Updated: Oct 26, 2022
We get a ton of questions here at Vintage Home Stores asking for help with domestic furniture restoration jobs, in particular for Antique Wooden Furniture. So every month we will be compiling a quick help guide for the common questions we get asked so you can save them up and refer to them the next time you need some guidance.
How to Wax Antique Furniture
This is by far the most common question we get asked and you would be shocked at both how easy and effective our method is, but also how odd some peoples advice is on the internet - we googled it for a laugh and couldn't believe what so called "specialists" were advising people to do.
Just like everything in life you need to prepare. If you were going on a date with a foxy prospective partner would you just rock up in your work clothes, or would you spend some time getting showered changed and relaxed so you don't look a nob? So when you have a nice Mahogany Chest of Drawers to wax follow these pre waxing steps.
Give yourself room to move and work round your piece of furniture. Pull it away from the wall so you can work at the back and sides comfortably - if you can't reach every part of the item you will just half do the job.
Get everything you need in front of you otherwise you will be starting then wondering off and will be tempted to look at funny dog videos on Tik Tok or yet another Air Fryer recipe!
To remove excess wax from the last time it was polished correctly, use a cloth dampened with WHITE SPIRIT as that works well, just make sure you dry it properly afterwards. DO NOT USE METHS as that will cause damage to the furnitures original finish. There are a million and one "hacks" on the internet using various chemicals that only Jeffrey Dahmer will have knocking around in his kitchen, but remember keep it simple.
Use warm soapy water (washing up liquid will suffice) and gently wash down the item and then towel dry with a lint free cloth. It's not having a bath so don't go wild and drench it - just lightly.
Make sure the piece is dry before the next process.
We find the best wax to use is Beeswax as its properties are kinder to the wood and the finish is deeper. Try and stay away from petroleum based polishes as they are a wee bit harsh.
Apply your polish evenly and gently with an open weave cotton cloth - only work on a manageable area at a time. You wouldn't buy a Foot Long Subway and ram it in your mouth at once, you would eat it in manageable bits well if you are my son you would ram it in at once!
We use 0000 grade wire wool. Honestly don't be afraid and I assure you I haven't eaten one of my friends space cake muffins, it wont damage your furniture, it just allows you to lightly cut into the previous finish to get the best results. Cloths tend to absorb polish whereas the steel 0000 wool will keep it free. The only times to stay away from steel wool is if your item is ultra shiny in which case it shouldn't be polished, or if you are on untreated bare wood.
Wax on Wax Off
Don't be tempted to buff off 5 mins after putting it on as this will do nothing but waste your time. This is not the Karate Kid and if Mr Myagi were advising Danny LaRusso he would say "Wax On leave for 30 Minutes then lightly wax off"
Open weave cloths are best to use for Buffing as they wont heat up the wax. Remember you have taken time cleaning, preparing and waxing so the idea now is to leave the wax cells smooth so they reflect the light and give depth.
The faster and harder you buff, the more you heat up the wax and just smear it around the piece making it look erm.... naff!
I seen a "Hack" to use an electric car buffer like a machine polisher. I think the gentleman that recommended this was poorly and we shouldn't really judge him, but that is just stupid!
Stand back and look for any flat spots and if there are just buff up with a fresh piece of cloth - you may need to reapply some wax.
To be honest thats it. You can do other things during the process such as when preparing the item fix and flaws such as scratches, chips etc and even replace broken fittings. Hey you are spending time on it so you may as well do it well - but do not adopt this practice with housework lads, if the Mrs knows you are effective and methodical at housework, before you know it she will know you can do more! Just oversplash the dishes, put washing powder in the wrong slot every now and then and use a soaking wet mop to clean the floor and all will be good I promise.
Well I hope this helps and remember keep an eye on future posts where we will look at removing heat ring marks, scratches as well as some leather work.
Vintage Home Stores is one of the leading suppliers of Vintage Furniture Antique Furniture and Quality Used Furniture to the UK markets. Our delivery is amongst the cheapest in the country and all items are in stock ready to go.