Beeswax Polishing - Problem Solving FAQ

Pure cotton open-weave buffing cloth

Buff the surface every now and then with our pure cotton, open weave buffing cloth. This will revive the wax and maintain the soft sheen. *Please avoid using any spray polishes. I know they are easy and convenient to use but they will break down the wax surface and over time, leave a greasy chemical residue.

Yes but you need to be patient. Repeated applications of beeswax polish at any one time will often lead to a sticky, patchy surface. I would recommend waiting at least a week before applying again. The wax needs to dry hard on the surface. The turpentine needs to be absorbed and or evaporate and the waxes need time to go hard on the surface before applying more polish again.

high quality beeswax polish

Using a high quality beeswax polish like Gilboys to polish your furniture will help prolong the life and protect the finish. When used on period antique furniture it will enhance the patinated finish at the same as as protecting it. It will save you time. Because the specially developed blend of waxes in Gilboys ensures that you don't necessarily have to polish again for at least a year and possibly up to 3 years. One application will last that much longer than the wet petrochemical-based polishes that are produced so cheaply for maximum profit. It is the very reason why we developed Gilboys Beeswax Polishes ourselves.

When you (sparingly) apply beeswax polish to a surface it will have a matt appearance. The solvent (pure pine turpentine in the case of Gilboys polishes) needs time to be absorbed or evaporate. The polish generally requires 20 to 30 minutes to dry enough to enable buffing.

Buff the surface to deep sheen with an open weave pure cotton buffing cloth. This allows the light in to reflect the beautiful wood beneath it.

If you apply the polish and then immediately buff it, all you are doing is wiping the wax polish straight off the surface. You will see it on your buffing cloth where it should be on the surface.

Here’s the science behind it:

The waxes are held in a suspension of solvent (pure pine turpentine). Centuries ago, humans discovered that gum spirits of turpentine is an extremely useful solvent. Not only is it ideal for allowing the wax to be easily applied, but it also dissolves the topmost layer of old wax and dirt that has built up on the surface of the finish. The application of a turpentine-based wax polish with 0000 grade fine steel wire wool actively cleans the surface and renews the protective wax layer at the same time. Once the wax has been applied the turpentine needs to evaporate sufficiently to allow the waxes to harden into a solid protective layer. The act of buffing is to smooth out that layer. The smoother the layer, the more reflective (or ‘shiny’) the surface will appear.

No not really, the cloth will disintegrate and clump up. They should last quite a long time. If you are using it to buff Gilboys polish there should be very little wax residue on the cloth - giving it quite a long lifespan. Turn it inside out for extended life.

This question came from a customer recently and is a classic case that crops up quite often...

The reason it's botchy is because you didn't sand it evenly enough. Sanding and preparation is 80% of the job of refinishing.

Use the stripper again to remove the danish oil. Over the counter paint strippers are all that are available to you, sorry. They do work, they just take longer to do the job.

Sand it again with 120 grit then use 180 grit and vacuum the dust away (ALWAYS IN THE DIRECTION OF THE GRAIN). Wipe over the surface with some methylated spirits, as I do in the video below. You're using the meths to allow you to see how the wood will look when it is sealed and finished. It will also show up any blemishes you may have missed.

*There is no need to use vinegar/acetic acid - I used it in the video because I was using a solvent chemical stripper.

If you are happy that the surface looks even, allow the meths to evaporate away and lightly sand again with the 180 grit sandpaper. Just a quick light sand over the surface. If it doesn't look even then sand it a bit more.

Once you are happy that the wood is ready for sealing then proceed as you have done before. I'm not a fan of danish oil, it takes too long to dry and hasn't got much of a body to it. Hard wax oils are much better in my opinion. They give a much better finish on teak coffee tables.

Then you can wax polish it with Gilboys Rose Gold beeswax polish.

"The quick answer is mineral oil has its place but turpentine is much better"

Food grade mineral oil originates from very refined crude oil. It is often used as the softening solvent for some beeswax polishes. It is fine for use on bare wood substrates that don't have a 'film coating' on them, such as french polish (shellac) or a lacquer/varnished finish. It will be absorbed by the bare wood easily and will disappear relatively quickly leaving the majority of the solids to remain on the surface.

So mineral oil based polishes are fine for using on bare wood and on food preparation surface areas.

Predominantly oil-based polishes should not be used on period furniture or film coated furniture because the oil can damage the finish. I'll explain why:

On period furniture that has a traditional shellac based finish often there will be areas where the finish is worn and broken down. These areas might not be immediately obvious, but if an oil based wax is used it may find its way in and under the finish creating a darkened oil slick area. Over time this will creep further under the finish and it will start lifting the finish off. I have seen many examples of this in the workshop.

The above also applies to old 20th century furniture that have been finished with cellulose lacquers and varnishes (film coatings).

(MCM) Mid Century Modern teak furniture is increasingly becoming more popular and will be particularly vulnerable to oil based polishes.Especially as this style of furniture was manufactured with a thin veneer over particle board. (video link of me cutting a g plan table) Repeated oil based polishing may well lead to long term damage.

Oil based polishes with a high oil content will struggle to evaporate on film coated furniture. If the oil cannot be absorbed then it will remain on the surface initially giving a pleasing effect but in effect you are creating a secondary finish. If it is repeatedly applied the finish may start to look smeary and patchy.

Many manufacturers may add a little linseed oil to the mix which will help the drying process once applied and also give the wax more of a paste like consistency. There is nothing wrong with this as long as they get the ratios right. But only too often manufacturers will use too much mixed with other chemicals, and rely on emotional marketing to make you believe that their product is good.

Gilboys use Pure Gum Turpentine tapped from living pine trees. I think it is often mistakenly thought to have come from the petrochemical crude oil industry but it is actually made from distilled and refined pine resin.

Pine turpentine has been used for centuries in combination with beeswax. It will not cause any harm to bare wood or film coated finishes. When mixed with pure liquid beeswax and cooled, it holds more beeswax in suspension than petrochemical solvents. It is one of the reasons our polishes are more concentrated than any other polish on the market and why when it is applied only a small amount is needed.

Our polish will probably transfer at least double the amount of wax applied per square cm/inch when compared to any normal paste wax. And because of this the lustre will be that much deeper and last that much longer. It is why we recommend only using our wax. in many cases, once every three years and in some cases once every 5 years.

It’s easy to make wax polish with mineral oils and other cheap ingredients. There are many available on the open market. They show very provocative imagery of golden honey and beautiful giant bees but it’s all marketing hype. And how many actually tell you what the real ingredients are? They say beeswax but is it? Where does it come from? And how are the bees cared for? The big question is: Is there really any real pure beeswax in it all?

Wax polish doesn't necessarily mean beeswax polish. It just means it's wax polish. The assumption of beeswax is made by the consumer.There is a huge pharmaceutical industry out there making synthetic beeswax and I know because our business has been offered it many times.

So when I see products claiming to be pure beeswax, being sold for £5.99 I would think again. There's one product I see quite often that is called ‘bee wax’ not beeswax but; ‘bee wax’. And I look at the imagery of an almost sunset golden wax and then I look at the organic pale gold wax I hold in my hands and I think where is this made and how and with what? Do the bees know?

I know that wax can change colour depending on the time of year and the type of flowers the bees are visiting, but really..

I personally visit and collect our beeswax from the beekeeping monks at Buckfast Abbey. We share a cup of tea and talk about the bees. Each hive is named after it’s queen.

My intention was to make the best beeswax polish I possibly could for our customers. I didn't want to compete with any other brand. Over the last 35 years of using commercial wax polishes I wanted to make the best product I could with the world's best ingredients. This is not marketing hype on my behalf, it's the truth. So I did. I'm sorry, I got lost in there somewhere. 😆

Our customers are almost addicted to the aroma of our wax. I think there is no way of really knowing until you try it.

I spent an awfully long time researching and sampling pure pine turpentines. We discovered that there were quite large differences in the aroma which funnily enough, was also mirrored by its purchase price. We found that we were buying the exact same volume of supposedly the exact same product from different suppliers, but in some cases there was a 100% difference in cost. And if you google the cost of ‘Pure Gum Pine Turpentine then you'll realise that a 100% variable is a huge sum of money.

I personally believe that the cheaper brands were diluting the turpentine with a turps substitute which dramatically altered the composition of our wax polish formula and also its aromatic properties. It also could explain how they were 100% cheaper than the others. We carried out a number of blind smell tests over a cross section of people and it was fairly conclusive that the more expensive turpentine product was very much favoured. Without hesitation I chose to use it.

We now buy Pure Gum Spirit of Turpentine direct. So we know it has not been diluted, and is consistent with our polish formula. Pure pine turpentine is the best solvent for beeswax. It holds more wax by volume than petrochemical solvents. And it's made from living pine trees. It is perfectly safe to be used in a home. If you use it in a confined space, open the doors and windows. The turpentine is quickly absorbed or evaporates away leaving a hard natural sacrificial wax layer.

Will you like it? I don't know, you can try it with one of our starter kits or check out our reviews.

There are plenty of cheaper mineral-oil-based wax polishes available to buy. They are fine for use on bare wood surfaces, but I would advise against using them on film-coated or finished furniture as the oil will struggle to dry and may damage the surface with continued applications.

I have restored the finish on furniture with inlays many times. The lacquer that it is finished with is very hard. I think you will be okay with the rose gold. My only concern would be the colour in the polish discolouring the inlay. Unlikely to happen but I would try it on an inconspicuous area first.

You can use the pure cotton polishing cloth that comes in our polishing kits. The trick with using beeswax polish is to apply it sparingly in the direction of the grain. Leave it for 20 to 30 mins and then buff it to a soft sheen. Apply, wait, and buff one piece at a time for example a chair, or single section of a table. Take your time. Work in easy to manage, bite sized areas. It makes the process more enjoyable.

This is a good question with a few answers..

  1. If you are applying our wax polish to a dirty but previously shiny finish, it will not only revive the original finish but enhance it. As you can see by the results in this video.
  2. However, if you are applying it to a newly sealed surface that has a matt or satin finish it will leave a soft satin sheen.
  3. If applied directly to bare unsealed wood it will leave a matt finish.
  4. If you want to wax polish a previously finished surface and don't want the shine then you can dull it by using the '0000' steel wire wool dry. Apply it to the surface with a little pressure (following the grain if possible) and it will take approximately 50% of the gloss out of it. The term in the French Polishers world is called 'Dulling' and there are many other ways of dulling but this is the easiest process.

There's a demonstration of me doing this at 43:17 in this video:

This is an often-asked question that in this case comes from one of our YouTube viewers in Australia.

"Hi Susan (g'day 😀)
You are right, that often there are obvious colour differences when solid wood and veneers are used. I'm not aware of G-Plan using anything other than teak and teak veneer.
Solid wood will mellow and age differently to veneer as it has a greater mass of wood in it. Thin veneers will often bleach out to a lighter even colour whereas finished solid wood will mellow and age with a much greater depth and variation in colour.

I would recommend stripping and sanding your table top as I demonstrate in the video (below) and then assess the colour. If you feel you still would like to make it darker then this is the point to do it.

Hard wax oils are very durable and provide good protection. You can use a polyurethane varnish or lacquer but with that you may compromise the look and feel of the table. The reason I like using hard wax oils is because they are made from non toxic, natural ingredients and are very easy to apply (unlike the traditional lacquers and varnishes). They are also hard-wearing and look very similar to the original finish applied by G-Plan and other mid-century teak furniture manufacturers (which would have been spray gun applied).

Another benefit of using a hard wax oil is that you can easily re-apply it later on and it will refresh the finish without it looking over polished. You can also re-apply it over our wax polish. It's a win win win scenario as far as I can see. A durable, natural finish that looks good and is easy to apply by anyone. You don't have to just apply it the one time.
You can gently sand it with 320 grit sandpaper and give it a second or third coat if you so wish, then wax it.

In the video below I demonstrate how to finish G-Plan MCM nest of tables using a Hard Wax Oil:

It really depends on two factors:

  1. The amount of mechanical wear the furniture is subjected to
  2. The quality of the beeswax polish you use

A beeswax polish isn't intended to offer as much protection as lacquers, shellacs, varnishes and oil finishes. It is intended to act as an easily-restored sacrificial layer to protect those expensive and hard-to-repair finishes.

A 100% beeswax finish is too soft and wont offer the long term protection, thats's why we blend ours with the hardest of all natural waxes; T1-grade carnauba wax. This is another natural wax, produced by the Copernicia Prunifera tree to protect its leaves from water, pathogens and UV radiation. As the hardest of all natural waxes with the highest melting point (around 85°C) it helps Gilboy's Gold to provide a strong and harder-wearing protective finish.

The table below provides some examples:

Furniture Gilboys Beeswax Polish may last for up to...
Grandfather Clock 5+ years
Georgian Fall Front Bureau 4 years
Wardrobe 5 years
Side Table 2 to 3 years (depending on use)
Chest of Drawers 3 to 4 years (turned drawer knobs, depending on use, every year)
Farmhouse Kitchen Table 1 year (if used three times a day)
Kitchen Chairs, Windsor Chairs, Smokers Bow, Chapel Chairs etc 2 years and again more often on the seat and high wear areas.
Dining Chairs 3 years (possibly once a year on arms and crest rail where there is more mechanical wear)
Dining Tables Depending on the original finish and again how often it is used. - Once possibly twice a year or much longer if only used a few times a week.

The reason our polish lasts so long is because when I made it I wanted to make the very best polish for our restoration customers. I would often be asked, "What’s the best way to maintain the finish on our furniture now it has been restored?” - All I could offer them was the same cheaply-made chemical-ridden waxes that have been around for decades. I decided to make a wax polish for my restoration and antiques customers without any compromise on costs or quality. And that's what I did - testing on our own wide range of antique woods as I developed each new formula. I talk about the ethos behind our polishes in the video below:

Cricket jumps once. Cricket jumps twice. The last jump wasn't so pleasant, poor cricket.

Staining beech can be quite tricky. You see, beech is a great construction hardwood but is a pain in the backside to colour. I tend to favour using oil stains when offering advice as they are very easy to use. I would have thought a 'light oak' colour would be best. It means you can always stain it again if it's not dark enough with one application.

Beech absorbs stains at different rates, and more often than not it draws the colour into the wood and darkens it in a patchy way. This is why I would err on the side of caution and choose a lighter stain than you need. Once dry you can seal it in the same way as the top.

Colron also produce wood dyes that may be cheaper and easier to get hold of locally. They also have a greater range of colours. It's not a true oil stain, more of a combination of oil with a stronger solvent. You can easily find Colron wood dyes online.

**Ercol as well as Nathan and many other mass-producing furniture manufacturers would spray finish their furniture to override this problem. Using a technique of spray sealing, sanding down and then spray colouring, with a finish either added to the colour or applied after the colour was applied (like a colour sandwich.. Spray Seal, Colour, Spray Finish).

These images were emailed in my a customer and are a perfect example of a broken-down finish.

the broken-down finish on wooden chairs
a good example of a broken-down wood finish

The short answer is no, not in the long term. Wax polish will make it less obvious but..

The images clearly show the original finish on these oak chairs has deteriorated so much that it is now flaking away. Now I must say that it is not always that obvious your finish has started to do this, especially on furniture that has only had a very thin finish in the first place.

Initially when you apply the wax to a surface like this the polish will immediately be absorbed by the unfinished areas and will probably darken the wood a little. In some cases it may give the appearance of blending the intact finish with the missing areas, but it won't last long and will soon be absorbed by the dry wood, leaving you disappointed.

The only way to fix this is by stripping and refinishing. You may want to employ someone to do this or you can give it a go yourself. This may sound like it's a bit beyond your abilities but I can assure you it is not that difficult.

I have produced a number of videos showing a simple and very effective method for doing this on our YouTube channel:

I have also written a step-by-step guide 'HOW TO STRIP AND REFINISH WOODEN FURNITURE' that I hope you will find easy to follow along.

I would always try and fix the repairs first, before even stripping the wood in the first place. Always try to get the repairs done prior to any fishing work.

Once the repairs are finished then you can move on to staining and sealing or just sealing, depending on what is necessary or your preference.

For example: If I had a piece of furniture that needed to be darker, for whatever reason and it also had a lot of old ugly repairs that were beyond ‘nice patination’. I would apply a stain to the bare wood first before sealing it with anything and once it was sealed well enough (this may be one or two coats of hardwax oil or a few good fads of shellac prior to bodying) I would then add colour over the top.

This process would start to make the finish semi opaque, disguising the blemishes and bad repairs. I would then continue with the clear coats over the top and on to the rest of the finishing process.

(I think I may need to make another video demonstrating this ✅)

The end result is a finish that looks like a piece of polished wood but actually underneath the finish are some visually unwanted repairs and marks.. It's a layered system in effect.

The Edwardian period of furniture joiners in the UK did this a lot. They often used a mix of poor quality timbers in the construction which were cleverly disguised by the French Polishers in the finishing workshop. I hope this helps. (I need to make a video showing this )

About the Author

Simon Gilboy, furniture restorer
Simon Gilboy, MD Gilboys

Simon's career began in furniture restoration in 1987. Leaving school at 16 and signing on as an apprentice French Polisher at Staverton joinery, he has accumulated over 30 years experience in the restoration of fine and antique furniture. In 1994 Simon opened the doors on the first Gilboy’s workshop at the Riverside in Staverton with financial and mentoring help from The Prince’s Trust. In 2015 after years of searching for a beeswax furniture polish that would befit the fine furniture Gilboys were restoring, Simon developed his own beeswax polish using only the very best of responsibly-sourced ingredients. Simon says, "My intention was not to compete with anyone on price, but to simply make the best beeswax polish it was possible to make". You can usually find Simon in the Gilboys workshops filming instructional how-to videos for the Gilboys YouTube channel, on help forums, or actively finding new ways to preserve the past for the future.

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