Waxing Antique Furniture

The finish, or ‘patina’ of a piece of antique furniture is crucial. Here at Thakeham Furniture we specialise in preserving the original patina as much as possible; not only is it intrinsic to the value, it is often a great part of the beauty of a piece. Years of  polishing with  beeswax builds up a lovely soft sheen and includes the marks and stains of its life. Sometimes we find the outline of a little pair of embroidery scissors!

Occasionally, if the original finish is beyond repair, we do French polish, but most of the furniture that comes into our showroom just needs a good clean and a wax. We use a beeswax-based antique wax made by Harrells, and, surprisingly, old boot brushes to apply it. If the bristles are soft enough not to scratch leather they won’t scratch the furniture!

At home, maintaining a good finish is simple. The most important tools are any good quality beeswax polish available from a hardware shop and elbow grease! Above all, avoid using any spray polishes, as most of these use silicon as a propellant which will wear through the patina. You don’t need to wax very often – every 3 to 4 months is usually plenty, depending on how much wear the piece gets. Waxing too often will give a sticky finish which attracts dirt. Apply a thin layer with a cloth, then buff up really hard with a soft cloth or brush. If using Harrells wax, which we do sell in the shop, ignore the instructions to leave the wax to dry!

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