Waxing antiques

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A pure and simple waxed finish for antique furniture is what we should aim for.
Either you can buy your antique wax, or you can mix your own, which is the method I
recommend. It takes a little time and effort but will produce the results you want.
The only advantage to buying ready prepared wax is that you can chose the colour you
want to achieve without bothering to add your own colour. To experiment with your own
colouring add small amounts of ordinary black or brown shoe polish. Do try a small area
first.

To make your own pure antique wax :

First of all ensure all surfaces you are about to wax are 100% stable, i.e. no lifting veneers etc.
Scoop out pure beeswax into a tin which can serve as a ‘bain marie’ as you will be placing the tin in
an outer container of hot water to soften the wax. Add pure turpentine, about 50-50. Don’t worry if you add a little too much as surplus turps will evaporate off. Mix the two together thoroughly and allow to cool until you achieve a smooth paste. Remember to close the tin carefully when not in use. Beware turps is flammable so great care is needed if exposed to a naked flame.

Aim to wax your furniture in a warmish environment if you are waxing in winter so the wax does not
set too fast. Apply the wax generously with a soft cloth preferable against the grain, allowing wax to settle in any ‘open grain’ or recently restored areas. Leave the wax to harden for 24 hrs or more. It will require lots of elbow grease to polish out but it will be well worth your while to wait. Naturally use a soft polishing cloth, turning frequently and washing out after application. Very slightly moistened mutton cloth works well.
Don’t worry too much if there is surface dirt already present on your surfaces, allow this dirt to mix freely in
with the wax. Clearly if there is too much dirt, clean gently with vinegar. Do not be tempted remove any mounts, allow the wax to collect and harden in the nooks and crannies.

For real enthusiasts try to get hold of carnauba wax. Colloquially known as ‘the queen of waxes’. This wax is
derived from palm leaves and hardens well.
Mix four parts of pure beeswax.
Five parts of turpentine. One part chopped ‘carnauba’ wax.
Mix thoroughly and allow to thicken up.

No harm in waxing every month if you have the energy. You will be sure to get a fine result. You might try a Black and Decker electric drill with lambswool ‘bonnet’ on slow speed. This will save you lots of effort, but this does seem to be cheating a little!

By the way you can wax lacquer and gilded surfaces in the same way. But take great care surfaces are stable, and
go steady!

2016-11-09T09:33:48+00:00

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