Wax has been used by wood craftsmen around the world for centuries. Wax comes from three sources: animals, plants and minerals. Up through to the 18th century, there was only one type of wax known as beeswax which comes from a bee. This is a simple recipe that includes grated beeswax dissolved in turpentine. The recipe is simple, but proper preparation requires some knowledge and skill. If you don’t believe me, watch Don Williams do it. You can find the video on the Wood and Shop website. The wax we know is carnauba. A vegetable wax obtained from Brazilian palm leaves. Although carnauba provides high lustre and excellent durability, it is difficult to polish by hand, so commercially carnauba is mixed with beeswax. The third type is my favourite mineral wax. This is a microcrystalline derived from crude oil. These synthetic waxes are non-acidic and will not destroy antique finishes and nor corrode metals. That’s why Smithsonian uses Renaissance wax for furniture. Me too. It gives a very pleasing shine and works astoundingly on chalked painted furniture. Apply this wax to all coatings and all tools to prevent corrosion. Wax alone does not provide much protection as a polish, but it has many advantages. Wax fills small scratches left by fine abrasives and improves the gloss of the finish. Wax is easy to keep clean and is abrasion resistant and waterproof to a certain degree. You can rejuvenate a dull or aging finish, you can apply it raw on a picture frame or over a finish.  As with all tools, you need to learn how to use it properly to achieve its full potential.

The trick is to apply it thinly and buff it off with a soft rag. Sometimes people will apply several coats of wax. The wax melts into itself, so applying new wax will dissolve the old wax and it will not form a film.  Save yourselves the elbow grease and apply only one thin coat and wait for that haze. To give it an extra shine, use a stiff shoe brush, you’ll be surprised on how much shinier it will become. Even when applying wax on turned objects on a lathe, you’d think the high rpm of friction polishing on a lathe is the shiniest you’ll get. Well, guess again. Hit it with a shoe brush and you’ll make it even shinier.

Renaissance wax isn’t cheap. They charge a lot, and for size you get very little, but it works wonders. If I use it only for furniture, it will last a long time for me, but like I said I also use it on my tools and for that reason I wish they made the tub a lot bigger.

Here is a website with waxes such a carnauba maybe you will want to make your own wax

Goods & Chattels (goodsandchattels.com)

2 thoughts on “Wax

    1. That’s a great question and a difficult one to answer. I have once used pure beeswax and didn’t like it. Since then I have tried Minwax paste wax, Ubeaut traditional wax and Renaissance paste wax. The last two are white in colour and I have used the last two on walnut and buffed it with and without a shoe brush. I did not experience any discolouration now having said that it is obvious for some the addition of white particular matter being left in the wood is a common problem which is why some businesses make a dark wax. Your best bet would be to experiment with a sample piece first.


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