French Polish

Achieving a professional quality shellac finish applied using the French polish technique is much easier than one might think. This course will show you how to achieve professional results in a fraction of the time traditionally needed.

Buy Now $65.00 31 Lessons 6:10:09

About This Course

Welcome to the Robert O’Brien Online French polish Course. This course is chapter 12 of Robert O’Brien’s Online Classical Guitar Building Course. You can purchase the entire online classical course which includes this chapter or you can purchase just this chapter separately here.

This is not your grandpa’s French polish method. This is a modern day approach to the traditional method of applying shellac known as French polish. It greatly reduces the amount of time needed to French polish your guitar. It also covers surface prep in great detail.

In this 6 hour long course you will learn about:

Acoustically speaking shellac is arguably the best finish available for a musical instrument finish. Follow along as Robert de-mystifies the ancient art of French polish.

I use a technique I learned from Robbie's French polish class. It is the best most repeatable method I have used. If one has the patience a guitar can be polished in a half day that looks good off of the pad. John
See what others are saying


I am a furniture maker and recently purchase your Shellac video class. I tried you process on a jewelry box and I could not be more happy. The results were superb and I thank you for sharing your process. Doug S
If you don’t have Robbie’s course on French polishing, do yourself a favor and get it! Joe in Idaho
Mr. O'Brien's online French polish course, is an incredibly well thought out and put together set of instructions on his methods and materials. The entire process is clearly explained and the because of the excellent video work, you really feel as though you are the room with him. Chris
I would like to express deep gratitude for your French polish course. By far the best result I have been able to get from a fp technique! Thank you for making it available. Ben
I built a new guitar recently with a design I did from scratch. On this guitar I used the directions in your arm bevel video and the directions from your french polish course. Both were great and easy to follow. I watched another builder's french polish course and it was so complicated, I was ready to abandon the idea until I watched yours. Mark in Colorado
You and I did a french polish on my dread last night and it turned out great! I make a pretty decent guitar, but I have been struggling with the finish. This is perfect since it isn't toxic and is not that hard to do, if one follows your video. Yes, you were right there with me via video, step by step. My applicator would even start to grab at the same time as yours in the vid. Happy I bought your video. And as an added bonus, the french polish has left a nice clear polish on my fingernails. This will definitely be the choice of finish going forward. Thanks for putting all of your tips on line and sharing your amazing knowledge. I may have to try the arm bevel soon. Kathy in Colorado
I really liked your teaching style with lots of repetition interspersed with each advancement. I have been looking for years for a finishing method that produces spectacular results. I think I finally found it. I have tried lots of things, some off the shelf and some innovative. The way you have this distilled down to 190 proof is just outstanding. It's very little work and very fast. I never ever would have come up with it on my own. Now I think I can finish the one guitar I have without making big mistakes. Bryan
I purchased your video on French Polishing a guitar. This was the first time I had taken this approach to finishing, and I was extremely please with the results. Jeff
My first attempt at French Polish finish on my third O’Brien classical first cutaway version. Very pleased thus far, the lesson on FP is very good! Robert
After finishing your French Polishing course I took my hand built guitar to a local woodworking store as they wanted to see how the finish had come out. The employees were very complimentary and wanted to know how I had gotten such a nice finish. Chuck
I have purchased and followed you French polishing course and found it to be superb…good course and highly recommended! Mitchell in Scotland
I'm on the home stretch of finishing my first build (A steel string OM type using Robbie's course.). I also opted for the French Polish finish and got Robbie's course on that also. Took me 4 days and I just wrapped up on the finish and I'm happy to report that I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. Jud
After purchasing Robbie's French Polish class during this Covid lockdown, I am a little more than half way through my first attempt. I have tried this off and on for years, never had any luck. But so far, I am loving this technique! Really liking this finish! Phil
Thanks again for this video, it was just what I needed to take my builds to the next level. Phil
I’m wrapping up my second guitar, which I finished following your French Polish method. I’m really happy with the results. That’s for making those videos. Eric
I think Robbie OBrien's DVD French Polish - A Modern Approach, is easy to follow and I am happy with the results that I get. Bruce
I purchased yr French polishing course 2 days ago and spent all day watching it all before having a go. I live in Melbourne Australia. I have made about 20 guitars and mainly applied lacquer finish in past. Thank you for your excellent explanation and demonstration in the course. I will be coming back for more as they are excellent value and i will continue to learn new tricks, and alternative techniques. Frank
French polish. I did Robbie's course and it is excellent. Rob
Since doing your French Polishing course a few years ago, I have tried a few different finishes, but finally settled on FP as my 'forever finish', thanks to you. Robert
Your French polishing course and acoustic building course have been fun and beneficial. I review them a lot. Your French polishing approach has really helped, particularly with soundboard finishing. I learned French polishing from (Well known luthier and finisher), but could never get the technique to work. Bill
I have found your French polishing course great and in the process of finishing 2 steel stings builds. Mo in the UK
I put off any attempt at learning French polishing due to the mystique around it as you mention but you've broken it down nicely. 100% traditional, or otherwise, the results are encouraging and I look forward to being able to share this with my own students in the shorter build courses versus getting into spraying. Mike
I polish all my tops and that normally takes me a week. I bought your video, watched it, just banged out a top that’s as good as anything else I’ve ever made in just under 2 hours. Your technique is gold! Matt
Today I’m working on the finish. Sanded all morning and the French Polishing all afternoon. I love the quiet thought that goes into this finishing technique and am so happy to have learned it from Robbie O’Brien Allen
If any luthiers or craftspeople out there are interested in learning this amazing skill of French polishing (the best finish for musical instruments), I can highly recommend not only this class, but classes, in general, with Robbie O'Brien. All of his material is excellent, of the highest quality, and very entertaining, as well. You will learn a new skill, and have fun at the same time. Christ
I just finished the French Polish course, and want to thank you for sharing that. I've learned/seen other methods, but yours makes so much more sense to me. Thanks again for your help, expertise, and teaching! Shawn
I use a technique I learned from Robbie's French polish class. It is the best most repeatable method I have used. If one has the patience a guitar can be polished in a half day that looks good off of the pad. John
I finished the French polishing technique in your DVD. It’s brilliant and worth every penny. I’ve viewed and re-viewed this course and really found it helpful and my results were fantastic! Barry
Just a note to say THANK YOU for putting together the French polishing course, this will be a game changer! I finished working through the course last month or so, and just had a chance today to finally make a test run on some scrap pieces of back and top. I'm only just past the first level and I can see this is gonna be great in terms of results and even more so in time efficiency. Thanks much! Shawn
I'm very happy with the French polish I get following Robbie's course. Tony
If you are planning on putting multiple layers in a day and get the finish done in 3 or so days, I highly recommend using Robbie's " dry" method. I purchased the course on his website and honestly could not recommend it enough. First time I tried French polish it was a disaster, but I am now on my third guitar with his method, and if you follow it exactly it works. Mo
I'll just add another +1 for Robbie's course. Followed it exactly on attempt #1, was done in 2-3 days, strung up, no imprinting or any finish problems, now a year out. Lamar
I followed Robbie's 'French Polish ' course to the letter and was extremely impressed with the outcome (as was my client). As always, his approach is straight-ahead, no 'fluff' and the process was demystified completely for me. Further, it's nearly a 'real-time' approach in that one could go through the course while working on an instrument (with the added benefit of being able to pause / rewind / revisit as needed. I've now done several instruments this way and have been impressed w/ how forgiving and simple it is. Mike
Big thanks for all you do for the luthier community - I’ve learned so much from your videos over the years. BTW, your French Polish video was a breakthrough for me, I use your technique on all my instruments. Mike
I just bought your French polishing video (its great, thanks) You've got an accessible approach and its great to actually see how to do it - and it looks freakin great. Clay
Your online French Polish class is really great. I’ve made leaps and bounds after watching your videos! Matthew's Guitar Company
French Polish
Lesson 1: Finishing Overview 0:49
Lesson 2: Rounding over Bindings 15:12
Lesson 3: Intro to Sanding 2:56
Lesson 4: Gap Filling 7:03
Lesson 5: Sanding the Peghead 13:32
Lesson 6: Sanding the Neck 6:17
Lesson 7: Sanding the Body 9:39
Lesson 8: Masking 15:33
Lesson 9: Shellac Seal Coat 7:13
Lesson 10: Intro to pore Filling 7:50
Lesson 11: Pore Filling 14:26
Lesson 12: Sanding the Pore Fill 9:33
Lesson 13: Sealing the pore fill 4:48
Lesson 14: Pore Filling the Neck 11:06
Lesson 15: Top Prep 11:10
Lesson 16: Mixing Shellac 12:05
Lesson 17: French polish technique - Sealing 21:20
Lesson 18: French polish technique - Polishing 27:13
Lesson 19: French polish technique - Leveling and more polishing 24:31
Lesson 20: Spiriting off 14:13
Lesson 21: French polishing the sides 28:28
Lesson 22: Fixing Dents 5:34
Lesson 23: Spiriting off the side 12:39
Lesson 24: French polishing the other side 10:13
Lesson 25: French polishing the top 20:56
Lesson 26: French polishing the top (cont.) 19:56
Lesson 27: Finishing the Neck 23:30
Lesson 28: Finishing the Peghead 11:38
Lesson 29: Rubbing Out the Finish 11:14
Lesson 30: Polishing problem areas 2:23
Lesson 31: Finishing Conclusion 1:29