How to French Polish a Table

Updated February 21, 2017

To achieve the maximum shine and sparkle from your handsome wooden table, you can perform a French polish procedure on it. French polish is a method of polishing that involves embedding pumice into the grain of the wood and covering the table in shellac. The shellac is then rubbed into an even film and left to dry. You finish the polishing off with a healthy layer of wax to bring out all of the natural beauty of wood.

Sand the table with 320-grit sandpaper until it is smooth. This will allow the polish to cling to the table.

Wipe down the table with a mineral-oil-soaked cloth. Immediately clean away the excess oil with a clean cloth.

Pour some alcohol into the core of a French polish rubber and squeeze out the excess.

Shake 4f pumice over the table and rub it into the surface with the alcohol soaked rubber. Add more alcohol to the rubber if it starts to dry out, and keep rubbing until the pumice is absorbed into the table.

Pour a little bit of oil into the rubber if catches on the grain of the table.

Add some shellac to the rubber and sprinkle more pumice over table. Rub the pumice into the table using the shellac. Add oil to the rubber if it starts catching.

Pour some alcohol into a clean rubber and squeeze out the excess.

Rub the table with the alcohol soaked rubber. You want to soak up the oil on the table and spread out the shellac evenly. Stop rubbing the surface when the shellac is in an even film across the table and let it dry overnight.

Apply a coat of paste wax to the dried table with a soft cloth, buffing the surface until the wax disappears and the table is shiny.


Allow plenty of time for rubbing the pumice into the table so you can rest if you have to.


Keep chemicals tightly closed when not is use.

Things You'll Need

  • 320-grit sandpaper
  • Mineral oil
  • Cleaning clothes
  • Alcohol
  • French polish rubbers
  • 4f pumice
  • Shellac
  • Paste wax
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Based in New York, Mary Gonzales has been writing computer- and technology-related articles since 1995. Her work has appeared in “Tech Trends” and “Mac Tips” magazines. Gonzales received the Lilly M. Fuchs Literary Award in 1999. She holds a Bachelor of Science in computer programming from New York University.