How to espalier a tree

How to Espalier Fruit Trees

The art of espalier is all about selectively pruning and training to a desired shape. Follow these steps and learn how to espalier fruit trees.

The origins of espalier

Espalier is the ancient horticultural art of pruning and training a tree or shrub to grow flat against a support, creating a living sculpture. According to American Garden History, espalier was originally used to create outdoor "walls" in Europe during the Middle Ages and was also planted in interior courtyard walls to prevent late frost bud-kill. Other records show this technique dates back to ancient Egypt, where hieroglyphs of espaliered fig trees have been found in tombs dating back to 1400 B.C. The French word "espalier" (ess-PAL-yay) was originally a noun that referred to the trellis or support upon which the tree was grown; today, it refers to the technique itself. Why espalier? Well, there really isn't a reason not to try espalier. Just a few of the benefits include:

  • Homegrown fruit from a narrow space
  • Very easy picking, no ladder needed
  • A striking bit of garden artistry that will have your neighbors talking

Which fruit trees espalier best?

Apple and pear are the usual choices. Apple trees are a little easier because new stems don't harden as quickly as pear trees, and are therefore a little more forgiving when you go to bend them toward your support wires. Peaches and pomegranates also espalier well. You can try your hand at espaliering any variety of fruit tree, as long as the fruit tree suits your climate, but dwarf or semi-dwarf trees are best for small spaces. Since apple trees are a common choice for espalier, note that spur-bearing apple trees are even better if you want more fruit from your living fence. And, if you're only planting one tree, make sure it's a self-pollinating variety like Stark® Jon-A-Red Jonathan apple or Starkspur® Golden Delicious apple so you're sure to get fruit. You can espalier peach trees as seen in this example from D. Reyné!

Where to Plant Your Espaliered Tree

Location is key. You will need about 8 feet of linear space in a well-drained spot that gets full sun. Full sun means the tree will receive at least six hours of light per day. Espaliered trees can be grown:

  • Against a wall (usually brick or stucco)
  • Along a fence, trellis or pergola
  • Across a set of sturdy free-standing posts and horizontal wires (as many wine grapes are grown)

How to Create a Classic Three-Tier Cordon

As we mentioned earlier, apple trees are easy to train to espalier, so we'll use apple trees in this example. There are four basic espalier forms (see diagram) but for purposes of this example, we'll describe how to form the three-tier horizontal cordon. The three-tier cordon is quite a simple technique; it just requires a little know-how and a few years of patience as the trees grow into it. You will need:

  • Your chosen apple tree: bare-root, any height (unbranched whips are ideal)
  • Compost
  • Wire cutter
  • Pliers
  • Drill with a 3-16" drill bit
  • Digging shovel
  • Pruning shears
  • Stretchy plant ties or pantyhose, cut into strips
  • Pencil or chalk
  • Yardstick or measuring tape
  • 12-gauge wire (about 28 feet total)
  • 3/16" eye bolts (use 3-16" wall mounts on masonry)


  1. Choose your location (see tips above).
  2. Measure 4 feet up from the soil (final tree height) and center the spot on the wall or support. Chalk a vertical line (the “trunk”) from your centered spot to the ground.
  3. Along your vertical “trunk line,” mark a spot 16 inches from the ground (the first branch tier), and repeat twice. You will now have a 4-foot vertical line with three spots marked on it at 16-inch intervals.
  4. Now mark out the tree width. Begin at the first 16-inch tier mark on the "trunk" and measure 3-1/2 feet on both the right and left of the trunk. Repeat for the second and third tiers, then draw horizontal lines from point to point. What you should see is a single 4-foot vertical line intersected by three horizontal lines, 16 inches apart and 7 feet wide.
  5. Install the eyebolts or wall mounts to the wall/support. A bolt should be placed on the "trunk line" at ground level and where the first, second and third tiers cross. Also attach bolts to each end of each of the 3 horizontal lines.
  6. Thread wire through the eyebolts following the pattern drawn on the wall, both vertical and horizontal. Twist the wire at the ends to secure it, and snip.
  7. Now it’s time to plant your tree. In spring or fall, dig a hole in front of the vertical wire that is 12-14 inches wide and equally deep. Mix half of the shoveled-out soil with compost. Position the tree whip in the hole so that the crown sits at soil level. Remember to position it 4-5 inches from the wall with a bud just above the first-tier guide wire.
  8. Backfill the hole with the soil/compost mixture and water in well.
  9. Attach the trunk to the vertical wire, somewhere below the first-tier horizontal wire, with a stretchy plant tie to avoid bark damage.
  10. Take a deep breath and top the center trunk by making a cut about 1-2 inches above the first-tier wire, right above a bud. Make sure there are at least three buds below this one. This action will force the tree to send out branches at or near the first-tier height.
  11. During the first season, let the buds grow into new shoots. Pick the three sturdiest ones and prune off the rest. When the shoots are 3-4 inches long, gently bend and tie one to the lowest right-side horizontal wire and another shoot to the left. Your tree should now look like a lower-case "t".
  12. Don't let the center trunk grow more than 6” over the first tier. Snip it back as the horizontal branches grow to keep it in check.
  13. When the first-tier branches have grown three-quarters of the way to the end of their support wire, allow the central trunk to grow to the second tier and start the process again.
Repeat once more until you have three tiers, each about 7 feet long from end to end.
Some examples of fruit trees trained to tiered, horizontal cordons:

These photos of espaliered fruit trees were shared with us by our customers, Timoti B. and Michael M.!

How and When to Prune Your Espaliered Fruit Tree

You may need to prune two or three times per season to keep the tree in shape. The first pruning should be after it blooms in the spring. The flowers will indicate where the fruit will be, and you can prune accordingly. (Always use very sharp, clean shears that have been dipped in diluted bleach solution, or wiped down thoroughly with an alcohol wipe, rinsed and dried after each use to prevent potential disease spread. ) While it usually takes about four years to get the full artistic effect of your efforts, you may actually see fruit as soon as the second year... but if you want the most from your espaliered tree, remove that developing fruit for a year or two. Then keep an eye on it, nipping off vertical shoots, and removing suckers and water sprouts. Shorten the horizontal branches to encourage the development of a fruiting spur. Because there will be more fruiting spurs produced along the horizontal branches than the vertical trunk, eventually you will have many fruits setting on your espaliered tree, so make sure your support is strong. » Looking for more information on pruning espaliered fruit trees? Our Pruning Made Easy book provides instructions and tips on how to achieve a successful espalier design.

Watering and fertilizing espaliered trees

The young tree needs the equivalent of about a gallon of water every 7-10 days until it's established. If you find that rain is keeping your tree watered, you don't need to provide any additional water. Just step in when Mother Nature leaves you dry. Find more advice on watering fruit trees here. Just like with a fruit tree growing naturally, you can apply a specially-formulated fertilizer for fruit trees as needed during the growing season. Follow the directions on the package so as not to burn the young tree roots. Find tips on fertilizing wisely here. The reward of your patience, persistence and attention to detail will provide you not only with a fine fruit crop, but with a rather spectacular living sculpture that will set your fruit garden far apart from the ordinary!

View Stark Bro's Pinterest Board: Fruit Tree Espalier »

How to Espalier a Fruit Tree

I’ll admit that at first the idea of backing a tree up against a wall, flattening it into a single plane occupying a mere few inches, and then training branches to grow outward instead of upward seemed rather silly. Why would anyone need to know how to espalier a fruit tree? Why wouldn’t you plant a tree with the intent of having it grow large and full? 

And then, I started learning more about the art/practice of espaliering trees and may have spent some time in my backyard this morning scouting sections where I could try it myself! If you have no idea what an espaliered tree is, no worries. Many people don’t. In this case, an old practice dating back all the way to the ancient Egyptians is making a big comeback. 

Espaliered trees — trees pruned to occupy just one plane — have come into favor again as homeowners and gardeners look for ways to grow trees in small spaces or create a living (and often delicious) fence or privacy screen. It is one of several advanced tree-training techniques collectively known as arborsculpture.

Let’s get espaliered:

Basic Espalier Forms

There are a handful of basic espalier (es-PAL-yer OR es-pal-YAY) forms to choose from, with the following four the most commonly used. The forms vary in the amount of time and work it takes to create the desired shape.

The basic framework of simple designs may be established in three or four years, while intricate designs will take longer.

  • Horizontal cordon: The most common framework, a central trunk is grown with lateral branches growing outward horizontally. A 3-tier design is the most common.
  • Candelabra: A low horizontal branch comes off the central trunk, with vertical branches growing upward at regular intervals to create a candelabra shape.
  • Belgian lattice: Also known as the Belgian fence, three or more V-shaped espaliers are woven together to create a lattice effect. The trees on either end are modified to maintain the intended finished edge.
  • Fan: A central trunk has branches angling out at 45-degree angles to create a fan shape.

How to Espalier a Tree

How to Espalier a Tree

  • Choosing a Tree
  • Selecting a Planting Site
  • Building a Support Structure
  • Equipment
  • Building the Structure
  • Planting Your Tree

Before you get started on espaliering a tree, it’s important to understand this process is time-consuming and takes a lot of time and dedication. These trees aren’t any less work than growing trees traditionally.

It’s best to start this process in early spring with a bare root specimen.

Choosing a Tree

Regardless of if you opt to espalier apple trees, another fruiting variety, or an ornamental, keep in mind a couple of things when purchasing a tree:

  • When choosing trees, a dwarf tree or semi-dwarf variety works the best because of their naturally shorter stature. It’s also best to choose a fast-growing specimen as this will make the training process quicker and easier.
  • Young saplings that are only 1 or 2 years old work best. Their limbs are still quite pliable compared to an older tree.
  • If you are planting a fruit tree, opt for self-pollinating types of fruit trees if you are only planting one. If planting an apple, choose apple trees that are spur-bearing since they produce more fruit.

Selecting a Planting Site

Look for a spot in your yard that receives full sunlight at least 6 to 8 hours a day (more if you are planting a fruit tree), and has at least 6 to 8 feet of open linear space for your espalier design.

You want the soil to drain well, and optimally have a soil pH between 6.0 and 7.5.

Building a Support Structure

A horizontally trained espalier tree against an existing wall. Credit: “Espaliered Fruit Tree,”
Photo Credit: Muffinn / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

In order to train your tree to grow in the desired shape, you need to have a support structure in place until the tree matures enough so the wood hardens. This support structure can be:

  • Against a wall, typically brick or stucco as they are more resistant to weathering and damage than walls of your home that have vinyl or aluminum siding.
  • Along an established fence, a pergola, or trellis, or trellises that are already in your yard.
  • Across a structure composed of sturdy, free-standing posts and horizontal wires similar to how the majority of wine grapes are grown.

Before even planting your tree, this support structure needs to be constructed. As many homeowners choose to espalier trees against a wall or along a fence, the following directions are tailored to those two situations. I’m also going to describe how to build a 3-tier horizontal cordon, as they are the most common.


To build the structure you will need:

  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil or chalk
  • Drill with a 3/16” bit (masonry bit if you are building against a brick or stucco wall)
  • 3/16” eye bolts (or wall mounts on masonry)
  • 12-gauge wire
  • Wire cutter
  • Pliers
  • Eye protection
  • Heavy-duty gloves

Building the Structure

  1. Take measurements: Determine the approximate center spot of the open linear space in the intended location. Measure 4 feet up from the soil surface. Draw a line from the soil to the 4-foot point, using a pencil or chalk. This is where the central trunk of your tree will grow.
  2. Mark the tiers: Along this vertical line, make marks at 16-inch intervals to create three evenly spaced tiers. At the first 16” mark measure outward 3½ feet in both directions to create the first tier, marking these horizontal lines. Repeat for the second and third tiers.
  3. Install eye bolts along the center: Now that the basic outline is in place, don your eye protection and work gloves and break out the tools. Using your drill, install eye bolts along the central trunk at ground level and where each of the three tiers intersects. 

Note: The opening on the eye bolts should be 4″ to 6” from the wall or trellis once installed. This allows the tree room to grow, promotes air circulation, and allows you to access the wall to perform maintenance if necessary.

  1. Install eye bolts horizontally: Again, using your drill, install eye bolts at each end of the three horizontal tiers.
  2. Thread wire through the bolts: Starting from the base of the central trunk, thread wire through the four eye bolts creating the vertical structure. Twist the wire using pliers at either end to secure it, and then snip with a wire cutter.
  3. Repeat the process to thread wire vertically, creating the individual tiers.

Planting Your Tree

Graft Union
Photo Credit: Malcolm Manners / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

After you have the support/wire structure in place you can go ahead and plant your tree. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to do so:

  1. Dig a hole that is slightly bigger than the root system on your tree, about 4 inches out from your structure. Using a sturdy digging shovel (I prefer one with a pointed center) if you can. Aim for a hole that is about two to three times as wide as the roots and only 2 to 3 inches deeper, regardless if you are planting bare-root or a container tree.
  2. Place the root ball in the planting hole so the graft union — the visible spot where the rootstock was grafted to the fruit tree —  is slightly above the soil surface line. A good way to ensure this is to lay a piece of lumber, a bamboo cane, or a fence post across the top of the hole to give you a visual indicator of ground level when the hole is filled in.
  3. Begin filling in under the roots until it rests, unassisted, in the bottom of the hole. Once the tree rests in the hole, spread the roots out evenly and begin the process of filling in the rest of the hole.
  4. Gently tamp the soil down with your foot as you fill the hole in, trying to remove all air pockets, without compacting the soil around the roots. Create a slight bowl or depression as you reach the top of the hole to allow water to settle naturally around the tree. Make sure you do not mound soil up around the trunk.

Pro Tip: Water thoroughly throughout this process to ensure there are no air pockets.

How to Care for an Espaliered Tree

Train and Prune

Espaliering has been practiced for many years. This is a detail on pruning an espalier tree from an 1859 book, “The gardener’s assistant; a practical and scientific exposition of the art of gardening in all its branches.”

Now that your tree is planted, it’s time to work on training your tree into your chosen espalier shape.

The principle behind espaliering a tree is simple: Plants have a main growing point or stem, known as a leader. If you remove this leader, shoots emerge from buds found on the sides of the stem, and below the cut. 

You then choose the best side shoots to guide/train them to create the boughs of your espalier tree. The topmost shoot becomes the new leader and will eventually become the trunk. As the desired pattern emerges, you will want to regularly prune the new growth that takes away from your desired shape. You want to keep the plant low-growing.

5 Steps for Pruning an Espaliered Fruit Tree

The following instructions are for training and pruning a fruit tree such as an apple or pear tree.

  1. Attach the trunk of the tree to the vertical wire below the first tier using plant ties, rubber grafting bands, or stretchy strips of rags.
  2. Prune the center trunk about 1-2 inches above the first tier using a heading cut while making sure there are at least three buds below the cut.
  3. Select the two healthiest shoots to attach to the bottom-most horizontal tier as the tree comes out of dormancy the first year and begins to grow. 
  4. Keep trimming the vertical growth of the tree to about 6 inches above the first tier to force horizontal growth until the horizontal branches grow to about three-fourths of the length of the support wires.
  5. Regularly remove suckers that grow straight up from the lateral branches. Prune off extra spurs, the stubbier shoots, leaving one every 6-inches. As the spurs grow, prune them so they only have three leaves.
  6. In the second year, you should have enough growth along the first horizontal tier to begin on the second. Allow the vertical trunk growth to come up above the second junction. Follow the same procedure you did with the first, training the two healthiest shoots along the support wire.
  7. In the third year, repeat the process to create the third tier.
  8. As your tree is growing, prune offshoots along the horizontal branches to about 4-5 inches in length. Prune any suckers (the new growth near the trunk of the tree) or water sprouts that grow. Prune off growth along the vertical trunk. Remove any fruit that develops during the first four years.
  9. Once your espaliered fruit tree reaches the desired height and width, switch to maintenance pruning. You want to keep your horizontal shoots at the proper length and any offshoots shorter to maintain separation between the tiers. Pruning the tips of the horizontal shoots will encourage more spurs to grow and develop fruit.


How to water new fruit trees: Generally, new fruit trees should be watered heavily in the first few weeks after planting. Apply 2 to 5 gallons of water per tree each week. During the growing season, when there is less than one inch of rainfall, apply 5 gallons of water around the base of the tree every week.

Do not over-water young trees. Their roots are not yet established and they are more susceptible to flooding.

How to water 2 to 5-year-old fruit trees: Watering fruit trees that are 2 to 5 years old will depend on the type of soil, the type of tree, and the type of climate you live in. As a general rule, fruit trees in sandy soil need 2-3 inches of water every 10-14 days. If you have clay soil, 2-3 inches every 15-20 days should do the trick.

Pro Tip:  For new and established trees, water slowly so that water penetrates the soil enough to soak into the roots.


How to fertilize fruit trees: Now that your fruit trees are well watered, you might decide it’s time to fertilize. But wait — not all trees need fertilizer. Some soils lack certain minerals while others have them in abundance (ex. phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and boron). Before you go crazy with fertilizer, test your soil to get a better understanding of what it needs. 

Aside from a soil test, there are many factors that determine how much and how often you should be fertilizing fruit trees, such as age and the previous year’s growth. 

  • If you fertilize when you plant your tree, pay attention to the growth over the next few years. If there is adequate growth on the tree, you won’t need to add any more fertilizer for a few years.
  • A young fruit tree that isn’t old enough to produce fruit should be showing 15-30 inches of new growth each year. A tree producing fruit should be averaging 8-15 inches of growth a year. Anything less than this might warrant some fertilizer. 
  • For fruit trees that do need extra minerals, a balanced fertilizer should do the trick. Use 1 pound of fertilizer (10-10-10) for each year of a tree’s age (a 5-year-old tree should get 5 pounds of fertilizer).

Note: Do not exceed 10 pounds per tree.

When to fertilize fruit trees? If your soil requires fertilizer, apply in the spring. Don’t fertilize too late in the season, though, as this may lessen the tree’s winter hardiness. Always read the fertilizer label and plant information before fertilizing. If in doubt, contact your local Cooperative Extension office for more information.

Benefits of Espaliered Trees

Photo Credit: Leonora (Ellie) Enking / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

It takes time and dedication to espalier a tree, but many believe it is well spent, as the end result is a beautiful, decorative accent in your landscape. An added bonus? If You choose to espalier a fruit tree, you can literally pick the fruits of your labor.

While it may seem counterintuitive to plant a tree and then prune it so you are only growing a limited “slice” of the canopy versus the whole tree, there are some prominent benefits to this type of arborsculpture.

  1. Bring fruit down to eye level, making it easier to harvest ripened fruit than a traditional tree.
  2. Take up far less space, so this is greatly beneficial for homeowners with small spaces or limited garden space.
  3. Create a microclimate: South-facing walls provide shelter from the elements. The wall also reflects heat throughout the day from the sun, generating a microclimate of sorts. This allows gardeners to plant trees that may be slightly out of their hardiness growing zone.
  4. Sunlight penetrates through the canopy more efficiently, leading to better fruit ripening.

What Fruit Trees Are Good for Espalier

Photo Credit: Leonora (Ellie) Enking / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Apple, crabapple, and pear trees are the typical choices but many fruit trees work well to espalier. Apple and pear are traditionally used because their fruiting spurs can produce fruit for many years and the branches are quite pliable when the trees are young, allowing you to train them into the espalier shapes.

The following cultivars are some of the more popular apple, crabapple, and pear trees.

Apple (Malus cv.):

  • Arkansas black
  • Red Delicious
  • Golden Delicious
  • Liberty
  • Freedom
  • Empire

Ornamental Crabapple (Malus cv.):

  • White Cascade
  • Prairiefire
  • Golden raindrops

Pear (Pyrus cv.):

  • Kieffer
  • Magnus
  • Bartlett
  • Red sensation Bartlett
  • Harrow’s delight

If you’re looking for fruit trees besides these options, the following also work well: pomegranate, fig, cherries, lemon, orange, tangerine, nectarine, apricots, plum, and peaches.

What Other Plants Are Good for Espalier?

Japanese Maple Tree Leaves
Photo Credit: C Watts / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Sometimes people opt to go with a non-fruiting tree to espalier. Fortunately, almost any tree or ornamental shrub that has a climbing nature or long, pliable stems/branches can be espaliered against a trellis.

Some good ornamental choices include:

  • Magnolia
  • Rose of Sharon
  • Bougainvillea
  • Camellias
  • Cotoneaster
  • Forsythia
  • Flowering quince
  • Gingko
  • Japanese maple
  • Viburnum

FAQ About Espalier

Can You Espalier any Fruit Tree?

Yes, all fruit trees can be espaliered. Fruit trees with fruit on long-lived spurs and easy-to-trim branches are easiest. Trees with naturally spreading branches work best as well. There are a few popular fruit tree options that are proven to work well in this form:

• Apple
• Pear
• Fig
• Peaches
• Cherry
• Pomegranate

If you can’t get enough of this space-saving method, here’s good news: Just about any flexible, woody plant with branches can be espaliered.

Can You Espalier a Mature Fruit Tree?

Technically yes, but it’s more difficult, and requires more time. It’s best to espalier when a fruit tree is in its first or second year. Older, more mature trees are difficult to train and shape. It can take up to three years to bend mature branches. Whether on young or older trees, espalier pruning can take 5-10 years to reach a finished design.

How Long Do Espalier Trees Live?

There are some espaliered apple trees still producing fruit after 150 years. When looked after properly, espaliered trees can have an incredibly long lifespan. The strong branches are less likely to break, which accounts for the tree’s longevity. 

Having the branches so spread out also helps the airflow in the tree and, therefore, means fewer insect and disease problems. A spaced-out branch structure also makes finding and dealing with diseased branches faster and more manageable.

When to Call the Professionals

Fruit trees can look magnificent when espaliered. But nothing worth doing is ever easy. That’s no different with these beautiful, yet intricate, espalier designs. If you get to a point in this process where you have bitten off more than you can chew, consider calling in a tree care professional. 

Even if you’ve gotten through the years of pruning and are finally able to enjoy the design you worked so hard to create, tree care can still be a pain. Let the pros deal with the upkeep while you enjoy the appearance and productivity of your espaliered fruit tree.


Solovchenko, A. E., Avertcheva, O. V., & Merzlyak, M. N. (2006). Elevated sunlight promotes ripening-associated pigment changes in apple fruit. Postharvest Biology and Technology, 40(2), 183-189.

Additional Sources: Fine Gardening, University of Wisconsin, University of Illinois, University of Florida

Main Image Credit: Ellen Thompson / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Amanda Shiffler

Most comfortable with soil under her fingernails, Amanda has an enthusiasm for gardening, agriculture, and all things plant-related. With a master's degree in agriculture and more than a decade of experience gardening and tending to her lawn, she combines her plant knowledge and knack for writing to share what she knows and loves.

Posts by Amanda Shiffler

Polishing wood at home with a solution of shellac and alcohol, oil or waxes

Wood, as one of the most popular materials for the manufacture of furniture, requires a special finish that will emphasize its natural beauty, will extend the service life of .

This process is called polishing. Of course, he is difficult to perform , takes a lot of time, and all actions must be done very carefully. Despite the difficulties, wood polishing allows you to create glossy surface , the main thing is to know the intricacies of the process.

Don't forget to share with your friends!

Content of Article

  • What is polishing
  • What breeds can be polished
  • for polishing wooden products
  • Stages of work
    • Grinding
    • Grunning
    • Population
    • Population
    • 900 900

    What is polishing

    Polished wood retains its natural color and acquires the mirror finish . For polishing, it is necessary to apply a special compound to the wood several times, which is called polish. Unlike alcohol-based varnish, polish contains three times less resins, which makes it possible to obtain a thinner and more transparent decorative coating.

    The technology for creating beautiful textures requires high-quality surface preparation, in particular grinding and removing fluff, dust particles . Then the wood is treated with a primer emulsion, polished, and the final step is polishing.

    Which types of wood can be polished

    It should be noted right away that not all breeds of are suitable for polishing . For example, loose wood is difficult to polish.

    Polishing more effectively dense rocks:

    • mahogany;
    • birch;
    • boxwood;
    • walnut;
    • pear;
    • hornbeam;
    • apple tree;
    • maple.

    The beautiful texture of after polishing is given to beech wood, although it is difficult to polish. Oak is distinguished by its sponginess, which is why it is also difficult to polish. Pine is rarely polished due to the looseness of the wood, it is mainly sanded and varnished.

    Wood Polishing Compounds

    The market offers a fairly wide range of products designed for the treatment of wood products. You can buy the composition already in finished form at any specialized outlet, if desired, it can be made at home based on varnish or wax.

    To prepare a working mixture for polishing wood with your own hands, you will need crushed shellac resin in the amount of 60 g and 0.5 l of alcohol. The components are mixed in a glass container, closed tightly with a lid, stirred periodically so that the shellac is completely dissolved. After that, the working fluid is filtered and poured into a clean container.

    For finishing children's furniture, tableware it is more expedient to use drying oil or wax paste . It is prepared from wax, turpentine (solvent) in a ratio of 1:1. First, the main component is heated in a container in a water bath, and then a solvent is added to it. To achieve a homogeneous consistency, the mixture must be constantly stirred. A felt swab is suitable for working with wax. This is a safe type of wood polish that does not emit harmful substances and is absolutely harmless.

    If you have lacquered wood furniture in your home and need to freshen it up, you can use wood polish aerosol or liquid. In this case, compositions with silicones give a good effect.

    Please note! Furniture polishing wax is applied to unvarnished wood.

    You can make a polish from Olive Oil (2 parts) and Lemon Juice (1 part or less). The products must be mixed and applied from a spray bottle to lacquered furniture or by dipping a cloth into the polish.

    Also prepare polish from turpentine and beeswax , taking them in equal quantities, heating in a water bath and mixing. Furniture is polished with uniform movements to a shine, paying attention to all the bends and nooks and crannies.

    Stages of work

    Wood polishing process consists of several stages. In order for the surface to look perfect after polishing, it must first be sanded, then coated with primer and only then carefully polished.

    Surface grinding

    This procedure does not cause any particular difficulties, but takes a lot of time to give the tree a perfect look.

    The surface must be free of chips, burrs, cracks and other defects. The wood is first sanded with #46-60 sandpaper, then with #80-100 sandpaper and finally sanded with #140-170 sandpaper.

    Wood after sanding becomes clean, smooth, free of protruding fibers and fluff .


    At this stage the prepared wood is primed with shellac polish and linen swab . It is not recommended to use cotton, woolen fabrics for these purposes, they leave behind small fibers, villi, which are clearly visible on the polished product.

    To apply the primer, take a small amount of polish onto a swab and start rubbing in different directions. With this approach, small cracks and pores are most effectively filled, impregnation occurs better.

    Please note! First make a smear on a test surface. The polish should dry quickly and not form bubbles. If there is a lot of it, then the excess is removed by wiping the test surface.

    The primed product is left to dry for 2-3 days . After the varnish has dried well, it is necessary to sand the wood with fine-grained abrasive material. The resulting dust is removed with a rag.


    After priming, the so-called polishing is performed. A couple of drops of vegetable oil are applied to a tampon made of linen (this makes it easier to slip) and a little liquid shellac polish is poured. For work, you can further dilute the composition based on shellac (usually an 8% solution is used).

    Advance the tampon from the side and make smooth circular motions . Polishing is carried out in three steps , where each layer must dry, sanded with fine sandpaper and cleaned of dust. Light gloss can be seen only after applying the third layer of the product.


    In order to polish the wood, i.e. to obtain a perfect shine, it is necessary to treat the surface of the wood with a fine-grained abrasive material (sandpaper) soaked in vegetable oil, when the third layer of polishing is completely dry. After that, drip a little vegetable oil and polish onto the swab.

    To improve the strength characteristics of the polished coating, you can apply not one, but several layers of . At the end of grinding, it is recommended to treat the product with a soft cloth moistened with a solution of polish and water. Excess oil can be removed by rubbing the wood with ethyl alcohol. In this case, the surface becomes more even.

    Given that the quality of polishing is affected by compliance with all the subtleties of the process, it is not worth reducing the number of applied layers and the time for their drying . Otherwise, this will lead to a deterioration in the decorative qualities of the coating.

    Polishing of lacquered wood must be carried out in strict accordance with the technological process, only then it is possible to obtain the most effective, sufficiently durable surface with a mirror finish . If there is no experience in this area, then it is recommended to first practice on small samples, and then move on to more expensive products.

    How to polish wood

    Polishing is not the most suitable surface treatment for modern furniture. In fashion now - a soft sheen of wax or matte - based on shellac - coating. But for many pieces of old furniture, a mirrored sparkling surface is a tribute to style. Therefore, when caring for furniture and restoring it, it is often necessary to renew the old polish, and sometimes - after repair - and apply a new one in the traditional way.

    How to polish wood

    Polishing is a laborious operation even for a specialist. Naturally, a beginner may have problems when mastering it. But, with practice, a home master can achieve satisfactory results. In any case, it is worth trying to polish a couple of unnecessary pieces of plywood before starting to process furniture.

    The old way of surface treatment is used less and less, and it is not always easy to find the right materials. To achieve a flawless finish, you will need shellac polish and a suitable thinner, as well as powdered pumice and polishing oil. All this can be bought at building materials stores. In addition, you will need a special primer composition. Like a matte finish solution, shellac polish is applied with a swab made from cotton wool, an old wool sock, and a small piece of fine linen or cotton.

    The most difficult surface treatment for veneer and solid wood is still polishing. Today, there are many colorless varnishes on the market for creating shiny protective coatings. Those who want to update old furniture should familiarize themselves with the technique of polishing it.

    Better for health

    Polishing oil can be easily removed with gasoline. However, it is better to do this with a clean cloth. True, you will have to spend more time, but no harm to health.


    Polishing will only be successful if the surface of the wood allows it. Mirror shine will only occur on veneer or solid wood that does not have defects. If the product has been treated with a stain, then it should be bleached, and then evenly covered with a stain again. In this case, the color tone should be slightly lighter than before, as polishing darkens the wood a little. There should be no unevenness on the surface. Small dents can be corrected by treating the defective areas with hot steam (using a damp cloth and iron). Protruding notched fibers are cleaned with fine sandpaper (grit 180). In this case, you need to work only in the direction of the wood fibers, so as not to scratch it.


    Scraper gives good results with pre-cleaning - if it is perfectly sharpened. It should not have a burr that can scratch the surface of the wood.

    In the direction of the wood grain

    The cycles only work in the direction of the wood grain. If, when scraping, chips are obtained of different thicknesses, then the scraper must be sharpened so that its cutting edge becomes evenly sharp.

    Veneer polishing

    Polishing starts with smoothing the surface of the wood. To do this, use a cycle or fine-grained sandpaper.


    The sanded surface must be thoroughly cleaned of wood dust. It is better to do this with a stiff brush. This is the only way to remove dust from the pores of the wood. While the fabric removes only the surface layer of dust. And with the dust remaining in the pores, flawless polishing will no longer work.

    Unstained wood sometimes looks pale. It may have some scratches on it. But after applying a layer of primer, the picture changes.

    Solid base

    The primer ensures uniform hygroscopicity of the wood, as it closes the pores at the very surface. At the same time, the tree begins to “play” a little: its color becomes more intense, and it no longer seems pale. These color changes must be taken into account if you want to stain the wood first: the color that the wood acquires as a result of staining will become slightly darker after applying the primer.

    The primer is applied evenly in the direction of the wood grain. It should be noted that the coating dries fairly quickly. Therefore, so that the primer layer is not too thick, it must be applied as soon as possible, otherwise you will have to remove the excess by grinding, and this is not only an additional, but also a very laborious operation, in which mechanical damage to the tree is possible.

    The primer (also called a hard base) is applied in an even layer with a large brush, moving it in the direction of the wood grain.


    Let the primer dry, i.e. harden. Even if after a while the surface of the wood feels dry to the touch, you need to wait twelve hours before proceeding to the next stage of processing.

    Deep sanding

    After applying the primer, the ends of the cut wood fibers may rise and stand upright. They need to be carefully cleaned. If the primer is not applied very evenly, then the surface is smoothed with fine sandpaper (240 grit) or a coil of fine steel wire (000 or 0000). In this case, the movements should be only in the direction of the wood fibers. When sanding with sandpaper, from time to time tap the boss on some hard object and thus shake off the wood dust from the paper. Also, periodically it is necessary to move the paper on the boss, thereby changing the treated area of ​​the abrasive coating to a fresh one. If you are sanding a primed surface with a roll of wire, then make sure that the thin steel threads are across the grain of the wood.

    Carefully remove dust from the sanded surface, especially after working with a coil of thin steel wire, so that no metal particles remain. Otherwise, after some time they may rust, and this will lead to a change in the color of the polish.

    After priming, smooth out irregularities with fine sandpaper or fine steel wire.

    Finishing with a mixture of polish and pumice powder

    The next stage of processing is decisive. A mixture of liquid polish (diluted with a solvent) and pumice powder in a ratio of 1:1 is applied to the primed surface.

    Dilute the polish in a sufficiently large container. Place a smooth plank or plank next to it.

    Sprinkle some pumice powder on it. Soak a swab with the diluted polish, lightly dip it in the powder, and apply the resulting paste-like mixture to the wood.

    First, the paste is spread on the surface in a wide circular motion, then rubbed in, moving the swab across the grain of the wood. This achieves filling with pumice powder of all pores and the smallest sections on the surface of the tree.

    It is not recommended to knead the paste too thin: in this form, it is poorly retained by the pores. You should also not rub the paste for too long - the result will be the same.


    The successful completion of this stage of work is a completely flat, smooth surface on which pores are not visible. The next step is to apply a layer of varnish with a swab already without solvent and pumice flour.

    On the resulting slightly shiny surface, the remaining irregularities and depressions are clearly visible: they should be refilled with polish and sanded. After that, the surface of the wood must "rest" for at least one day for the coating to harden. If you continue to work too soon, the next layer of polish may violate the integrity of the previous one.

    You should also wait one day before correcting errors found after applying a mixture of pumice powder and polish. That is, any applied layer must completely harden, and only after that you can proceed to further polishing.

    A coil of thin steel wire is used only for processing a surface coated with a primer or the first layer of varnish.

    To fill pores, soak a swab in diluted polish and dip it in pumice powder. Then rub the mixture into the wood.

    Applying polish

    After the mixture of polish and pumice powder has hardened, it is abraded with a roll of fine steel wire or lightly sanded with 220 grit sandpaper. The dust is then removed.

    The part is now ready to be polished. But first, you should slightly soak the swab with a solvent and carefully wipe the surface with it, writing out the “eight” with your hand. The thinner slightly dilutes the previously applied layer of polish and pumice powder, which allows the next layer of polish to "lie" better.

    Then, making movements in the form of "eights", the entire surface is covered with varnish diluted with a solvent in a ratio of 1:1. This layer should dry slightly, after which almost undiluted polish is applied to the surface with a swab, again making movements in the form of "eights". So that the swab does not stick to the surface (this happens when polish is used in a pure or almost pure form), it - the surface - is wiped with a special polishing oil. They take it quite a bit - a few drops, but this is enough for the tampon to easily slide over the surface.

    The first layer of polish is left to dry for 24 hours, then the procedure is repeated.

    Swab Flexibility

    The swab should be stored in a sealed container between uses to keep it elastic. If after some time you need a tampon again, then before using it, move the outer layer of tissue so that on the bottom, that is, the working side of the tampon, there is a clean area of ​​\u200b\u200bthis tissue. If the tampon becomes hard despite proper storage, replace it with a new one with a very thin outer layer. Make sure that on the underside of the swab the fabric is well stretched and there are no wrinkles on it.

    Beginners should not be confused by the fact that after applying the polishing oil, "clouds" appear on the surface areas that have just been polished. This is a consequence of the uneven evaporation of the solvent. However, the resulting cloudy spots soon disappear.

    polish lacquered wood

    Only with skilful careful polishing does the surface become smooth and mirror-like.

    Finishing polishing

    A good polished finish is three to four coats, but two coats will give a satisfactory result if the prep work has been done correctly.

    Before applying the final coat of polish, wipe the previous one lightly with solvent. This allows the new layer to take hold.

    Then, as before, a few drops of polishing oil are applied to the surface or directly to the swab impregnated with polish.

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