Domestic and Commercial polishing specialists in Kent

Hello – my name is Mark O’Callaghan and I would like to welcome you to our website!

I always think it is best to introduce MYself to a client so that they can understand who I am before they meet me in person.

I started French Polishing at the age of 14 as a Saturday boy for my mentor Bryan Stoner, learning antique restoration and French Polishing. Working with him through my summer holidays I was lucky to have the opportunity to work with fine furniture and visit grand houses and prestigious hotels.

Bryan said I had a good eye for colour which inspired me to learn more, reading books on the subject and practicing in my spare time. When I left school at 16, I started working with Bryan full time, which I did for two years until he decided to downsize.

At this stage I started working for Gavin Masson Furniture in Tunbridge Wells, learning how to make and polish reproduction furniture using modern spray techniques. Each piece was specifically finished to the client’s requirements – and I have even had to repolish one of the tables I had made twenty years earlier for a private client (it was nice to see my initials in the table base!).

Subsequently, I started sub-contracting from different firms in London and surrounding areas, both spraying and French Polishing, in prestigious properties like The Lanesborough hotel when it was transformed from St George’s hospital, and Sandy Lane in Barbados on its major refurbishment.

At 28 I started my own business, and Wood Beauticians was born. It was once said to me “If you enjoy your job, you will never work a day in your life”, and although running your own business isn’t a walk in the park, the job is a joy and I’ve never looked back!

Creating bespoke colours, custom finishes, and colour matching new to old wood are all part of the job, where every day I rise to the challenge trying to achieve the perfect finish for my ever-expanding client base.

Thank you for popping by, see you soon!

Mark O’Callaghan

Traditional French Polishing

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Spray Finishing

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Commercial Spraying

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alchemy range

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Traditional French Polishing

French Polishing is a technique of applying shellac-based polish to woodwork by hand that has been passed down through generations of master craftsmen. Using a rubbing pad to apply thin coats of shellac to the wood, this is considered to be the most beautiful way to finish a piece of furniture because of the depth and clarity it gives to the wood it is applied to.

This process of furniture polishing is mainly associated with antique furniture, high quality joinery, paneling and staircases, where the item would be sanded and prepared to remove blemishes in the substrate then stained and the grain filled with a coloured grain filler. The final stage would be the French Polishing itself.

The benefits of French Polishing are that new polish can be applied to old, so if you have a heat or water mark it can be polished out and the new and old polish will knit together. You will always be adding to the finish, rather than modern lacquer that once damaged has to be stripped off then started again.

Traditionally French Polishing was not always as hardy as modern lacquers, showing heat marks (white bloom) and not being resilient to alcohol (because methylated spirit is its thinning agent). This has changed with the introduction of Heat Resistant French polish – a chemically modified polish which is very good for dining tables and pianos.

We will always advise clients on the best finish for an item, taking into consideration the age of the piece (antique furniture should always be French polished if it was originally) and what the item is being used for.

  • Antique Furniture
  • High quality joinery
  • Paneling
  • Staircases
  • Dining tables
  • Pianos

Spray finishing/polishing has been around since the 1930’s when mass production first came into place. It uses nitrocellulose lacquer because it was considered harder than French Polishing and quicker to apply. The development of spray lacquer has come on quite a way since then with the introduction of A/C (acid catalyst two component), then on to the polyurethane and polyester which are considered more of a sprayable resin.

Modern lacquers are suitable for heavy-duty use, enabling modern furniture to cope with modern life. They are heat and water resistant (but don’t put a hot saucepan on the finish!), and these finishes are also used on commercial properties (office doors, reception desks, work desks, pub bars etc.) We can also use water based polyurethane lacquers when needed, for exterior and interior finishes or to match in with existing finishes.

Polyurethane lacquers can be pigmented to have a colour, so they be made to match BS and RAL, paint colours made by Dulux, Crown, Farrow & Ball etc, or even colour matched to any colour you like.

We can spray onto virtually every substrate – wood, MDF, plastic, glass & metal – in any sheen level, from matt through to high gloss. We even do an Ultra High Gloss where the finish is polished to a mirror finish.

  • Heavy duty use
  • Furniture
  • Commercial properties
  • Doors
  • Desks
  • Pub bars
  • Wood, MDF, plastic, glass, metal
Spray Finishing
Commercial Spraying

We offer an on-site commercial spraying service applying finishes to many different substrates for clients up and down the UK. We also carry out international work when needed.

There is wide range of commercial services available, and we have worked on a huge variety of projects – such as spraying new and existing shop fronts, shopping centre metalwork, bars at Aintree racecourse, on site spray on projects in Lyon, Paris & Le Mans, and refinishing pubs and bars with special effects and industrial grade finishes. We also offer finishes for exhibition stands and specialty events.

Our custom-made Alchemy range of liquid metal can coat many different substrates with a veneer of metal. Developed by us over six years to perfect our technique, once applied the finished item has the feel of real metal and can be aged or have effects added, or it can be mixed to the clients specification to create a one-off, bespoke finish.

Our base selection of finishes are copper, brass, bronze, iron, gunmetal & aluminium, which can all be mixed, aged, colour-washed or oxidised to create amazing effects for that one off discussion piece.

Alchemy Range

For high-quality wood and metal finishing services in Kent, why not get in touch with us today!

Feel free to send us a message using our form below, give us a call on 01892 689979 or 07796 377242

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