Wax polish

A while ago, I bought some micro-crystalline wax from Chestnut. It works well, and gives a very nice smooth finish, but it doesn’t go hard, and surfaces are easily scratched, and then it can be a bit of a mission getting it back to a nice finish.

So I started looking around for other waxes. Eventually I ended up buying a few ingredients and made my own wax finish. Here’s the recipe and the instructions:

Use a glass container (old jam jars are ideal, so keep them with the lids), place into a pan and fill the pan with about 1.5-2 inches of water. The jar (still empty) should just about stand on bottom of the pan. Heat up the water to boiling.

I used ounces for my weighing, but as long as the ratios are kept, any quantities will do. From a block of pure beeswax I cut 3 oz. of flakes and filled them into the jar. Flakes melt a little faster. Once this is liquefied completely, slowly add 1 oz of flakes of carnauba wax. Do this little by little, and stir until again completely liquefied. By now you will probably need to add some more water. A typical jam jar (454g size) will by now be 3 quarters full. Now get a second jar (unless you started with smaller quantities) and fill half of the liquid wax mixture into it, and put it aside. Switch the heat off, but keep the jar in the hot water.

The final ingredient is pure gum turpentine. Yes, the stuff that’s made from resin. Do NOT use any of the replacement products, they won’t work. Plus they smell awful compared to the real thing. Measure 3 ounces of that and stir slowly into the wax mixture. Then lift the jar out of the water and let it cool. As the wax sets, it changes colour from the orange liquid into a light yellow paste which looks a bit like honey.

Now put the other jar into the hot water, heat up the mixture until completely liquid, and measure and add 3 ounces of turpentine to that, stir, and let it cool. You now have two jars full of really nice wax finish.

You can play around with the quantities, to achieve slightly different results:

  • More carnauba wax will make the resulting polish harder, and you can achieve a glossier finish. In order to keep the polish in the jar at a usable level of hardness, you will have to also add more turpentine, probably about double to triple the amount of additional carnauba wax.
  • More turpentine will make the mixture more pliable, i.e. it will be easier to get it out of the jar. However, this will then also result in a finish that needs more time before you can buff it. Essentially what happens when you put the wax polish on a piece of wood, is that the turpentine will vaporize, and leave behind the wax components. More turpentine = more time for vaporization.
  • You can also add colour at this stage. Liming wax is created in this manner, but all sorts of colours are possible. Especially well work the spirit based stains from Chestnut.




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