I had to just film an overview of my finishing process, there arevideos on french polishing on Youtube that cover thetopic more fully. the instrument in the video had about 7 or 8 coatsover a few days, now I'm just finishing the back and sides only leavingthe top with a thinner coat.
I had one of my instruments that I made back for adjustment and wasvery pleased to see the finish which was the same as the above. It hadhardened nicely over time and looked really great, not plastic oroverly dry and matt that some oil/danish finishes can be.
As an alternative you can use an oil finish instead of the shellac one,its an easier process, rub oon, rub off, this will take longer betweencoats however. Tru-oil is a great commercial productthat has been used on guitars and ukuleles.