I have some raised panel wainscoting which is quite dull. What would be the best way to give them a little brightening?—Jim Hamilton

Bruce Hamilton replies: Wax is the quickest way to improve the appearance of any surface. Shoe polish is a good wax to use. Apply just like you would on shoes. Remove the excess with a traditional shoe brush and follow up with a soft cloth to give the surface its final sheen.

Richard Oedel replies: It really depends on the brightness of the underlying finish, but in general you can try a good quality paste wax—and you don’t have to do the entire panel, just the flat surface. In fact, the contrast between a duller molded shape and the brighter flat surface will enhance the apparent brightness. What paste wax? You can try a standard butchers wax (which contains carnauba wax) and do one flat surface of the panel at a time. Or you can go directly to an automotive wax, which is designed for car finishes, but which I find is more highly developed than products made for wooden furniture.

Finishing