Use an oil polish (like lemon oil or orange oil) to polish and dust your furniture. Avoid waxes, aerosol sprays, and cleaners because, over time, they can present problems. Waxes and aerosol sprays can cause build-up on your finish and it will eventually need to be removed. Most cleaners contain solvents which will erode the finish.
Remember, you want to polish the finish, not the wood.
Some furniture purists recommend wiping your furniture with mineral spirits (basically paint thinner) and letting it dry overnight, then applying a thin layer of paste wax or BriWax. The reason we do not recommend this process because most people overuse the wax and it can cause more harm than good.
The difference between hardwood and softwood
A few years back I read an article in the local newspaper about new trends in wood flooring. The Home & The Garden editor wrote something like hardwood is just that it’s hard! I quickly sent off an email, explaining that while I enjoyed her article, she was inaccurate when she said hardwoods are hard, when in fact it has nothing to do with the hardness of the wood, but with the genus of the tree. She thanked me, but never got around to correcting the error in the newspaper, leaving thousands of readers with the wrong information.
You see, the terms hardwood and softwood have nothing at all to do with whether the actual wood is hard or soft. It has to do with the leaves. Simply put, a hardwood is deciduous and a softwood is evergreen. A deciduous tree loses its leaves in the winter and an evergreen tree stays green year round. Examples of softwood trees are pine, fir, redwood, and cedar. Often, a softwood tree will have needles instead of leaves.
Examples of hardwood trees are maple, cherry, mahogany, and oak. They lose their leaves in the winter and are dormant until spring. Remember those airplanes made of balsa wood we played with when we were kids? The wood from a balsa tree is very soft and light in weight, but it is a hardwood because it is deciduous, losing its leaves in the winter. Now, would you make a floor out of balsa wood?