I just finished putting the last coat on finish on my daughters coffee table and
she asked what type of furniture polish is good.
It has a tung oil/linseed oil/varnish finish(Sam Maloof) it has ten coats of
this finish on it now and has been drying 48 hours since the last one. It's also
Typical polishes are actually either bad for the finish, contain
silicone, or marketing snake oil.
Dust is best removed with a lightly dampened cloth. Luster can be
achieved with an occasional paste waxing.
Bob Flexner and Jeff Jewitt both discuss caring for finished finishes
in their respective books on finishes.
Supposedly if silicone oil gets into the pores of the wood it makes
refinishing very difficult.
I made a table for my Mom an told her NO pledge! She use to drench our
furniture with that crap as a kid.
Anything (almost). The difference between a "polish" and a "finish" is
that your finishes really ought to seal the wood against exposure to any
likely future polishes. The relative strengths of "seal" and "polish"
could thus vary between different types of piece.
A "polish" is never (or shouldn't be) a finish. It shouldn't build up
(the problem with the oil and vinegar "cleaner" formulations). Nor
should it "protect against everyday spills" - that's what the finish was
for. If you really are going to use this piece as a dog toy or a bar
top, then finish it accordingly, don't expect the polish to do the work.
Really the most important thing a polish does is to act as a dust
attractor while you wipe the piece over periodically. It's useful more
as a cleaner than as an additive.
Most polishes have some waxy component and this does get left behind.
This is a good effect - it shouldn't build up too much (the fresh polish
removes a lot onto your rag as it applies the new). It does however add
patina (basically a hand-rubbed wax polish layer) over time. This
effect is more pronounced on old bare wood finishes though. On french
polish, or on modern finishes, then you just don't need anything like so
much of it - the finish is giving you finished effect as it is.
I polish my medieval oak repro stuff with a soft beeswax polish on an
electric drill and a rotating nylon brush. Yes, every time I dust the
stuff that hasn't sold yet. There's no finish on the timber at all and
this is all it's ever had. This is a polish that really builds patina,
and needs to. OTOH, I never polish my lacquered work at all, just wipe
it over lightly with a soft cloth.
For something like a Maloof oil finish then I'd use that same soft
beeswax polish on a cloth. Maloof designs are also nice for not having
sharp internal corners where polish can build up.
I wouldn't use an aerosol wax. Too much packaging. It's really only
useful for post-war '50s-modernist design stuff, big wide flat areas
with hard lacquers on them. For anything older or more complex in shape,
the polishing time is so much more complex and longer than the
application time that spraying is no quicker than wiping from a tin.
As to silicones, then they're no problem in a polish at all. A nightmare
in finishes, but they're OK when applied separately afterwards. Again
they're not a great deal of benefit outside the Jetsons' school of
design, but they don't actually hurt. They would hust refinishing, but
that's a long way off and you can cope with that in time if you ever
needed too. Silicones on a piece are more easily removed and disposed of
than silicones wafting around a workshop and onto your saw tables. For
a coffee table than a deliberate application of a silicone-loaded paste
wax might even be worth doing.
Then don't even think about polishing it for a month. Maybe longer in a
cold climate. Oils take a _long_ time to cure properly, and a couple of
years to get close to fully cured - even that's no more than 90%.
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