Things they didn't tell you, or that came as a surprise (by @Lear )

N.B. This list has been constantly added to. Probably best not to quote it:

  • All shades of red/burgundy wax tend to bleed like hell and rub off on trousers.

  • Saphir MdO cream polish (soft stuff) left to dry for too long is difficult to polish out. Especially if it's a lighter colour and stuck in the darker welt area.

  • When you do apply Saphir MdO cream, don't head for the seams after you first load the cloth. I always start on a clear expanse first, then work the excess out towards any seams. Failure to do this can see seams and stitching caked in a solidified gunk. Trying to remove it can bugger up the mirror.This applies to the wax as well

  • Saphir wax doesn't have an overpowering smell. Washes off skin fairly easily.

  • Saphir Renovateur is best applied with your bare fingers (maybe a tiny brush to get into the welt). The warmth of the fingers will help it penetrate and spread. Any other method will waste the precious stuff to the cloth. Washes off skin VERY easily.

  • Thicker felt cloth might be great for overall rubbing & polishing, but the thinner, cheaper stuff is best for a mirror shine. Might have something to do with the thirstier wicking properties of spongier felt. Even a quick dab seems to suck up and absorb much more than the required water drop.

  • If you're really getting nowhere with the mirror shine... go to bed. Leaving the wax to harden overnight can - coupled with bright morning sunlight - make all the difference. The cooler the room, the longer left, the harder the set.

  • Hitting a mirror shined shoe with hard bristles can pit the surface. This is recoverable damage, but easily avoided by keeping the brush away from heels and toecap.

  • I've never had a 'flaking' shoe/boot. All multi (micro thin) coats are kept to the heels/toecaps. Flexible parts are kept conditioned and given coats only as necessary.

  • When left with a wax dotted piece of felt, instead of chucking it out, use this immediately as a pre-charged rubbing cloth for flexible parts. It'll impart the slightest of wax coats to the leather, until you decide to do your proper coat.

  • Most people seem to apply too much wax, using coats that are too thick.

  • Whenever you come in: shoes off, trees in, wipe entire shoe with moist (not wet) cloth. I use the strip of spent felt from above. No matter how clean the shoe appears, you'll always remove a thin layer of dust and dirt. Get into the welt etc. Please be extra gentle over the mirrored parts. You don't want to dull them. Barely touch with the moist felt. I usually add a single three minute wax swirl in the morning. This always brings it back to a perfect mirrored state. Now put aside and leave overnight to dry.

  • A mirror shine is a delicate thing. The slightest of knocks will leave a scuff. surface rubs are easily rectified. Deep gouges into the wax can be a pain to get rid of.

  • If your mirror polished shoes get rained on, just learn to live with it for the rest of that day. Any attempt to dry, polish or shine a wet shoe will immediately dull the mirrored finish. If on the other hand they get dusty during a dry, hot day, then a gentle dust over with a felt cloth can help.

  • What works for one person may not work for you. I've seen people use old rough t-shirts to produce a fantastic mirror. They just never work for me. I've also seen some use cotton wool balls and iced water. Can't get this to work either.

  • Don't go filling a container with inches of water. Barely cover the bottom with a millimetre or two. That way your tightly wrapped finger can safely stab the bottom of the vessel without getting the felt saturated. Dabbing the polish first creates a barrier to having a soaked felt. It also seems easier to regulate the size and number of water droplets. However, I'm sure some do it the other way around with amazing results. Too much water is one of the major causes of mirror shine failure.

  • Fluffy fabric (felt etc) rubbed on Renovateur can drag, leaving bits of lint on the shoe. I'll often use a white handkerchief to do this (20p each from the Pound Shop). Then once I have a smoother friction free surface I'll swap for the felt.

  • Filling my wax tin lid with water causes it to rust.

  • If you simply have to stock up on duplicate tins of Saphir wax, put these reserves into sealed ziploc bags to keep them from drying out.

  • After much effort, when you have your perfect mirror shine, you can touch up with one or two swirls whenever you feel like it. You won't have to worry about building up the layers anymore. It'll be fine tuning from now on. Be delicate. Go for longer swirling sessions using warm breath and water with less wax. Keep turning the shoe into the natural light if possible. As I mentioned above: good lighting can save you from destroying a perfectly good mirror shine. Don't be fooled by shadows and a poorly lit room.

  • If you have a brand new pair of shoes, don't try to mirror shine them straight from the box. You need creases to set into position first. I'd treat them to lots of conditioning and wearing during the first week. Polish them as you would for a regular shine. After a week maybe do a few swirling coats before wearing them again the next day. Then check for flex points, cracking etc. Use your eyes and common sense.

  • There comes a point where additional coats won't increase the shine. Some wait until they can read the reflected time from a wristwatch. I like to wait until I can count (and classify according to colour) reflected nasal hairs

  • Most importantly: if someone steps onto your mirror polished shoe, murder is not an option. You must accept it as 'The Way of the Mirror'.

This primer was first posted in our Official Shoe Care Thread.
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