How to wax polish antique furniture

William Arscott Head Restorer at Gilboys

William Arscott Head Restorer at Gilboys

Wax Polishing Method

  1. If the surface to be polished is particularly dirty clean it with a slightly damp cloth and wipe dry
  2. Lay a dust sheet on the floor if you are polishing in a sensitive environment
  3. Apply the wax sparingly to the surface with ‘0000’ wire wool (It’s like cotton wool) or a soft cloth
  4. Apply in small amounts evenly and in the direction of the grain (avoid over application)
  5. Allow to dry and harden for at least 30 mins or more, longer if you can overnight is good
  6. Buff with a clean cloth in the direction of the grain

Wax Polishes 

There is absolutely no substitute for a pure beeswax polish. It is the very best way to look after and preserve the finish on your furniture. We have found the majority of furniture polishes and wax polishes available to all of us contain a very poor amount of beeswax, many will also contain petroleum based white spirit, perfumes, oils and some have water in them to make an emulsion paste. These types of polishes should be avoided. It is likely that some of these polishes will cause harm to the patinated finish and in the long term will require professional restoration and conservation to the finish.

Spray Polisheswax in a can? It's magic or a convincing bluff
Spray polishes should also be completely avoided. We understand why they are used as time is precious to all of us. They provide a very quick result with one spray and wipe. Manufacturers of these polishes understand this and promote their products with convincing marketing telling us that there is real goodness in them. How can there be? It’s a liquid chemical spray. We do know that they can be extremely harmful to the finish of period and modern furniture. Some of these spray polishes state that they are silicon free and contain beeswax. I am sure this may be true but how much solid beeswax can be forced into a petrochemical liquid and pressurised that will be of any benefit to the furniture is beyond our understanding.

Liquid Polishes
Many of our customers will talk about furniture polish recipes that have been either handed  down to them by relatives or recommended to use by friends or they have seen on the  internet. We would strongly advise not use any these recipes. In most cases a single application can be very harmful to the finish.

Oil Polishes
Teak Oil – Tung Oil – Danish Oil – Linseed Oil – Hard Wax Oil – Etc

These oils should never be used on interior furniture without prior consultation with a specialist french polisher or furniture restorer. Oils will penetrate deep in to broken and dry finishes, this will often result in a sticky residue being left behind and over darkening of the area. It also will attract dust and dirt.

Liquid Oil Spray Polishes
In the same way that the pressurised liquid spray polishes are atomised at the nozzle creating a cloud of pleasant smelling chemicals, hand pumped bottles that contain a liquid oil should also be avoided. ‘Wet polishes’ when applied can easily creep under the surface of the finish and cause darkening to the area and lifting of the finish away from the wood.

Application

Given that we are no longer talking about using anything else other than beeswax polish. Wax polishing should only ever need to be done once a year and in many cases once every few years sometimes even longer. 

(In our films you can see Simon Gilboy applying wax polish with fine wire wool. This wire wool is extremely soft and very fine, it has the texture of cotton wool. It is the professional way to apply wax polish. If you are at all concerned about using it just use a soft cloth to apply.)

Daily or Weekly Care and Cleaning of Your Furniture
Use a slightly damp cloth to wipe away dust and a similar dry cloth to clean any residue is all that is necessary for the daily or weekly care of all antique and modern furniture.

The Development of our own Beeswax Furniture Polish

We have struggled for years to find a truly high content pure beeswax furniture polish that had been blended with the necessary fine ingredients to make a superior wax polish. There are a few manufacturers that do make good wax polishes but we found that they were only successful at polishing certain finishes and time periods, consequentlyOld wax polishes from Gilboy's store cupboards our store cupboards were full of all sorts of polishes. A good wax polish should have just the right content to provide a thin protective layer to the furniture adding to the long term preservation and patination of it. It is for these reasons we started to develop our own pure beeswax polish.

We approached our local Devon Beekeeping Association and asked their members if we could buy any spare beeswax and they were only t0o happy to help, not only with wax but also with advice on traditional wax polish recipes.

Buckfast Abbey's Pure Gold Beeswax

So for many months we developed and refined our own special blend of wax polish that suited our needs in the workshop, each new recipe carefully written down and trialing it on our own antique and vintage furniture.

During the latter stages of the wax development we were commissioned by Buckfast Abbey to restore some of the abbey’s antique furniture. It was during this restoration process that we were offered to use the beeswax produced by the monks own bees for our wax polish. We were obviously over moon to have this wax offering, especially as they were only a few miles away from our workshop. The head beekeeper Claire, with her Colleague Martin allowed us to hand select the most golden wax which was then very slowly remelted and triple filtered. The result of this careful attention is a pure golden solid beeswax. It is this wax that makes Gilboy’s Gold.

Order Your Beeswax Polishing Kit Now

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Our furniture polishing kits contain everything you need to polish and protect the finish of your wood furniture:

  • Your selected jar of Gilboy’s Gold beeswax furniture polish
  • 50cm of our antique restorers’ recommended oil-free wire wool
  • 2 lengths (70cm) of our antique restorers’ recommended polishing cloth
  • A ‘Gilded bee’ pure Dartmoor beeswax filler block matched to your chosen polish
  • A complimentary box of sweet-pea seeds for you to grow as a ‘Thank You’ to the bees

Customer Review

Gilboys antique gold beeswax polish
“I have used traditional Beeswax polish on my antique furniture for over forty years, but Gilboy’s antique gold is outstanding, and out performs all the rest. Not only does the polish impart a deep lustrous shine to the wood, but it totally enhances the natural patina of the furniture, and it has a very pleasant perfume. The packaging is excellent, and the team who make it go out of their way to personalise every order. I am now converted to using this high standard and high class product”