Waxing Poetic

by Alan Noel
Professional Wood Finisher

With all the products available to clean and polish furniture that are available out there today, it's easy to be overwhelmed when it comes to deciding what to use on your prized woodworking projects, as well as antiques handed down by your family.

I've always recommended paste wax for all furniture finishes, both clear and opaque. Paste wax creates a moisture barrier between the finish and the wood itself, preventing moisture from wicking into the wood and thereby causing excessive expansion, which in turn leads to a complete failure of the protective finish. Be it paint or traditional finishing materials or even your leather shoes, a coat of wax will go a long way towards keeping your furniture (and shoes) in good shape for years to come.

Tips for applying a coat of wax:

1. Be sure to clean the surface before waxing. Although wax is virtually inert, it's always a good idea to clean the surface first.

2. The thinner the coat, the better. I always use a very soft cloth dampened with mineral spirits to apply the wax. Mineral spirits will soften the wax and allow it to better flow onto the surface, thereby letting you make a little go a long way.

3. Use a circular motion when applying wax. This forces it into the cracks that all finishes suffer due to natural expansion and contraction. You may not be able to see this with the naked eye, but rest assured they are there. Ever seen a white ring on a new piece of furniture?

4. Allow the waxed surface to dull or become hazy.

5. Remove the excess wax and to buff the surface using a very soft cotton cloth folded a few times. Always try to rub in the direction of the grain. Refold the cloth often to keep a clean surface and to remove the wax as fast as possible.

6. After the initial buff, use another clean cloth to rub the surface rather vigorously to bring up the shine.

7. If you have trouble getting all the wax off, use the application cloth with a little more mineral spirits to soften the wax again. Then repeat steps 4-6.


I invite you to sign up for one of my upcoming wood finishing seminars at Highland Woodworking:

Gilding and Gold Leafing, February 25, 2009
Furniture Repair, March 14, 2009
Quick Wood Finishes, March 25, 2009



Alan can be reached directly via email c/o Alan Noel Furniture Refinishing at anoelfurniturere@bellsouth.net.

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