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Posts Tagged ‘pure turpentine’

It’s been a while since my last post (summer, new job …) but today’s a public holiday and it’s beautiful outside. Perfect conditions for cleaning wooden chairs with some home-made furniture cleaner. This is yet another tip I picked up during that French polishing course I mentioned in my post about applying beeswax.


all four chairs dirty

I made these chairs back in the 1990s. The wood is Australian ash and I finished them with Danish oil. I’m pretty sure today is the first time I’ve given them a good clean. They’re not really that dirty – except for all the spots where they get handled a lot, in particular the back rails (as you can see in the photo below).

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About 20 years ago I did an 8-part French polishing course. The instructor was a real craftsman, and he covered more ground than just ‘Applying Shellac for Dummies’. Most of the techniques I use for stripping and finishing furniture are ones I learned from him. This is what he taught me about applying beeswax. 


Beeswax gives a more sympathetic, though slightly duller finish than French polishing – and it makes the surface a bit more waterproof.

beeswax, turps, steelwool and old towellingIt’s best to make up your own beeswax to ensure its purity. Avoid any commercial products that aren’t pure (for example, ones that have paraffin added to them).

What you need:

  • a lump of beeswax
  • pure turpentine (or mineral turps will do)
  • a container to put the wax in
  • fine steelwool (000 grade)
  • old cotton towelling (not flat-weave cloth) cut up into rags

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