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How does wax work?

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Forum topic by KnickKnack posted 07-25-2011 07:11 PM 1054 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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KnickKnack

1062 posts in 3032 days


07-25-2011 07:11 PM

Topic tags/keywords: wax

I’ve recently been waxing a couple of my slightly older projects, and it suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t know what I was doing.
I mean, I know what I was doing, but I didn’t know what the wax was doing.
With other finishes I know what happens – with oil, with varnish, even shellac – I know the underlying chemical processes involved (at a very high level – “cure”, for example) and the result.
But what about wax? I apply and rub off. Presumably there’s some left on or that would be a great scam. Does it react with what’s there already and somehow bind to it? Or does it form its own kind of “film”? Or is it trying to “soak in”?
What’s it doing?

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."


3 replies so far

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AaronK

1441 posts in 2930 days


#1 posted 07-25-2011 07:23 PM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physisorption

right – waxes are non-reacting. ie, they dont cure. There IS some left on the surface when you rub the excess off, but it’s very thin. I would suspect that microscopic roughness in the wood or finished wood surface aids in retaining the wax film. Either way, it’s a very thin layer on there – which is why wax is easily removed and needs to be continually reapplied.

waxes are nearly identical to oils, except they’re a bit larger molecules, so they tend to be solids at room temperature. You can think of them, therefore, as behaving like oils. It might “soak in” a little bit while there is still some solvent in it, or if the temperature is high enough. But generally it’ll just sit on top just like a thin oil slick – except solid.

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KnickKnack

1062 posts in 3032 days


#2 posted 07-25-2011 07:32 PM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physisorption

Having read all that (yes, really), I have a markedly increased respect for wax.

I’ve also become a big fan of Jellium , yes Jellium :-)

I wonder now, in light of that, if mixing oil and wax would work, and to what effect?

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."

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AaronK

1441 posts in 2930 days


#3 posted 07-25-2011 08:11 PM

i’m not sure – when i said oil, I meant something like mineral oil. something like boiled linseed oil would probably be quite different. that said, oil and wax finishes are used here and there… but I’ve never tried one myself.

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