Winters in Australia aren’t nearly as severe as those back in Ireland and England, but the recent daytime highs of 12°C to 16°C (54°F to 61°F) provide near optimal conditions for waxing furniture.
Of course, waxing can be undertaken at any time of the year, but even the quick flash-off wax polish I make doesn’t completely harden in the warmer months, making it more awkward to obtain a good lustre during summer.
At this time of year I can use a much slower (and heavier) wax polish which, though more difficult to apply can, with a degree of effort, be pulled and manipulated to give a very convincing aged appearance. The wax hardens fairly rapidly in the cool temperatures enabling it to be buffed to the type of glorious lustre that fine British antiques are renowned for.
It can be quite the workout doing this heavy waxing; a benefit of which is, it keeps one warm in a cold shop.
Unlike varnishes, wax polish is not a one-time apply-and-forget finish: Wax needs to be replenished at least annually and, in its various forms, can make a significant contribution to the patina on an antique or the aged appearance of a reproduction. The proverb “you can’t make a silk purse of a sow’s ear” holds just as true for waxing furniture: A beautiful waxy finish is only as good as the surface it’s applied over.
As part of the regular upkeep of my furniture, I have been waxing several items and just finished giving the recently completed walnut serpentine chest its second waxing. The results are subtle, but gratifying.