How to Make a High-Gloss Finish While Turning on a Lathe with Friction Polish
posted on February 1, 2010 by Rob Johnstone
A collection of finish polishing products There are a lot of good friction polishes that create a nice, clear finish on both natural wood and wood that's already been stained.

I just can’t deny it — I am an instant gratification sort of woodworker. So, when I am looking for a clear finish on my turned pieces — and I predominantly turn bowls — I almost always reach for a friction polish. They are easy to apply, build up quickly and look great.

What’s a Friction Polish?
Apply friction polish to a bowl while turning on a lathe Apply the friction polish to your bowl as it turns on the lathe, here, the friction and turning motion will help spread and polish the piece.

A friction polish is designed to be applied to wood and then burnished to make the product flow — to be smoothed out over the prepared surface. Burnishing (rubbing vigorously with a cloth or piece of ultra-fine steel wool) can be hard work on a flat piece of wood. But it’s pretty easy if the wood is spinning on a lathe. For that reason, friction polish is a real favorite for turners. Common formulas for friction polish feature a combination of shellac and a wax of some type. They can be formulated in a liquid or found in bar form — like the widely used HUT™ Products Bar.

Just Do It
Creating a high-gloss finish with friction polish The friction polish, once it is applied, will create a very high gloss finish on both fresh pieces, like this maple bowl, and pre-stained woods.

There are a couple of ways to apply a liquid friction polish. You can wipe on a light coat while the piece is stationary on the lathe (or off of the tool), then spin the piece and use a cloth dampened with the polish to smooth out and flow the finish evenly across the piece. This is an instance where light applications are better than heavy coats.

As a “plunge right in there” type, I prefer the second method: applying the finish with a soft cloth right to the spinning bowl. I use a moderately fast speed and just wipe it on. I like to have a strong directional light aimed at the piece, so I can see the change as I apply the product.

Different brands of friction polish vary a bit as to the proper mode of application — so read their instructions and experiment in order to get your best results.

posted on February 1, 2010 by Rob Johnstone
previous post next post
Comments

What People are Saying:

I have been ordering from Rockler for almost 20 years and have found their products to be very inexpensive and of high quality. Shipping is fast even when an item is back ordered. The best prices I have found anywhere."

- Orval - 08/07/2012

What People are Saying:

I have been ordering from Rockler for almost 20 years and have found their products to be very inexpensive and of high quality. Shipping is fast even when an item is back ordered. The best prices I have found anywhere."

- Orval - 08/07/2012
Feedback X