing this badly damaged antique chair

The back of this mid eighteenth century mahogany chair has incurred some serious damage and a large section of the rusty nailed timber had to be removed from each shoulder in order to obtain a good repair

This antique serpantine fronted chest of drawers only required the absolute minimum french polishing. It had suffered from some water damage in the manner of small amounts of splashing on the top and on the drawer fronts. The proportions of the chest were particularly pleasing, measuring about 2 feet 10 inches in width and with a beautiful flame mahogany front with satinwood and rosewood banding. The brass pressed handles were original but it is worth noting that most types of handles can be replaced with new  copies.

Here is the finished result of repairs to the  the country chair shown on the Home page. The break was typically on a weak spot where a lot of stress occurs.

For this mid eighteenth century mahogany chest of drawers, not a great deal of  french polishing was not necessary. It had suffered from water damage following many years of neglect. After all repairs were carried out the whole carcass had to be stripped. Standard stripper was not used in this instance but the chest was washed in meths and then cleaned down with fine wire wool to remove all the water stains. An initial coat applied by the  french polishers sealed the grain. All repairs were touched in using  water stain, oil stain and spirit stains. The whole item was then bodied up with a rubber using  french polishing with a matting agent. Left for a while to harden off the chest was then cut back and waxed with a tinted wax paste and then buffed up. The brassware was then lightly cleaned with wire wool.

A french polisher would love to work on this table .This particularly pretty early twentieth century dressing table was made by Heals London. Apart from a few small repairs the dressing table was in good condition. The brass casters were very dull and were buffed up along with the turn screws for the mirror. The top of the dressing table had bloomed with a milky colour to it. After unsuccessfully attempting to revive it the only alternative was to strip the top, but only with methylated spirits. The whole table was then clean with solvents which brought out the colour of the boxwood stringing which surrounded the drawers and the top edge. Next the whole item received several coats of french polish. Some touching in was then carried out and the top was given further coats of polish. After allowing time for the polish to harden up the whole table was then dulled down using rotten stone and then waxed to bring out a soft shine. For a piece of early twentieth century furniture this item is particularly pleasing. The construction is of a high quality and the proportions are very good. The top is edged with boxwood as are the drawers. The legs are reeded on the front edge and curve down to a good quality brass caster.

This very attractive Victorian writing slope has been veneered in burr walnut and is decorated with floral marquetry on the top and front. The interior has a leathered slope and various compartments as well as two brass topped ink bottles. after carrying out various repairs the box was cleaned back with wire wool and alcohol. Various Parts were then touched in and the whole was french polished and "warmed up with a drop of spirit stain. The box was then waxed and buffed up with a soft cloth. The interior was repolished in a similar manner.

repolished chair back
re-polished serpantine antique chest
refished and waxed chair
refinished chest from Cornwall
French style dressing table
repaired and french polished

This particularly pleasing Georgian oak dresser needed very little restoration. The whole dresser  was waxed and burnished several times. The brass handles and escutcheons were not cleaned so as to keep the original patination

antique dresser from Cornwall

This particularly nice early Victorian chiffonier was in a very sorry state when it came in to the workshop. The back and base had been eaten by rats and the plinth was crumbling to bits having been attacked by worm. Much of the veneer on the plinth and edge of the top was missing. After replacing the damaged parts and re veneering the plinth, the chiffonier was then stripped and french polishing was carried out, and finally waxed.  

a victorian mahogany sideboard

Suffering from a somewhat abused life this good sized Victorian writing table had two broken legs, various pieces of molding and veneer missing and a very badly worn leather. After repairs were carried out the carcase and drawers were cleaned with solvents prior to polishing. The leather also needed some attention which was remedied with some green spirit stain and then polished and waxed.

library table from the Royal Cornwall Museum

french polishing

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