French Polishing —
French Polishing is the name given to the process of coating wood with a solution of shellac dissolved in alcohol, using a “rubber” made of rag and cotton wool instead of with a brush. The alcohol evaporates, leaving the shellac deposited upon the wood.
When applied correctly it produces what is possibly the finest looking finish for furniture. Shellac was first introduced into Europe about the 16th Century, but the term FRENCH POLISH was not used until about 1820, when the process was developed by a French cabinet maker.
The 4-page PDF — ‘Guide to French Polishing‘