Helpful Tips When Restoring Antique Furniture

Helpful Tips When Restoring Antique Furniture

Below are some handy hints and tips on how to restore antique furniture. Some of these methods are used by our restorers when cleaning our quality pieces before they go up for sale.

The correct method to apply Wax on Antique Furniture

Antique furniture should always have the original finish preserved and the best way to do this is by using a wax finish as it is very easy to apply, it will clean any old dirt and keep the finish on your antique furniture looking attractive. There can be very bad streaks, smudging and dullness if applies incorrectly so below is how to correctly apply the wax to your furniture.

Before you start ensure the surface is clean and dry, clean the surface with a cloth and if it is very dirty you can use a moist cloth sometimes by adding a tiny amount of vinegar to the water (but ensure it is very diluted), this will remove some of the dirt and dust that has built up over the years. To get the dust out of the nooks and crannies try using a soft bristled dusting brush or even a tooth brush. The furniture wax will act as the main cleaner as it removes some grease and dirt so don’t worry about the first stage too much. The biggest mistake when applying furniture wax, is applying too much at once as this will make it difficult to buff up and if not buffed up correctly it will act as a dust collector leaving your finish dull. The correct way to apply antique furniture wax is to use a soft, clean cotton or lint free cloth and apply the furniture wax by dipping the cloth into the can of wax and rub the wax on in a small circular motion over the entire wood surface sparingly. Rub the wax in vigorously but thinly and then finish by applying the wax in the direction of the grain. Once applied i would recommend to wait for around 30 – 60 minutes to ensure it is dry and it has soaked into your wood surface, before buffing up. To get the desired finish buff the wax up by using a clean cloth (preferably an old piece of toweling) and buff the surface in the direction of the grain. The more buffing you do the higher the sheen you get and the more thin applications you apply using the same method the better the finish you will achieve. I would use this process around once every three months as not only will it keep your furniture looking fine but it will also protect the wood and ensure your furniture will last for hundreds more years, so can be passed down through the generations of your family.

Different ways to Clean and Revive Antique Furniture

If it is simply just to revive the dullness then firstly try waxing the piece with a good fiddes wax (available on our website) but if the surface is mucky and slightly cloudy surface will need to be cleaned either using our polish revive or mix four parts white spirit to one part boiled linseed oil and put onto a clean linen cloth and rub into the finish in the direction of the grain and if the muck is really dirty try some very fine 0000 wire wool with the solution on but only test a small section first. As the cloth gets dirty use a fresh cloth otherwise you will be rubbing the dirt back in.

To finish off wipe the surface with white spirit on a clean cloth in the direction of the grain and once dry, give the piece of antique furniture a very good wax (if you use a coloured wax this will hide some old dents and scratches). But if you want a simple modern alternative, buy a bottle of polish reviver from our website as this is a ready mixed formula and works extremely well.

How to treat antique furniture with woodworm

Most people panic on the sight of woodworm holes but if there are holes this does not necessarily mean the woodworm is alive or it is spreading throughout your home. Most people can easily treat their antique furniture themselves unless the furniture is so badly infested, it is structurally weakened. If this is the case then always seek professional advice from a good antiques restorer.

If the woodworm damage is slight and there are the usual small holes then the best thing to do is to purchase a commercial woodworm killing fluid as these are very effective due to modern liquids. Usually you need to paint it over the areas or inject direct into the hole. Some bottles come with an injecting nozzle and these are usually the best as you simply Insert the nozzle into the holes and squirt the liquid. Treat the entire affected area where holes can be seen and as a precaution maybe re treat after a few days. We also recommend to, brush the liquid over all the area as well to be on the safe side. Please also wear gloves as it is quite nasty stuff and you do not want it on your skin.

Restoring holes and cracks 

Antique furniture often has wear and tear due to age and use and it is quite common to see small holes from old woodworm or use and cracks from shrinkage due to temperature variations. This can sometimes be fixed very easily by using some of our repair king wax sticks. They come in different colours so get the closest to the colour of the wood and if it is not quite right try to mix two together by warming the wax in your hand first. Before applying the wax stick, warm it in your hand and use the plastic spatula provided. Scrape some of the wax off of the stick and press it firmly into the hole or crack. Scrape any excess off and with some soft cardboard paper carefully rub it smooth. One the holes or crack is filled wax over the top with a good quality furniture wax. Some people like to see honest marks and cracks as this is original to the piece and comes with antique furniture but if it bothers you this is a simple and in expensive way to fix the problem and it does not cause any damage to the piece as long as it is done correctly.

We offer two different types of wax stick, the first is medium in colours and is for woods such as Oak, Cherry, Teak, lighter shades of mahogany and lighter walnut shades and Antique Pine wood. The other wax stick we supply is for Dark coloured woods such as dark oak, dark mahogany and darker walnut shades of wood.

How to get annoying paint marks off antique furniture

There is nothing more annoying than small splatters of paint on your antique furniture and especially if you have accidentally done it yourself. Different paints do different damage but the first thing you must do is as soon as you see any wet paint on your piece, wipe it off immediately whilst it is still wet and easily removed.

If it is dry paint then water based paint will still wipe off with a damp cloth.

If it is an emulsion or acrylic paint then the best thing to do is to get a clean rag and put a small amount of methylated spirit on to the cloth. put the cloth onto the area for a short time, maybe lay the cloth on top of the paint for around twenty and then remove the cloth. Now very gently scrape the paint with your fingernail or a soft piece of wood and this should take the paint off. Very often the paint can penetrate the polish and you end up with patches of bare wood. The easiest way to resolve this is to very slightly dampen some cotton wool with white spirit and very gently rub over the area and just over the surrounding area in small circles. The white spirit will dissolve the old layers of polish and when it dries the old polish will dry and should re form over the area so the area is now polished. Once the polish is dry and has re formed, gently rub some wax or furniture oil with a soft cloth.

We always recommend to try a small area before doing the entire piece as some polishes react differently to others so by testing a small patch first in an area not too visible to be on the safe side.

How to Remove Oil or Grease from Antique Furniture

If you accidentally spill oil or butter onto your antique table top whilst cooking it can look a bit of a mess but can also blend in as it is an old piece of antique furniture so marks are expected. There are two things you can do and which one you choose is dependent on if you want the mark completely removed or just blended in. If you are happy to see marks on your antique table top and it is just another mark on the top to go with the rest the just try rubbing over the affected area and then over the entire top with a good furniture wax. Once the wax has had time to dry and soak into the wood give the top a good buff up with a clean cloth.

If you want the oil completely removed then firstly you will need to strip off the old finish using a good paint or polish stripper. Once that is done neutralise the stripper using a white spirit and when dry mix some talcum powder with some methylated spirit. mix it into a thick paste and then put it onto the affected area to dry over night. The powder should draw the oil out of the wood (this is not always guaranteed) and then sand the top slightly and re polish. On the second option it is always best to give to a professional restorer as you can sometimes do more damage than good if you do not do it correctly.

I personally think marks on antique furniture are part and parcel of a piece over 100 years old so do not worry too much as it just adds to the character of the furniture.

Cleaning Handles and fittings on Antique Furniture

Antique furniture has lots of different metal fittings like handles, hinges, key escutcheons, tilting bolts, locks, clash moulds, pulls, brackets and castors. These fittings are usually made from brass, copper or iron and if they have dullness and age I personally recommend leaving this as it is part of the character and you expect to see signs of age on the metal fittings. If the marks bother you and you want to clean the fittings, you must firstly remove all the fittings as cleaning solution on the wood will damage the polish. You can use any metal cleaner that can be purchased at a supermarket as these are as good as any other cleaning product that we have used in the past. Apply the cleaning solution with a piece of cotton wool or leave the handles etc to soak in the liquid for 30 minutes and then clean using a cloth or cotton wool. For badly rusted metal use cleaning solution with fine wire wool. I would just leave them to show the years of use adding to the character of your piece of antique furniture.

Steam out Dents

If you accidentally get a dent in your piece of antique furniture (usually by dropping something on the surface ) then there is a method to remove this but it can only be used if the surface is to have the old finish stripped off and can only be used on solid wood rather than veneered wood. The first thing to do is to strip the old polish off from the surface, then dampen a large piece of cloth and fold it to roughly the size of an iron. Turn on an iron at a low setting and put the cloth over the dent. Put the iron on the damp cloth and hold for a short while and then check the dent. The wood will start to swell and so the dent will start to disappear. You may have to do this process a few times to get a result but be careful not to burn the wood by leaving the iron on too long and keep the cloth damp. The problem with this method is you then need to rub down the surface with sanding paper and then re polish the surface. With this kind of repair we usually recommend to seek the advice of an antiques restorer first as you may well do more damage than good if it is a really good piece of antique furniture and we also have wax sticks to fill small dents so this may also be an easier option?

Removing Water Ring Marks

It can be very annoying when you get a water mark from a vase or drink on the surface of your antique furniture and to try to remove it is to firstly try our polish reviver that we sell on our website as this also removes most rings from water. It will also revive the polish so you get the added bonus of a clean polished piece of antique furniture. Always finish off by using a good quality antique furniture bees wax like the Fiddes wax on our website for sale.

The alternative is to heat a small amount of olive oil and stir about quarter the amount of paraffin wax into the warm oil so they blend together. Rub the mixed liquid with a clean cloth into the ring mark and leave for a few hours. Buff off the excess and if it has not worked repeat several times until the desired effect. Always wax over the area when finished

The last thing to try is to mix potato flour with white vinegar until you gat a thick paste. Put this paste over the ring mark and leave overnight. Remove the dry paste the next day and wax the surface.

There are a few tips but the easiest is obviously using our antiques polish reviver or you can always seek the advice of a furniture restorer as there are other ways to burn the ring mark out using mentholated spirit but this is quite dangerous so I will not add this method to the tips to be on the safe side.

Burn marks on antique furniture

Burn marks by a cigarette or larger areas by open fires on antique furniture can be very difficult to repair and in most cases it is best to seek the advice of a professional antique furniture restorer to repair it. If it is a piece of antique furniture that you do not mind having a go yourself lesser pieces, try the remedy for discoloration below, but note that unless the mark is fairly superficial and the underlying wood is not charred, you may have little success. If it is a burn by a cigarette or a large burn on the side cut the area out carefully using a chisel and try to get similar grained wood or veneer to fit into its place. Re polish to match the rest of the piece. Smaller burns can be cut out and hard coloured wax used to fill the areas.

Smaller burns from a hot pan try to heat some olive oil and add a small amount of paraffin wax into the warm oil so they blend together. Rub the mixture with a clean cloth into the burned area and then leave it for a few hours. Once it has been left and had time to soak in buff off any excess liquid and you may need to repeat this process several times to get a result. Once you are happy polish the area with a good quality antique furniture wax. If this process does not work try to gently rub polish reviver into the burn mark using a soft clean cloth. When the mark is starting to look more natural again wax using a good furniture wax.

These methods are not guaranteed to work so try small areas first but the best advice with such damage is to seek advice from a good furniture restorer who specialises in antiques.

How to Remove Candle Wax

On pieces of antique furniture it can be a good effect to have lit candles in a candelabra but this can cause the wax to drip onto the wood surface and leave bobbles of wax. The best way to remove the wax is to firstly wipe off with a clean cloth as soon as you notice it has dripped but this will only work if the wax is still warm and soft. If the wax has cooled and hardened then the best way to deal with this is to put some crushed ice into a plastic seal-able bag (a sandwich bag will do) and put this into a soft cloth. Put the ice in cloth onto the hard wax and leave it on there for approximately 5 minutes. Take the cold cloth off and the wax will now be very brittle so now you can carefully scrape off the wax with preferably with your fingernail or a blunt square end of a small piece of wood. To finish off we always recommend putting some antique furniture wax on the area with a soft cloth and waxing the entire surface around the mark to blend in any marks left. The wax will also protect the surface for any future wax spilling and will enhance the patina. We do stock good quality antique furniture wax so see our website for details.

How to remove ink stains from antique furniture

On antique furniture, especially antique desks and bureaux you can often see old ink stains. I personally like to see this on antique furniture and would prefer to leave it on the pieces as they are antique and come with character marks from years of use but if this is something that really bothers you then here is a tip on how to remove it. The unfortunate thing is that the older the ink stain is then the harder the ink stain is to remove. There are different things to try to remove ink stains and not all are guaranteed, and I always suggest trying a small area first before putting it all over the piece just in case it reacts badly with the wood. The first thing to try is to put a small amount of white vinegar with cotton wool onto the ink stain and gently rub. You can also try to rub a small amount of lemon juice with cotton wool onto the ink stain.  Try to put a mixture of lemon juice and table salt with cotton wool and rub gently into the area.

Try to put some very weak solution of hydrogen peroxide diluted with four parts water with cotton wool but make sure you rinse off with water and dry with kitchen roll before adding any polish on top.

After the ink stain is removed (hopefully one of these methods will work) make sure the area is dry and use a wood stain to darken the area to the colour of the surrounding wood. Finish off by waxing using a good furniture wax.

Can you polish antique furniture using linseed oil?

The answer is yes but only if you do it correctly as it can leave a build up of a sticky finish if not done correctly. The correct method is to rub boiled linseed oil into the wood using a clean lint free cloth. Rub in oil very vigorously until the wood looks replenished and won’t soak up any more linseed oil.

With your cloth rub off the excess oil and leave the piece of antique furniture to dry over night. Do this same procedure every day for a week but remember to leave the drying times over night. One you have finished after a week make sure you buff up using lots of pressure with a clean cloth and the better you buff up the better the finish will be. To keep the finish looking good, use the above method every few months but only one or two applications will be necessary.

75 thoughts on “Helpful Tips When Restoring Antique Furniture

  1. Thanks for the tips! I have a few pieces of antique furniture that my parents left to me. The wood is gorgeous, but very dull. Your tip to use linseed oil correctly by using a clean lint free cloth will help me to give it the polish and shine that my wooden antique pieces need. It’s a good thing that you mentioned to use a lint free cloth to rub off the excess oil so that it won’t leave a sticky finish. I want a smooth finish, so now that I know how to use linseed oil correctly I can give my furniture the shine that it needs.

  2. Your comment about using a wax finish, was interesting. I had never thought of doing a furniture restoration job with wax. But, that seems like a great idea. It will preserve the old paint, and it will be easier than refinishing the whole thing. Thanks for sharing your great tips and comments.

  3. Antique furniture can be so lovely, and carry so much more sentimentality than regular furniture. A friend of mine has a hobby of restoring things like this, and his results are beautiful. He wanted me to get into it as well, but I just wasn’t that confident in my knowledge about these types of things. This is why it was incredibly helpful to read your article! I will be trying this out soon, thank you!

  4. I found a few antique pieces for my home, however, I want to do some cleaning to make them look more polished. That being said, I appreciate the tip you give to try waxing to revive the dullness to the piece. This is a super simple remedy and can do a lot to make the piece look better. I will definitely try it out. Thank you for sharing!

  5. My grandmother recently passed away and left behind all of this beautiful antique furniture. It is a bit old and could definitely use some refinishing but there is potential! I think that it would look absolutely beautiful in our living room because my husband and I live in an older home. I can see how cleaning the furniture before doing the job can result in a much better job. Thanks for sharing!

  6. What a great website for the self restorer. Have just bought two small old oval tables for the sun room that need a freshen-up.
    I know the object lesson here is never try to make the item look new, so your open detailed information has hammerd this home. Superb.
    Regards Graham.

  7. Thank you for the helpful tips! I found a very cool antique closet at my grandmother’s basement and I would love to restore it! It is a beautiful piece and I want to do everything right. I first need to clean it very well and then do the rest! Thanks for the tips! Greets!

  8. I have purchased a large oak drop leaf table with barley twist legs, it was secured with string and green tape while I transported it home, once home I realised that the green tape was sticky tape so on removal has left a band of removed varnish on one side, I’m so upset and would like advice on what to do please? Thank you and merry Christmas

    1. Hi
      Unfortunately if it has taken off the old polish you would need to seek advice from a restorer to complete the repair as it is very difficult to colour match old polish. It may even be easier to re polish the side rather than touch it in, dependant on the size of the area.
      Kind regards

  9. hi i was wondering if you could help me please, i have been restoring a welsh dresser, i used varnish remover to take the old varnish off, then sanded it all back down to bare wood, i then used rustins light oak dye, followed by a first coat of rustins shellack sanding sealer, allowing this to dry i then followed the instructions and lightly sanded it all down, this is where my problems began, on removing the dust and wiping down well with a damp cloth i allowed that to dry then applied a second coat of shellac half and half with white spirits as instructed, since then i have had a white film like dust on the surface, after lots of attempts of removing this with dampened cloth it still keeps coming back, i cannot wax the dresser until i solve this problem, have you any good solutions to this other than removing the shellack completely and starting again, thank you jenny

    1. Hi
      I would try two things. first I would just try to wax an area first to see if this solves the problem as the wax will nourish the area and this may get rid of the white. alternatively I would lightly pad back the entire piece and stain it again. then I would wax over the area. always try a small area first. one other option is to pad back the piece and coat over the top with French polish but this will make it more shiny. If this does not work unfortunately you may need to strip the entire piece again. I do not like working with white spirit because of this problem, methylated spirits is usually far better.
      I hope this helps

  10. I have a French bureau made in 1870 of rosewood with walnut inlay. The piece is lacquered/ shellacked? but have notice that the shelf over the desktop, has in places started cracking and some of the inlay has actually lifted leaving a rough surface. I do keep the bureau in a dark corner of the room so not sure what has caused this cracking apart from age and can you give me some advice as to what can be done to restore it? Thank you.

      1. Hi
        It has probably dried out from central heating over time, unfortunately i would recommend a furniture restorer to view this as it would be difficult to repair without experience
        Kind regards

  11. We recently purchased an antique bed- it is early 1900s with oak veneered panels with lovely inlays. Now in the light of the room where it will live we can see it has a hard, clear finish which has cracked and crazed. It is also a little dirty but otherwise the wood is sound. Having bought it quite cheaply we would like it to look as good as possible, but we want to be kind- especially to the inlaid sections. Would a solvent be damaging to the glue? We would appreciate any advice, and can send a photo if need be.

    1. Hi
      Its difficult to tell from your description, if you can email some pictures I may be able to help better
      Many thanks

  12. Hi, I’ve tried to french polish but find it dries very fast is there a oil i can use to allow it to be applied a lot smoother. Regards Mark

  13. I have an 1820s mahogany chest A friend gave me flowers that had a leak in the face. Hence, I have a large white section in the middle of the chest. I’ve used mayonnaise, which has helped, but there is still a soft white section. Should I apply the mayonnaise again? I’ve also heard that a hair dryer over a white t shirt is effective.

    Many thanks.

  14. Wow! Great info for restoring antiques! Can you advise me as to what to use to restore my leather collar boxes?

  15. Hi, I have been given a solid walnut chest with mirror/drawers, from the late 1800’s. It was used for many years by my grandparents, was then in storage for 10+ years. We just brought it out and I am wondering what to use to restore the wood. It is quite dull. Not grimy/dirty, just dull/dry looking. Linseed oil? The piece also has marble slab on the top, curious if you have any suggestions on how to clean that up? There are some stains on it.

    Thank you.

  16. Thanks for this helpful article! I have an Georgian pine bookcase (which may once have had paint or stain which is now removed) as well as an early 19th century pine dresser base. The wood on both is quite dry. I wondered if you thought they would benefit from a clear wax polish – or are they best left as is? Thanks

    1. Hi
      I would always recommend using a clear wax to nourish the wood as if it becomes too dry it will start to split

  17. Our family has a hand carved Teak wood chest that my uncle ordered and watched made over seas. It is about 80 years old. It has only been dusted. What is the best way to condition the wood.

  18. I have inherited an 1870’s bedroom suite made out of walnut. Most of the finish looks fine. I have had someone look at it and they thought it was not stained, just oiled. It has turned a beautiful slightly redish color over time. The back of the dresser is moldy. I have been using a dish soap and warm water to clean off the mold. Would you suggest using linseed oil to go over the entire piece after cleaning or would you recommend a wax?

    1. Hi
      I would recommend a wax as linseed oil can leave certain finishes sticky whereas wax will leave a more smooth finish

      1. James,
        Thanks for your reply. Would it be possible to send you a couple of photos? The back of the headboard is darker than the front but doesn’t get lighter with cleaning. Also, would you be able to pin point a date for me or even the manufacturer? I know it’s between 1870-1880s, as it has been in my husband’s family. They lived in the midwest [State of Minnesota & Iowa].
        For those areas in the back of the dresser, which had substantial mold and had to cleaned down to bare wood, would you use the linseed oil as originally done, then use the wax as a finishing touch?

  19. James,
    Thanks for your reply.
    For those areas in the back of the dresser, which had substantial mold and had to cleaned down to bare wood, or for those spots that are exceedingly dry, would you use the linseed oil as originally done, then use the wax as a finishing touch?

  20. I have a corner chair which I think is Edwardian or Victorian with dark wood. It is quite scratched and the finish has got worn away in certain areas. I’ve tried applying scratch fluid but it dries with a matt finish and the whole chair needs a good clean. I will be upholstering it once the frame is sorted. Please can you recommend something. I can send a photo if this helps.

  21. Is it possible to rescue a small table that had a candle (night-light) placed directly on to the surface whilst alight? The surface finish looks melted!


  22. Hi,

    I have an old oak table which we wax using Fiddes. A pottery dish was placed directly on the surface, having removed the dish it has left a dark circle on the table, looks damp. What would you recommend is best to do?

    Many thanks

    1. Hi
      Unfortunately, this will probably have to be re polished. If you are in the Lancashire area or you can get the table to us, we can offer a quote to do this for you if you like?
      Kind regards

  23. Hi James, a friend of mine came across what we think is a late 1800’s chest of drawers. It was rescued from a leaky shed, he says it was quite wet when he found it but has since been left to dry for about 8 months. It’s made of English walnut. We want to lightly sand the entire thing and may have to plane the drawers to refit. What finish would be best to restore It’s original appearance? Thanks

  24. Hi
    I have just bought an old ladies writing desk with a leather insert. The desk itself is in fairly good condition apart from round the edge of the top which looks “well used”! I have two questions;
    1. How do I clean the leather insert?
    2. Would it be reasonable for me to re polish (French) the edge of the table top ( I’ve never attempted this before) ?
    Many Thanks

    1. Hi
      With the leather I would just use a wax like or a good leather wax. With the edge, without experience I would not recommend to french polish, instead I would use a polish revive like
      to clean the edge and then wax it in the same wax as above
      I hope this helps
      Kind regards

  25. Hi. I have bought an antique Louis XV style bed & armoire for our house in France. Its had a bit of woodworm, some of may still be active…so I’ve already given it 2 coats of Xylophene (the powerful French woodworm treatment) I plan to give it a 3rd coat soon. However, I also want to give the furniture a good clean before waxing…and was planning on using Liberon cleaner. However my question is…Should I have cleaned BEFORE I treated for woodworm?…and will using a cleaning product now have a detrimental effect on the 2 coats of Xylophene I’ve already applied? Many thanks. Great site!

    1. Hi
      You will be fine to clean as the wood worm killer would have already done its job and soaked into the wood. It may be best to clean, re treat and then, once dry wax over again. When treating woodworm, try to ensure you can inject into the holes.

  26. Hello,

    First of all, thanks for the very helpful tips. This is a great blog!

    I have a late Victorian / Edwardian Mahogany drop-leaf dining table that has, rather foolishly, been varnished with a dark-ish gloss varnish. This was a botched job and It now looks awful and cheap. My question is, can this table be saved? What would the process be? I’ve been told it would need to be stripped back to bare wood using a varnish remover, but can the shine even be restored now that the original coat is covered? What do you recommend?

    Many thanks!

      1. Thanks James, your reply is much appreciated!

        If I was to strip it myself, do you recommend a particular product for waxing/polishing?

  27. Hello James
    My question is I have purchased a french bed not sure of the wood but it could possibly be walnut or mahogany, I have treated it for woodworm and waxed the holes but now need to give it a finish, some of it has a semi sheen other parts look to have had water damage do I take the semi sheen off? what do I use? the biggest problem for me is that it is carved, how do you put polish on and get an even look when you cannot flow with the cloth? HELP

  28. Hi!!! I just stumbled on this blog when researching how to keep an antique looking polished after waxing! I had to use a refinisher on the top of a handed down buffet (approx 100 years old) because it had so many places where the finish was beyond just polishing. I found a wax online that was recommended for pieces that a varnish/high gloss finish isn’t desirable (evidently is used in museums on their antiques). I put on a thin layer of the wax, buffed and let sit for 24 hours, then repeated 2 more times. It now looks just the way I would like it to stay. My question is, how does one keep it looking this way without using a polish? I don’t know how often it should be rewaxed, etc., etc.. Is there something recommended for keeping it looking fresh without rewaxing? Thanks in advance for any ideas/input you might have!!
    Debbie Riley

      1. Thanks James! My only other question would be . . . should the finish be cleaned off at some point, and the whole waxing process be started over? Will there not be a build up of the wax after a period of time? Thanks for your input!!

        1. Hi
          If it is cleaned properly in the first place and a good wax used, you should never have to clean back again as the wax will clean and protect it when you re coat

  29. Hello James,

    I plan to clean the legs and arms of a Victorian chair by using white spirit and wire wool, although I’ve read or heard that tupintine is better than white spirit. Can you answer the following four questions please:- (a) which is best Turpintine or white spirit.
    (b) Do I apply the “spirit” directly onto the wire wool.
    (c) When finished do I have to clean off the spirit or wipe down with water
    (d) Will this above cleaning procedure take the polish/shine out of the wood.
    Assuming it does, how do I get a really high shiny finish (almost as if it had
    been varnished effect.

    Many thanks


  30. Hello James
    A roof leak resulted in water spillage into some papers/magazines on my walnut table. As nobody was around for a few days,after removal of these items, the table has been scarred with extensive paper marks .Despite rubbing with Antiquax,Olive oil and white spirit, the marks are not disappearing. David.

    1. Hi
      I think you may need to seek a french polisher to resolve this as it probably will need to be re polished

  31. My grandmother gave me their Duncan Phyfe dining Room table and matching sideboard from the 1940’s. The finish on the top of the sideboard is beginning to crack on the edges, but remains smooth as glass in the center. Which product from your line do you recommend? Both the table & chairs are a dark wood; a cherrry or red mahogany would be my 1st and 2nd guesses.

    1. Hi
      The only thing you can try is the polish revive and then wax in something like the rich mahogany but if it’s cracking it may need to be looked at by a French polisher

  32. Can you tell me how to repair screw holes in a press wardrobe please.
    I have bought one that has been connected together using screws and there are numerous old screw holes that I would like to repair but I don’t know the correct way to do it.
    If you can help, I would appreciate it .
    Thank you

  33. I have just bought a Mahogany Victorian Scottish sideboard/buffet but the lower half has faded from sunlight. Is there anything I could use to try and darken it to match the top?

    1. Hi
      It really depends on how badly it is faded, if it is not too bad, try a coloured wax on the faded areas, you may need to apply several coats

  34. I have been able to obtain an oak, carved Jacobean “Bible” Box (of course they very rarely contained Bibles!) which is in pretty poor condition although sound – just badly neglected with a slightly warped top with myriad stains, very dry wood but lovely carving.
    I have no intention of totally ‘cleaning’ it (thus eradicating its character and history) but rather to try and bring back some basic colour (not dark necessarily), maybe try and reduce some of the staining but really to feed the wood and generally resuscitate a lovely old object. I should say that I already have several pieces from the same period – large chair, plank chest and table – all of which have beautiful patina.
    I want to avoid modern chemicals but instead to clean with small amounts of real turpentine (using a soft brush in the carving) followed by many coats of beeswax polish, lots or elbow grease and maybe some Briwax.
    Am I correct? or should I use one of the proprietary ‘antique restoring brews’ one sees in some hardware shops. any advice would be much appreciated. thank you.

    1. To Be honest I would probably just try the bees wax first as you will be amazed how much this will clean and colour your pieces.

  35. Hello

    I have a drop down table on wheels, which could also be used as a tea-wagon as has a handle at one end…
    I use it as a hall table – one leaf is dropped against the wall and the other at the front, the dust accumulates in the top of the hinged area. A cloth will not fit in the gap and have taken to using a damp/wet paint brush in the gap as a dry one was not removing anything of significance. It is rather unsightly and wondered if there was an easier way.
    BTW I use brasso along with elbow grease on tables that have had ring marks from hot pots etc and it has got them off. I did a section of a boardroom table that had a sticky gummy mess on it with Brasso and it came up beautifully and the MD asked me to polish the rest of the table. I gave the cleaner the job, I was the accountant.

    1. Hi
      I think using a brush is probably the best option. Brasso is ok on some finishes but can also damage some, so always test a small patch first.

  36. I have purchased a walnut bed in France which has been treated for woodworm with some form of liquid that has left a high gloss (almost lacquered) finish. Unfortunately the lacquer has started to peel off, leaving the wood underneath looking dry and pale. How can I remove the rest of the lacquer without damaging the wood, and then should I wax with one of your wax polishes – I use one with great effect on my walnut dining table.

    1. Hi
      Its difficult to say without seeing it but I would try waxing but applying the wax with 0000 very fine wire wool, this will remove some of the flaking polish and dull it down but hopefully leave a nice sheen. If this doesn’t work, you may have to strip the entire polish off using a nitromors paint stripper.

  37. Hello,

    I have an antique Chippendale style table which is made from mahogany. It was stripped and re waxed approx 4 years ago. Since then it has been kept looking nice with a monthly polish using Fiddes supreme wax. The top of the table is constructed of two pieces which runs length ways. Over the last 2 years I have noticed that the gap between the two pieces has got wider. I suspect that this is due to the central heating, however I have tried to compensate for this by increasing the humidity by placing 2 large vessels filled with water under the table. I would be grateful for any advice as to how I can improve the situation.

    1. Hi
      Yes, this will be from central heating, if it is getting worse, you may have to have the top removed, glue and clamp back together and then re attached. probably best to get a restorer to have a look at it for you

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