Q: Someone who didn't know how to apply wax applied so much paste wax to my dining room table that an uneven layer was built up. No matter how much I buff it the surface looks as though it is scratched. What is the best way to remove all the old wax so I can start over?

A: If you really want to get all the old wax off, the quickest and easiest way is to use paint thinner. However, this solvent is highly inflammable, so either work outdoors or in a well-ventilated room with no smoking or open flames. Wipe the thinner on with a cloth or sponge saturated in the liquid, then immediately scrub it off with clean cloths. Dispose of all these cloths outdoors, putting them in a metal can. If the wax buildup is very heavy, it may be necessary to rub lightly with very fine steel wool dipped into the thinner.

Q: We have two brick fireplaces in our house that are back to back -- one in the living room and one in the den. Each fireplace has its own flue, but they have the common wall of firebrick between them. I would like to know if it is feasible to knock out the common firebrick wall between them so that when we build a wood fire we would have a fire in both rooms at the same time.

A: I don't think that's a very good idea. First, it is possible that the brick wall separating the two fireplaces is supporting part of the load of the chimney structure or the wall between the two rooms. Second, even if it is not a structural problem, each fireplace is designed to burn efficiently as built, with its own flue and its own back wall to contain the heat and reflect it into the room. If the wall between them is removed, you will have two flues in one fireplace, and this could create problems with down drafts. You might also find that smoke would blow into one or both rooms because of the greatly increased draft that would result (air coming in from both sides instead of from only one side.).