Put a couple of drops of mineral alcohol, naphtha or turpentine on the surface you want to test. Let it sit for a few seconds and then rub it on the area. Wax can usually be identified by feeling the surface. For lack of a better term, the surface will feel waxy.
With the side of a coin, you can lightly scrape off an inconspicuous area and you'll see a buildup of wax on the side of the coin. Add a few drops of mineral alcohol to the surface and cover it with a shot glass. If wax is present, it will become cloudy and should be soft enough to be cleaned with a cloth. A more aggressive test would be to use a few drops of ammonia under a shot glass.
This will cause the wax to turn yellow and rise; HOWEVER, ammonia will also damage many other finishes. This should only be done in an inconspicuous area or if you intend to remove all the finishing layers. At Wood Finishes Part 1, I'm pleased to introduce you to the first of a series on wood finishes with a special guest, Julie Henderson, from Chalk n Trees. This is the Facebook Live demo that you can check out while reading the notes below.
Testing finishes: DOWNLOAD this reference sheet With more than 10 years of experience transforming antique furniture into must-have pieces for the home, Sharon has the skills, knowledge and passion to help you on your furniture restoration journey. To find out what finish you are facing, try to dissolve it. You will know the finish with which the solvent removes it. To properly repaint the wood, the old finish must be removed and, for this, it is absolutely essential to know what type of finish is currently found on the wood.
To find out what type of finishing treatment your furniture has, you can try a discrete area of the wood, such as the upper inner part of a leg. Not only do finishes protect wood from spills, stains, surface abrasion and moisture changes, but they can also enhance the beauty of the wood.