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If there is any chance something wet might be put on the table such as a sweaty glass, I don't think you would be happy with a wax finish. It will leave a water ring very quick. If it is a wax finish you want I would just use Johnsons paste wax. Personally under the conditions you have I believe I would finish the table with a water based polyurethane. The finish is low odor and would give better protection than wax.
 

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Wow, thank you all for your thoughtful replies. Like most things worthwhile, it seems like this is as much art as science. I only wish I had this depth of knowledge on something besides handling toddler temper tantrums. :)

If I try something like poly or shellac, will it be shiny? I like the way the wood looks and feels now.

Alternatively, I was wondering if I could just try the wax. If it doesn't work out, could I hire a pro later to sand it down and seal it using poly or shellac? (I probably wouldn't dare poly or shellac it myself. Seems a lot more irreversible than wax, and harder to do correctly.)

Also, turp sounds "chemically." Could I do the wax+carnuba+turp thing every year or so, then do something more natural like the wax+carnuba+oil paste for touch-ups every few weeks or whenever it loses its water-beading abilities?


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By the way, I am very much interested in reading both what kinds of wax you like and alternatives like poly. I didn't ask about the latter because the manufacturer recommended wax. It didn't occur to me that there could be something better! So glad you all volunteered your thoughts. And Al, I also appreciate you keeping things on point, too. :) If I were smarter, I would have been more specific in my post.
If you put wax directly on the wood it will make it difficult to put a poly finish on it but not impossible. There was a antique dealer next door to me that put bri-wax on everything they sold. Occasionally a customer would buy a piece and bring it to me to have a more conventional finish put on it. It just takes a lot of elbow grease with a wax and grease remover frequently changing rags. Eventually enough of the wax is cleaned off a finish will bond. I usually had one of my people cleaning a piece like that for about two hours.

As far as putting a poly or shellac on as an alternative the poly is readily available in sheens to dead flat. Shellac on the other hand it only glossy. There is an additive you can get called shellac flat that will dull the gloss to what ever sheen you desire.

Another alternative to the wax would be an oil finish such as Watco oil finish. It would give a more natural look and would be easier to put poly or shellac on at a later date if you wish.

Turps is just short for turpentine. All you would be doing with that is thinning the wax so it would penetrate more. I don't think you can expect water beading qualities out of carnuba wax. It's not like wax on a car. The car finish is already waterproof and the wax makes the water bead. On wood the water will penetrate through the wax into the wood and eventually mix with the wax causing a white spot.
 

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If it has any wax on it you should be able to feel it. The color will also be darker than if it was raw wood. The first review in the link said it stained easily so if it has wax on it, it would be difficult at best to stain. From what I can see I believe it is unfinished.
 
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