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Fixing Wax Finish Mistake?

Posted by pmacbee (My Page) on
Fri, May 13, 11 at 18:11

After stripping, sanding, painting (many coats, with many sandings), and spray poly protecting an ugly old walnut veneer dresser, I had it looking great, with a satiny level of sheen. And then I screwed up the paste wax finish--in two different ways. On the body I'm not sure what happened--I suspect I put on too thick a second coat and hand-buffed maybe before it was completely dry? In any event, it has some beautiful high gloss areas that show up in sharp relief to more matte areas--and you can clearly see that the wax in the glossy areas was applied in a circular motion. I tried going from hand buffing to a power buffer with no appreciable change, and then tried applying a very thin coat of the same Minwax over the old wax and then taking it immediately off which also made no difference to the mottled, swirl-line effect. What do I do at this point to get an even, slightly-glossier than-satin sheen? Do I need to sand/steel wool and start over? (Please say "no, of course not" :-) )

On the drawers, I had just put a first thin coat of wax on the drawer fronts when my son had a major skateboard crash and we were off to the ER. Didn't get back to the drawers for three days, when the Minwax had dried very hard and hazy. Very hard to hand-rub. Used the power buffer on it which has improved it, but still looks a little cloudy, and not much sheen.

I've only refinished two other pieces of furniture before--winging it, but pretty successfully--so feel free to tell me I was using the wrong product, tools, methods, anything, as well as any thoughts on where you think I should go from here. Thanks so much for the help!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Fixing Wax Finish Mistake?

You can't rub out a polyurethane finish the same as you can shellac or non-poly varnish. It will always look somewhat hazy.
That may not be a problem if it's a real light color. You could attempt "satining" it with super fine steel wool going in one direction, not swirls. Then use a good furniture wax like Butchers or Johnson.

RE: Fixing Wax Finish Mistake?

Thanks! The other two pieces I did were white paint, and a pine that I wanted a low gloss finish on, so I didn't notice the haziness. This piece is black--big difference! A lesson learned.

RE: Fixing Wax Finish Mistake?

You can remove hardened wax with paint thinner and a lot of rags.

Use a brush to apply a decent film of paint thinner (horizontal surfaces work a lot better in keeping the thinner on the surface longer) let is sit a few minutes then wipe off the softened wax.

It can take repeated passes if the wax is hard and thick.

RE: Fixing Wax Finish Mistake?

Thank you! I was hoping there might be a way to remove the wax without sanding. Is the paint thinner likely to go through to the painted surface beneath the wax, though?

RE: Fixing Wax Finish Mistake?

"Is the paint thinner likely to go through to the painted surface beneath the wax, though?"

It depends on exactly what the finish below is, and even how long it has had to cure.

Latex type finishes may be affected (especially with scrubbing) while many others (lacquers, varnishes, catalyzed finishes, even shellac) are often unaffected.

Test in an inconspicuous location first.

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