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Case study

Polishing the Waterloo Table

Waterloo table being constructed
Stripping back the Waterloo table

Stripping the table back to the bare wood ©

This 50 metre long mahogany table is used for State Banquets in St Georges Hall, and larger dining at Windsor Castle.

The deterioration of decades of polishing and burnishing caused the polish to crack over time. As a result, the The Royal Household's Master's department and the Royal Collection Trust agreed that that the table should be repolished. This was the first time the table was stripped and polished in 50 years.

In July 2018, the Conservation team began carefully stripping the table back to the bare wood. Decades of old shellac polish was removed to reveal high quality Cuban magohany, concealed by layers and layers of French polishing. This took three months to complete and most of this work took place outside, due to the intense odour from the solvents.

conservator polishing the table


As mahogany naturally fades over time, the bare magohany appeared quite pale when stripped. As a result the team had to skilfully match each table bed and all of the leaves with a concotion of water stains to attain an even colour across. This was to ensure that the table's mahogany colour was consistent and didn't vary across the length of the table when the first layers of polish were introduced.

Once completely polished, the new polish had to harden for three months before the table was ready to be used. In additon and to compliment the work, a new storage area for the leaves was created. This now presents easy access for the Castle Attendants and enables improved care of the table for the next 30 to 40 years.

The nine month French polishing process was completed just in time for the table’s debut at the Garter Day luncheon in the Waterloo Chamber. The result is a masterpiece of traditional craftsmanship. 

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