The finish on my old wooden table has become very dull looking, no matter how much I polish it. How can I get the shine to come back? – Betty

Hi Betty,

After many years of use, layers of wax and polish can build up on a wood tabletop or other wooden furniture. You may be able to clean and rejuvenate the existing finish without having to strip and refinish it. Here’s how to go about it.

To remove built-up wax and polish and help restore the shine:

  1. Add 2 tablespoons of gum turpentine and 4 tablespoons of boiled linseed oil to one gallon of very hot water.
  2. Wearing rubber gloves, dip a soft cotton cloth in the solution, and wring it out as much as possible to keep from saturating the wood with water.
  3. Rub the table with the cloth to help strip away any built-up wax, oil, dirt, and grime while adding luster back to dull spots in the finish.
  4. If the finish still has a dull look, dip some #0000 steel wool in the mixture and lightly rub the surface in the direction of the grain.
  5. Use a clean, dry cloth to buff and dry the table.
  6. As a final step, apply a lemon oil furniture polish to the table with a soft clean cloth.

Good luck with your project,


Further Information

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

Learn More