How to Polish a Wood Table


Knowing how to polish your wood table, whether you acquired it from a flea market or purchased a brand new table, will help you maintain its beauty for years to come. You can use wax and/or furniture polish on your wood table. Waxing works better than polishes to shine old wood tables or wood tables with some surface damage or scratches. Furniture polish removes dust and temporarily shines your wood table's surface. Before polishing a wood table, you must clean and condition the table first.

Things You'll Need

  • Clean rags
  • Mineral spirits
  • 0000 steel wool (optional)
  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Water
  • Paste wax made of beeswax or a vegetable-based paraffin
  • Soft, lint-free cloths
  • Furniture polish

Clean Your Table

  • Dip an old, clean rag into some mineral spirits and clean your wood table of grime.

  • Apply mineral spirits on the table, using 0000 steel wool to remove the dirt if you have an old table or a table with a heavy build-up of grime.

  • Clean your table using soapy water and another clean rag. Make soapy water with one capful of dishwashing detergent for each pint of water. Using mineral spirits followed by water to clean your wood table removes water-based and oil-based build-up of dirt.

  • Rinse the table using a cloth dampened with plain water, then dry the table right away with another soft, lint-free cloth.

Polish with Wax

  • Select paste wax in the same color as your wood table. Neutral or natural-colored waxes look better on light wood, since the wax dries dry to an off-white color. Use dark-colored waxes on dark wood.

  • Place a chunk of wax in the middle of a soft cloth, wrap the cloth ends over the wax, then apply the wax to your table. Work on one area of the wood table at a time. The cloth wrapped over the wax helps you apply the wax evenly. Use paste wax made of beeswax or a vegetable-based paraffin. This polish type does not appear waxy over time.

  • Buff the wax when you see the wax begin to get hazy. Buff along the wood grain of the table using a soft cloth until you get a high, glossy shine. Polish your wood table with wax once or twice each year.

Use Furniture Polish

  • Pour some polish on a soft cloth, then wipe the cloth on the surface of your clean wood table. You can also put a little polish on the table's surface, then wipe the polish using a cloth.

  • Spray a spray furniture polish onto a soft cloth, then polish your wood table with the cloth. This keeps spray marks from appearing on your table.

  • Wipe the polish off of your table using another soft cloth.

Tips & Warnings

  • Thin the paste wax by adding a little mineral spirits to it if you find it challenging to apply the wax to your table. Add mineral spirits to the wax also if you have old wax or if the wax dries out due to a loose lid. Mineral spirits soften the wax.
  • Apply wax to the wood table with 0000 steel wool as an alternative to a soft cloth. The steel wool smoothes the finish while you apply the wax.
  • Use caution with dark furniture polish. If your table contains cracks, dark polishes can seep into the cracks to the wood underneath, turning the cracks dark and making them more noticeable. Dark polishes also contain dark dyes, which may stain clothing.

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