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Waxing Antique Furniture

Unpolished Georgian tilt top table

From the photos below you will be able to see how it is possible to greatly improve a piece of furniture by just using a good wax polish. By rubbing it into the wood it is possible to get a very good finish without doing very little else. This late Georgian mahogany tilt top table shown, had been rather neglected and was dirty with plaster dust ingrained into the later Victorian carving .

It had very little patina, so by using a polish called Briwax, which I find very good and which is frequently used in the antique trade I was able to achieve a very good finish. Over time with regular polishing it will produce a good deep shine and patina.

On this particular table I used a fine steel wool, grade 0000 charged with some of the polish and worked it into the grain of the wood. This method did a number of things, such as cleaning out the grooves in the carving, smoothing off any imperfections and creating a nice smooth finish, before finally buffing off with a clean cloth.

Briwax polish come in different colours so as to match the wood that is to be polished. As a lot of antique furniture is quite dark, I use Antique Brown. This polish effectively cleans and stains whilst producing a lasting deep shine.

This method can be used on any Antique furniture which needs polishing. It is not always necessary to use it on fine steel wool but just on a clean cloth. It is quite possible to buy a table or chair at auction and give it a good wax polishing and so greatly improving it's appearance and value.
<Polished Georgian tilt top table

Until the late 18 th century the usual protective finish on furniture was beeswax or resin varnishes. Most lovers of antique furniture will agree that nothing pleases one more, than the sheen and depth of wax applied on wood which has been built up over the years. It not only fills the grain but enriches the colour and enhances the figuring.

Although waxing is a finish that requires time and energy, wood treated this way only improves with age. It's best to use one of the many good proprietory waxes on the market, if you are unable to get the one I have suggested ....make sure it's made from pure beeswax or from beeswax and carnauba wax.

Avoid any wax containing silicone.

NOTE There is just one rule to remember. You can wax over all finishes, including paint, French polish or oil, but you cannot apply any finish over wax.

If you would like advice on wax polishing , please get in touch by completing this short form.