How to remove excess wax from furniture

Holidays are a chance to sit back and relax, entertain friends and family, and also a way to catch up on all those projects you wanted to complete during the year but just never seemed to find the time. In this project we explain the best way to remove excess wax from vintage furniture before you restore or paint.


In our Decorating section we offer various tips, tricks and techniques for sanding and painting furniture, but that doesn't help much if your piece is covered with layer after layer of wax polish. Quite a lot of vintage or secondhand buys will be covered in layers of wax polish and getting rid of these layers of wax needs to be done before you can move on to any additional steps.

Built up wax polish can't be removed by normal sanding, unless you want to spend a fortune on sanding paper and spend hours sanding. The wax simply clogs up sandpaper, and as you sand the wax heats up, making it even more difficult to remove. The best way to remove excess wax is to start with fine steel wool and mineral turpentine. This will remove the upper layers of wax that haven't degraded over the years.

Depending on how many layers of wax there are, it may take some time to get down to raw wood. But the finished cabinet shows that the hard work is worth it. If you find areas of wax that are difficult to remove, use a heat gun to burn off the wax. This is not as dangerous as it sounds! The heat evaporates the old wax and makes it easier to rub off with mineral turpentine and fine steel wool.

After removing all the old wax polish you are ready to repair, restore or paint. See our Decorating section for tips, tricks and techniques to restore, stain, seal, varnish or paint your piece.