How (and why) to use a paste wax

Paste wax has been used for centuries to seal, protect and add shine to wood furniture. Paste wax dries to a hard, but very thin, protective finish which makes it the best choice for maintaining fully finished furniture. It is simple to apply and offers several benefits that modern technology can`t match.

Paste wax contains no chemicals that can dry out wood furniture. Most spray-on furniture polishes contain harsh chemical solvents to make them spray effectively, which means that they are dissolving your finish even as they are cleaning it. 

The solvents in paste wax are generally made from mineral spirits and are only intended to help the wax soften enough to be spread over the wood. This type of solvent is far gentler on furniture finishes. 

Manufacturers of spray polish like to scare consumers with the dangers of “waxy build-up,” but this is a myth. Given the nature of paste wax, it simply does not build up in the way that they claim it does.

Every time you rub against a waxed surface, you degrade a tiny bit of the wax. When you reapply paste wax to furniture and buff it, you`re replacing missing wax, not simply layering over what is already there. 

You don`t need any special equipment to apply paste wax, but it`s a good idea to keep lint-free cloths and oil-based furniture soap on hand.

Begin by dusting your furniture. A static-cling or feather duster is excellent for this, because they do not grind the dust particles into the finish, which can cause microscopic scratches. Another benefit of paste wax is that it easily fills tiny scratches, but it still makes sense to avoid causing them if you can.

To apply paste wax, start by dampening a lint-free cloth such as a shop cloth, linen dish towel or old t-shirt with warm water and a tiny dab of oil-based furniture soap. Clean the furniture thoroughly and then wipe it down with a clean, dry cloth.

Place a little blot of paste wax in the center of a clean cloth. It doesn`t need to be large, certainly no larger than a jawbreaker candy or a ping pong ball. Twist the free ends of the cloth close around the little ball of wax. Squeeze and gently knead the cloth until the wax warms and you can feel it softening.

Hold the cloth by the twisted ends and rub the part covering the wax against your furniture. Use whichever motion feels most comfortable, either small circles, back-and-forth or side-to-side sweeps. Because the wax seeps through the cloth in such tiny amounts, it doesn`t matter if you work with or against the grain of the wood. 

Let the wax sit for a few seconds. You will see it start to become cloudy. This is the solvent evaporating and it is a necessary part of the process. Buff the wax lightly with a clean, dry cloth and it will develop a deep, soft shine. 

If you let the wax sit too long, so much solvent will evaporate that the wax becomes hard again. Apply a bit of fresh wax and it will soften right back up. 

Work in small areas if you`re polishing a very large piece of furniture. Buff each section to a high sheen before moving on to the next one and you won`t have to worry about the wax hardening.

Reapply the paste wax when water no longer beads up on its surface or when the furniture looks like it is starting to lose its shine. This will vary according to how much use the furniture gets, so check the look and feel of the wax every time you dust. 

The furniture lovers at OlyFurnitureWorks recommend contacting their friends at Forrest Furnishing the next time you are looking to add to your collection of fine dining or casual wood furniture…unless we’ve got it too. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *