The Editors Mailbox

The Editors Mailbox

Easy-On Wax Finish for Furniture

comments (6) September 7th, 2011 in blogs

Tom Tom McKenna, Managing Editor
thumbs up 18 users recommend

The perfect pair. Use mineral spirits to thin paste wax prior to application.
Lumpy and thick. Paste wax tends to be thick and lumpy when first opened. It also tends to dry out a little when it sits unused for a while.
Smooth and thin. With a splash of mineral spirits, the wax gets thinned, making it easier to control the amount on the pad.
Wax on. A thin coat of wax goes on easily and more evenly after its been thinned.
Wax off. The thinned application is also easier to buff out.
The perfect pair. Use mineral spirits to thin paste wax prior to application. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

The perfect pair. Use mineral spirits to thin paste wax prior to application.

Photo: Tom McKenna

I've been using paste wax as the final polish on my furniture for years. I apply it with 0000 steel wool, let it sit, and then wipe it with a clean cotton rag to buff it out.

The first few times I used the product, it wasn't so easy. The wax was often pretty stiff and tended to clump up on the applicator, making for a heavy application and thus a harder time removing it from the piece and buffing it after it sits.

The solution is to pour a small amount of mineral spirits onto the wax in the can. Typically a teaspoonful is enough, but you may need to add more if the wax is still lumpy or dry. Just don't add so much that you end up with wax that's the consistency of cake batter.

Dip the applicator in and lightly swirl the mineral spirits around. The wax will be thinned enough that it goes onto the applicator without clumps. This makes the wax go on smoothly and evenly. And best of all, it's easier to wipe off and buff to a nice, soft sheen.

posted in: blogs, how to, finish, wax, paste wax, mineral spirits, buffing

Comments (6)

smettler48 smettler48 writes: Sorry. I accidentally posted my message before it was done... I built a bookcase about 25 years ago and I recently spruced up the finish. I cleaned and top-coated the shelves, the outside of the case, and face-frame. but not wanting to re-coat the insides, I just wanted to wax and rub out that part. I found it was horrible with dust nibs in the old poly finish. I had finished it in a dusty area, and I hadn't rubbed out the finish. (I hadn't even HEARD of rubbing out a finish back then.)I tried the wax and 0000 steel wool, but that process just took the peaks off. The finish now felt like it had a bad case of acne. So I put wax on a pad of 600 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper, lightly worked the nibs, and immediately wiped off the wax, and it was like glass! I worried the sheen would be different on the high spots, but not so. I didn't even need to add another coat of wax.
Posted: 12:53 pm on February 8th

smettler48 smettler48 writes: I have a bookcase that I made about 25 years ago. I REALLY
Posted: 12:32 pm on February 8th

woodenhat woodenhat writes: Hey treblecats, if you applied the solvent to the furniture and over the wax you diluted the wax and removed it. Check to see if your wax has a solvent in it (by the pic with the article one might assume that Johnson's contains mineral spirits). The article specifically said, "The solution is to pour a small amount of mineral spirits onto the wax in the can". Best of luck.
Posted: 6:37 pm on September 10th

treblecats treblecats writes: Help please! I didn't know about letting wax sit too long, so when I tried to buff it out with 0000 steel wool, it just got cloudy. So I put some linseed oil on it which looked good for about a day. Now, the cloudiness is back. What do I do now?
Posted: 4:42 pm on September 10th

Tom Tom writes: Good info, rmnbike. Thanks...
Posted: 10:04 am on September 8th

rmnbike rmnbike writes: I believe that there are several wax brands (e.g., Briwax and others) which incorporate a solvent or two into the wax (or in some cases blend of waxes (caranuba, beeswax, etc.)to achieve the same effect. Many of these are also available tinted. I've used these, as well as the Johnson's and the (I forget the brand) bowling alley wax, and found that those that have the solvents mixed in are much easier to apply, and are almost liqui-gels at warmer temperature. It makes it easier to buff also, if you don't let it sit too long.
Posted: 7:54 am on September 8th

You must be logged in to post comments. Log in.

Save up to 51% on Fine Woodworking


Become a Better Woodworker

ABOUT THE EDITORS MAILBOX editors report from the woodworking front lines. Check in every weekday for news, information, projects, and answers to questions from Fine Woodworking readers everywhere.

Learn about our new format!

Archive: Temporarily unavailable. Stay tuned and sorry for the inconvenience.