Clean, apply and then polish
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Photo 1: Clean
Clean the wood using a soft cloth
dampened with mineral spirits. Open
windows for ventilation. Touch up scratches
with a fine-tip marker
before you wax.
Visit an art supply
store to find a
wide array of
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Photo 2: Apply wax
Wrap a ball of wax in a cloth and apply a thin, even coat of wax. Rub on the wax
in a circular pattern.
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Photo 3: Polish
Wipe off the excess wax with a soft
cloth. Turn and refold the cloth frequently
to expose clean cloth.
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Photo 4: Wax choices
Different colors of wax are available. Use dark wax for dark, grainy woods or to subtly darken a lighter wood.
If you have wood furniture that's
looking dull, revive the shine with
paste wax. Wax is a more durable
coating than liquid furniture polish and it
won't attract dust as many polishes do.
Wax will fill and hide very fine scratches,
but it won't hide dents or deeper scratches.
Wax is available in several colors. Most
home centers and hardware stores carry
wax, which is
fine for most finishes.
But don't use
light wax on dark
finishes that have
recesses in the
wax that fills the
tiny crevices in the surface will look bad.
(This won't happen on glossy, solid dark
finishes.) For wax in a variety of colors, check woodworking and paint stores and online suppliers (Photo 4). You can also use
dark wax to deepen the color of a finish.
Clean the wood with mineral spirits to
remove grime as well as residue left by furniture
polishes (Photo 1).When the mineral
spirits dries, buff off any residue with
a dry cloth. Then cut a rag from an old
cotton T-shirt and wrap it around a walnut-sized ball of wax. As you rub with the
ball, wax will ooze through the rag (Photo
2). Apply only enough wax to form a thin
gloss—a heavy coat just leaves you with
more wax to buff off later. If you haven't
used wax before and you're working on a large piece of furniture, wax and then buff
small areas no more than 3 x 3 ft.
Don't wait for the wax to dry completely
and form a haze the way you would
with car wax. Fully dried furniture wax is
very hard to buff smooth. Wait only until
the wax partially dries and begins to look
dull (typically 15 to 30 minutes). Then
rub the surface with a cotton cloth to
remove the excess wax. The rag should
glide smoothly over the wax with only a
little elbow grease. If you've waited too
long and can't rub out the swirls of wax,
simply apply more wax, then wait and
wipe again (solvent in the second coat of
wax will soften the first coat).
A wax finish doesn't require any special
care; simply dust with a dry or damp cloth. A wax coating will last months or
even years depending on how heavily the
furniture is used. When the finish again
looks worn, scuffed or dirty, just clean and
rewax. Don't worry about wax buildup.
Each new wax job dissolves and removes
much of the previous coat.