The thing is, as with the majority of companies, they all claim to make the best product and who am I to tell you any different?
I was apprenticed in 1987 at the age of 16 at Staverton Joinery in Totnes, South Devon. Staverton Joinery was owned by Dartington Trust at the time and employed up to 100 full time craftsmen, the majority of which had also been apprenticed by the Trust.
Staverton Joinery attained a huge amount of respect within its field and was known throughout the country for decades as being one of the best joineries in the country. Producing furniture for the wealthiest of clients worldwide.
I was one of the last to be apprenticed under the Trust’s guidance ( which is a story in its own right ) and I am grateful to have been taught by some the best craftsmen in the country.
In February 1994 I opened the doors to my restoration business and with the help of ‘The Prince’s Trust’ and I started on my own. Today we are now the largest furniture restoration company in the South West of the UK.
Over the decades we have probably used all of the wax furniture polishes available on the market and we feel that this very rewarding process has been largely overlooked and undersold on its importance in its preservation and protection of furniture.
At this point I think it’s necessary to understand what a good beeswax polish should do:
These are the two reasons we use furniture polish:
- To Enhance the Natural Beauty of the Wood
- To act as a Sacrificial Protective Layer
Yes, it can also be nourishing to sun damaged, worn and dull finishes but maybe not in the way that many believe it to be. I have heard so many times that a good beeswax polish should nourish the wood itself but this really shouldn’t be the case when dealing with the majority of antiques.
If the original finish has broken down so much that the surface is exposed then it needs the services of a professional restorer. Dull, tired and scratched finishes can be revived to very good effect with the application of a good wax polish this is also where using a coloured wax polish will help rejuvenate the surface polish.
I would say that we use our Antique Gold wax polish 90% of the time in the workshop. However the above statement of ‘nourishing wood’ is true when dealing with 17th Century and earlier oak, elm and walnut furniture. A good quality beeswax polish will revive much of this period furniture.
"When properly applied a single application of the best beeswax furniture polish will last for years and years"
Less is more…
In the majority of situations there is no need to apply beeswax polish more than once. As long as it is applied correctly (not over applied) there should be just the right amount of high quality ingredients in the polish to achieve a good shine and generate a protective layer in one application which should last for years and years. There are a few circumstances when it may be necessary to apply a good beeswax polish a number of times. An example situation might be when reviving the colour on a faded or dry 17th century oak coffer.
Furniture Polish and Sun Damage
In the majority of households heavy furniture is rarely moved to different positions. This is where some of the worst damage can occur to when it is exposed to prolonged sunlight and the UV damage it brings with it.
In many cases it’s the only place you can put it and you can't live you life with the curtains drawn can you? So to help prevent the fading and the crazing effect of sun radiation wax polish may need to be applied on a more regular basis.
The image above is an example of how one application of Gilboy's Gold revives the original finish and at the same time helps to reverse the effects of sun damage.
Uneven fading can also be made better by using a coloured or tinted beeswax polish. This type of first aid wax polishing will help to slow down harsh effects of ultraviolet damage. It is by no means a cure but it will go in some way to protect the finished surface. I am not saying that it has anti UV properties but it will act more like a face cream to help stem the drying out process.
It is in these situations where it may be necessary to wax polish more often, it may also be worth applying (a few days later) a clear beeswax polish over the top to add extra protection without adding additional colour.
Other situations where it may be necessary to apply wax polish more often is in high traffic areas such as the arms on chairs and the legs on dining tables.
The Best Furniture Polish for Antiques and Vintage Furniture
At the time of writing this we are entering our second year of our antique restoration programme for Buckfast Abbey in South Devon. It is these very kindly beekeeping monks whom provide us with their own golden filtered pure beeswax to make Gilboy’s Gold.
“A good beeswax furniture polish should have just the right rich quality of ingredients to provide a layer of protection to the furniture and further enhances the long term patination and protection”
We struggled for years to find just the right polish and that is why we decided to make our own. The difference being if we made it ourselves we were not going to cut corners on the cost of the ingredients.
This is an area of the ‘antiques world’ I still don’t quite understand. Why would a person spend a considerable sum of money to buy or restore an antique (sometimes in the many thousands of pounds) to then later on apply a low-cost, low quality wax polish?
If ever the old adage of “you pay for what you get” is true, then it certainly is with cheap polish. Please don't think I’m being condescending, but let's say you buy a tin of polish for £10.00; the retailer is making £3.00, the wholesaler makes £3.00, the manufacturer has labelling costs and the cost of the tin, not forgetting transportation - another few pounds. How much is left to pay for the actual contents which is going to be applied to your very treasured piece of furniture? The answer is not a lot.
Our intention from the very beginning was to create a polish that complimented our services and to enhance the historical value of the furniture.
It was our focus to prolong the preservation and conservation of antiques and not “how much can we make out of this?”
Our customers for years have been asking us “What is the best way to care for our
furniture?” and now we can honestly say it is our polish. We have developed it in our own restoration workshop and used it on our own antiques. It took years to perfect it but now we think we have got it right. Gilboys Gold is made by us in South Devon and is entirely handmade by our small team of furniture restorers. It is made without compromise.