Here it is straight up -- we use paste wax on all of our boxes, primitives and funky junk that are made out of wood. That's how we give "wooden" funky junk that subtle, satin finish without using lacquer or polyurethane.
That's the "what." Here's the how:
1. Clean the box, primitive or funky junk element with a damp cloth or stiff brush to remove any detritus from the barn you found it in.
If a wooden box or piece of funky junk made out of wood is extremely dry from neglect give it a little love with some good furniture oil before you make your way to Step 2. Anything by Howard's will make it feel loved.
2. With a sponge, 0000 steel wool or damp cloth apply wax . . . this is the "wax on" part.
3. With a super soft and preferably lint free towel buff until you see that subtle satin finish emerge . . . this is the "wax off" part.
It isn't only wooden boxes that we use paste wax on. All kinds of funky junk warrant a good waxing . . . like a 1950s chrome and Formica kitchen set. Wax the Formica and watch the color pop. Wax a funky junk cabinet with peeling paint or a table with bare wood showing, it will make the wood pop and the paint look all happy with a satin glow.
We have tried Johnson Paste Wax, Briwax and Howard Citrus Shield and have no discernable preference. One obvious advantage to using the latter two waxes are they are available with tinting to match the color of the wooden piece you are waxing.
Do you have any tips or Trade Secrets to share?