I have an antique
buffet which appears to have a wax build up on the finish. I have
tried washing it with a wood soap and the finish seems sticky and
whitish. Is there a way to remove this build up (maybe it is from
spray cleaners like pledge) without disturbing the patina?
If the problem is a wax
or polish build-up it can be removed with VMP Naphtha. This
thinner/solvent will not harm any finish in good condition. Soak a
clean lent free cotton rag with the thinner and wash the surface
with light pressure. Let the thinner sit on the surface for a few
minutes to soften and dissolve the wax. Use a second clean dry rag
to pick-up the dissolved wax and thinner mixture. This is usually
done several times to remove heavy wax build-up. Let dry an hour
then re-wax using a paste wax. This process should only be done in
a well ventilates area and with no source of open flame or sparks
near. Not a project you should perform in your living room.
If it is the finish itself that is sticky; that means that the
finish has softened and is deteriorated. Any time you see a
whitish, milking looking splotches or white ring marks, this is an
indication that the finish has deteriorated as evidenced by the
moisture that has impregnated it. Cleaning a deteriorated finish
with a solvent like VMP will also remove some or all of the soft finish
with the old wax. Test in a small spot first to see if the finish
will wash off with the old wax. A soft sticky finish is not
repairable. The item needs refinishing to correct the problem and
provide protection to the wood.
Also read: Wax, Polish, Oil:
Which Is Best?