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Finishing with Paste Wax

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Forum topic by skeemer posted 05-08-2013 07:07 PM 2211 views 4 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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skeemer

94 posts in 1112 days


05-08-2013 07:07 PM

I am finishing up a small side table that I had completed awhile back and I wanted to finish it off with a paste wax coat. I’ve tried looking for some detailed explanations on how to put the wax on and buff it out, but haven’t had much luck. I’ve tried putting it on twice now with disappointing results both times. The first time I wiped it on, let it haze for about 20-30 minutes, and buffed it out with some cloth, the coat came out uneven and had wipe marks in it. I tried it again last night and used 0000 steel wool to wipe/buff it and the steel wool just clogged up and it turned out even worse.

So, can anyone give me a step-by-step on how to use paste wax? I know it is probably very simple but I am just not getting it. I’m using Minwax paste wax by the way.

Thanks!


24 replies so far

View mds2's profile

mds2

261 posts in 692 days


#1 posted 05-08-2013 07:13 PM

I think you are letting it sit too long. I never go more than 10 mins. Wipe it on in little swirls, let it set ten mins, wipe it off with little swirls. Usually 2 coats.

View Finisherman's profile

Finisherman

210 posts in 597 days


#2 posted 05-08-2013 08:18 PM

I aree with the above post. I would also add the following: If the wax hardens to the point where it’s impossible to buff, you can always wash it off with a rag soaked in mineral spirits or naphtha. Then try again, but begin buffing as soon as the wax becomes hazy. Knowing when to begin buffing takes a little bit of practice. Thinning the wax with a bit of naphtha or mineral spirits might help you in applying a thinner coat. For future reference, I’d seal the wood with a coat or two of dewaxed shellac, if you haven’t done so already on this project, prior to applying your wax. This will prevent the wax from soaking into the wood where it will cause a refinishing headache, should that ever be desired. The shellac will also do a much better job of protecting the wood than wax alone. Finally, never use liquid or aerosol furniture pollish on your waxed surface. The petrolleum distillates in the pollish will dissolve and smear the wax.

Here is the procedure I’d use:
1). Seal the entire surface with one, or better yet, two coats of dewaxed shellac.
2). Use 0000 steel wool to apply your paste wax, while simultaneously smoothing the surface. You can also use a soft cotton cloth in place of the steel wool.
3). When the wax first becomes hazy, begin buffing the suface with a clean, lint-free cotton cloth until you’re pleased with the results.

View Earlextech's profile

Earlextech

1024 posts in 1438 days


#3 posted 05-08-2013 08:26 PM

Finisherman is right, you should follow that procedure. If you’re trying to wax wood without a seal coat on it it will take 10 or more coats just to fill the areas where it soaks in.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "finished"!

View nzmerlin's profile

nzmerlin

28 posts in 621 days


#4 posted 05-08-2013 10:00 PM

Ahhh that’s where I have gone wrong in the past…Dewax Shellac.
Must sea if it’s in NZ.. Cheers Fisherman.

Merlin

-- No! Try Not. Do, or do Not.There is no Try.

View teejk's profile

teejk

1215 posts in 1432 days


#5 posted 05-08-2013 10:11 PM

I use Johnsons. Let it build as long as you want. The best solvent is the next coat of wax. After a few coats, you will have the needed build-up that will only require a quick wipe (several applications require less time in total than your alternatives).

I don’t know how they do it but I find it is also very good at removing any stain residue. And just a personal opinion, I opt for poly on flat surfaces that have any chance of seeing wear

View crank49's profile

crank49

3521 posts in 1719 days


#6 posted 05-08-2013 10:21 PM

Lambswool bonnet on a slow speed buffer is the best for buffing off paste wax.

-- Michael :-{| “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” ― A H

View Planeman40's profile

Planeman40

513 posts in 1509 days


#7 posted 05-08-2013 10:48 PM

Yup, you were letting it dry TOO long.

Like said above, it only takes about 4 or 5 minutes for it to cloud over, then get to rubbing. Paste wax, like paint, dries with time, and not very much time. When it gets dry it gets HARD (which is what you want, isn’t it?). Back in the 1950’s, we used this stuff to wax cars so I have had a lot of experience with it as a teenager with a car. Cleaned and waxed it so much that I eventually waxed through the paint and had to get it re-painted. It gleamed like a diamond all the time though!

Planeman

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View skeemer's profile

skeemer

94 posts in 1112 days


#8 posted 05-09-2013 11:28 PM

Thanks everyone! I will give this another shot this weekend and see how it turns out. Looking forward to finally putting it into service!

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1479 posts in 1109 days


#9 posted 05-10-2013 12:17 AM

Paste wax is not a finish, so what you see is what you get: bupkis. Poly or lacquer or even shellac is a finish.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View Earlextech's profile

Earlextech

1024 posts in 1438 days


#10 posted 05-10-2013 12:30 PM

Clint, I don’t want to argue, but, paste wax is the original finish. Just not a very good one.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "finished"!

View CharlesNeil's profile

CharlesNeil

1170 posts in 2618 days


#11 posted 05-10-2013 07:01 PM

Weeeeelllllll , I unfortunately or fortunately I totally agree with Clint, Wax isnt a finish, just my .02 . I do however have to ask the obvious question, and that is “why” ? With all the good oils and finishes we have , WHY would anyone take all this time and effort to do a weak coating, that will not hold up and has to be renewed constantly, I’m sorry, but folks I just dont get it.

View teejk's profile

teejk

1215 posts in 1432 days


#12 posted 05-10-2013 07:27 PM

I like to use wax where a surface will not see wear (table legs and such). It seals the pores, goes on much faster and there is none of that nasty finishing stuff that comes with poly (I hate the finishing aspect…put on poly, knock much of it down and deal with the residue before repeating after a long dry time).

View Earlextech's profile

Earlextech

1024 posts in 1438 days


#13 posted 05-10-2013 07:33 PM

Hi Charles, I really don’t want to argue with you, however. Furniture made 200 years ago would have been finished with wax as there were no other finishes available to the average person. I totally agree that it is not a good finish and these days should only be used as a protective coating on top of any one of dozens of quality finishes available.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "finished"!

View CharlesNeil's profile

CharlesNeil

1170 posts in 2618 days


#14 posted 05-10-2013 07:47 PM

Earlex , they also used tallow candles for light, that still doesnt make it a good choice today , the old timers used what they had for a finish ,but that doesnt make it a good choice today either ,but they also used alot of oils and shellacs ,and they also died from a fever, that a simple asprin would have prevented.
My question remains, WHY , I can take a good varnish oil and be done and never have to think about it again.

Not here to argue, and not going to , if wax suits you go for it, who am I to argue , but I bet gettin it to spray thru a Earlex will be a trick, ( no offense intended) LOL ,I’m outta here

View skeemer's profile

skeemer

94 posts in 1112 days


#15 posted 05-10-2013 09:16 PM

Just a clarification, this is going overtop of 8 coats of wipe on poly.

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