Wax polishing like in times gone by

Wax polishing is probably the oldest known finishing technique. This technique bestows the furniture with a semi-gloss satin finish and its basic element is virgin beeswax.

Beeswax. Beeswax is secreted solely be worker bees aged between 12 and 17 days in the form of fine scales and may vary in colour from yellowish to brownish, depending on the purity and the type of flowers gathered by the bees. The wax used for polishing fine furniture is obtained by mixing solely with hot water, without the addition of other substances, and is called “virgin wax”.


The phases of the process

The base. Following any consolidation work on the structure of the piece, stuccoing, woodworm infestation treatment and mordanting, turpentine is rubbed over the piece with a cloth to clean its surfaces and then “paglierino” oil (a yellow vegetable-based oil) is applied and it is let to rest. Following this, some layers of shellac are applied, which serves as a base for the actual wax.

Waxing. Once the shellac has dried, a semi-liquid mixture made up of beeswax dissolved in a little turpentine essence is prepared and applied to the surface is a fine, even layer.

Finishing. Once the drying period has finished, waxing begins, using a gently warmed woollen cloth: this allows the wax to be distributed evenly on the surfaces, bestowing the piece of furniture with a semi-gloss, satin finish.