How to Make and Use Beeswax Wood Furniture Polish
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Beeswax furniture polish is a safe, natural, and effective way to bring new life to wood furniture. You can use it to polish finished furniture, to clean up damaged pieces, or as a stand-alone finish on unfinished wood. It is also great for cutting boards!
When we purchased our home, the previous owners left a large, high quality bureau in the basement. It was a little beat up but its bones were good. After leaving it covered with a cloth in our garage for three years, I was determined to give in a new life as my new dresser.
I posted a photo of the bureau to my Instagram tribe and received a lot of suggestions for refinishing it. Two caught my attention. One suggested I just clean it and use it, damage and all. Another suggested sanding it down and polishing with beeswax.
After doing some research, combining suggestions from multiple online woodworkers and project pages, I came up with my own simple plan.
It all started with a simple recipe for beeswax furniture polish.
How to Make Beeswax Furniture Polish
While there are a variety of methods and proportions for making beeswax furniture polish, I chose to keep it to 2 simple ingredients:
- ¼ Cup Beeswax (obtain from a local beekeeper or online – clear or yellow are fine, but yellow will impart just a little bit of color to your wood, which can be especially great if you are applying it to an unfinished surface and want a little bit of tint). You will really only need a small amount to make 1/4 cup melted. I put 1/4 water into my bowl first to get an idea of how much I would have to fit it once melted, then poured the water out and added wax a little bit at a time while it melted to achieve that amount.
- ¾ Cup Mineral Oil (we used food grade mineral oil so that we could use the polish on a variety of surfaces, including our dining room table)
You can make furniture polish with olive oil, but mineral oil is cheaper by weight. Likewise, you can add lemon or other scents to furniture polish. I preferred the natural and subtle smell that the beeswax would provide. Keep it simple!
To make the beeswax furniture polish, simply melt your beeswax in a double boiler (or a ceramic bowl on top of a pot with water), then add the mineral oil and gently stir until it has come together. Once it is melted and combined, pour the hot liquid into a container (we used a ½ pint wide mouth jar so it would be easy to access the polish).
Leave your polish in a cool place and allow it to cool for about 2-3 hours. It will end up the consistency of a soft lip balm (much like our beeswax lip balm).
How to Refinish Furniture with Beeswax Furniture Polish
In our case, we were using the polish to bring an old piece of furniture back to life without heavy sanding or refinishing. You can also:
- Use beeswax polish as the final step in a furniture refinishing process;
- Use beeswax polish on a regular basis to keep furniture looking good;
- Use beeswax as the ONLY coat on a piece of unfinished wood.
Here is the processed we used on our old bureau:
Step One: Clean the Wood
If you are truly refinishing furniture using beeswax polish, you’ll want to do a thorough cleaning before polishing. Here you have a couple of options.
If you are removing paint or a lot of build-up, we recommend an all natural paint remover like Citristrip. This all-natural citrus based cleaner is applied to wood and allowed to rest, then helps to peel off old paint to take it down to natural wood. You may have to apply a few times to remove all of the paint.
If you are not trying to remove anything, but want to clean the wood thoroughly, you can use paint thinner on a soft, clean cloth to clean the surface of your wood. This will help to remove any old waxy build up as well as any dirt. Use long strokes that follow the grain of the wood, especially on top. We also used a tooth brush to clean inside of the groves on our bureau. Be sure to wear gloves and to do this in a well-ventilated area (or outside). You won’t be bothered by the fumes of the paint thinner.
Step Two: Dry
After cleaning, allow the wood to dry completely (2-3 hours) – hint, this is a great time to actually make your beeswax furniture polish!
Step Three: Apply Beeswax Furniture Polish
Apply the beewax furniture polish using a clean, dry cloth – one that will not leave fuzz on your surface. We used old napkins that had been washed). To apply, scoop up a bit of polish on your cloth then rub into the surface of the wood using circular motion. Be sure to cover the entire surface.
Once you have applied fully, go back over the polish with long swipes along the grain of the wood. Clean up any immediate excess polish and smooth out the surface.
Step Four: Allow Beeswax Furniture Polish to Absorb
Allow the polish to sink into the wood for about 15 minutes.
Step Five: Buff the Wood
Buff the polish by going over it again with a fresh clean cloth to remove excess greasiness. Again, follow the grain of the wood as much as possible and clean any wax built up in nooks and crannies.
Step Six: All the Beeswax Furniture Polish to Cure
Allow the wax to fully cure in a warmish room for 12-24 hours before moving.
Step Seven: Admire!
Step back and admire your beautiful piece!
Check out these before and after pictures to see the results when using beeswax furniture polish after cleaning an old piece of wood furniture.
PS – Beeswax Furniture Polish also makes a nice gift 😊