French Polishing - Roberto-Venn

    roberto venn specialty french polish 1920x700 French Polishing

French Polishing Course

Students will receive lecture, demonstration and hands-on experience with French Polish finishing technique. Course emphasis is on the use of traditional materials, and learning the historical information and techniques necessary to apply an  ‘old world’ French Polish to a premade guitar body, ukulele body, or wood blank. Students will receive a ukulele kit to apply the finish and will keep the kit for future use or as something they can resell.

The first three days students will receive all materials to make a shellac mixture, create a cotton ‘pad’, and learn to use the bottles, eye droppers, and all techniques that are used in the process of French Polishing.  The instructor will demonstrate, and have each student apply a ‘wash coat’, use traditional pore filling techniques utilizing pumice, ‘bodying up’, and applying multiple coats of shellac.  The final day, students will be taught the spiriting techniques used to finalize the French Polish finish.

Cost of workshop includes an instrument kit and all material used in workshop (shellac flakes, alcohol, pad material, olive oil, eye droppers, salt shakers, sand paper, etc.).


Michael Collins graduated from Roberto-Venn in 1992, and worked for seven years building harpsichords and forte pianos with Hubbard Harpsichords in Boston. He built pipe organs for a year, in Canada, while establishing his workshop to build Maccafarri guitars.  Michael has built Maccaferri – gypsy guitars – for the past 10 years and has written a book on the construction of the Maccaferri guitar. Michael often uses the French polish on guitars he builds for various clients.