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Applying Paste Wax

How To Apply Paste Wax:
Furniture wax is easy to apply and maintain. Here are a few helpful hints: Before applying furniture paste wax, wipe the surface clean with a moist, not wet, cloth. This will remove the water-soluble dirt. The thinner in the paste wax makes it an excellent cleaner for removing grease and oil-based dirt. The biggest mistake that people make when applying furniture paste wax, is applying too much. Wax is tenacious about sticking to other things, but it does not stick well to itself. If you put a whole can of paste wax on a tabletop and buff it out, you will be left with the small amount that you should have put on in the first place. The only difference is that you have just wasted an entire can of paste wax and spent the day trying to get it off. So, with a soft, clean, cotton cloth, apply the furniture paste wax by first dipping the cloth into the can of wax. Now, rub the wax on in a circular motion over the wood surface. Rub it vigorously and spread the wax on thinly.
 
The next step is to buff the paste wax, but when should you do that? This is one of the great mysteries about waxing. Not really, it’s simple. You are waiting for the solvents in the furniture paste wax to evaporate. What determines that is what kind of solvent was used in the paste wax. Was it a fast or slow evaporating solvent? And what is the environment like that you are waxing in; hot, cold, humid…. etc., all of these things will effect the drying time and how the wax buffs out. The point is that there is no exact time to begin buffing the paste wax. Could be five minutes, twenty minutes or more. Most of the time it’s about ten or fifteen minutes, if all the conditions are right and the proper amount of paste wax is applied. You will know the wax is ready to buff when it looks dry or hazed over. When the wax is ready, take another clean cloth and buff the surface. Buffing lightly will produce a satin sheen; while more buffing can produce a higher sheen or even a gloss. If you try and buff the wax too soon, before the solvent has fully evaporated, you will effectively be stripping the wax from the surface. This is the reason a poorly waxed surface appears to have shiny and dull areas. If the solvent in the paste wax has not fully evaporated the buffing cloth will pick up the solvent and use it like a wax stripper, removing any dry wax as you attempt to buff the surface. If the paste wax is left on too long, it simply is harder to buff out. In any case, one should not be alarmed; this can easily be corrected in either instance by simply applying another coat of paste wax.
 
How Often Should You Apply Paste Wax? 
That depends greatly on how often the surface is used and cleaned. A surface used frequently gets cleaned and dusted more frequently. Every time a waxed surface is “wiped”, minute amounts of wax are removed. Eventually, there is not enough wax on the surface to buff to a shine. This is when a fresh coat of wax should be applied. Maintaining a waxed surface is easy. It needs only to be dusted with a soft cloth. If the waxed surface becomes dirty, a slightly moistened cloth may be helpful in removing the dirt. If that does not work, try a fresh coat of paste wax.
 
Robin Richardson
Furniture Designer/Maker/Restorer
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