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A. Schuyler
A. Schuyler, Research Analyst
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Experience:  30 years in research
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I put some French polish into a bowl and cannot get it off.

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I put some French polish into a bowl and cannot get it off. I've tried turpentine, white spirit and nail varnish remover but none of them works. Can you help?


Welcome and thanks for your question. Can you tell me what you mean by "French polish?"


I am familiar with the furniture finishing technique called French polish, but not with any particular polish called "French polish."




Looking forward to hearing from you,



Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I bought "French polish" in a tin. It contains shellac.



Cherry Kane

Hi, Cherry,


The medium used in the French polishing technique is shellac dissolved in alcohol. It can be dissolved in an alkaline solution. Things to try (in order) would be ammonia, sodium borate (Borax), sodium carbonate (washing soda or soda ash). You can buy these at the home improvement store (Lowe's, Home Depot). Sodium hydroxide should also work but be very careful with it to avoid burns. Be sure to use gloves when dealing with any of the solvents.


All the best,




A. Schuyler and 32 other General Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks very much - I will try these to see if they work.

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