So talk to me about steel wool and wax...

Used several coats of Waterlox on oak (solid) and birch (ply). I was advised that applying paste wax with steel wool is a nice way to finish the process. So how do I do it?
As a test, I applied some Butcher's Wax to a test piece of the same Oak that had had the same (3 coats, wiped on) application of Waterlox as my actual project. I wiped the wax on with a piece of white Scotch Brite, just to get it on the piece. Then I rubbed it around in an ignorant sort of way for couple of minutes with some 0000 steel wool, using moderate pressure.
I then waited a few minutes, somewhere between 5 and 10 I suppose, and "buffed" the piece with some T-Shirt material.
So how many things did I do wrong? In addition, does wax get old? The Butcher's Wax would be a number of years old.
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Greg Guarino wrote:

If it were me, I would dispense with the white Scotchbrite pad.
I would just use the 0000 steel wool like I would any cloth applicator and apply the wax, with a light, repeat "light" buffing action.
Immediately wipe the wax off, just like you would normally.
All you are doing in using the steel wool is to break the gloss on the surface and removing any nibs or rough spots. The wax restores the luster and as a plus, you get a deeper looking finish.
Deb
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On 1/11/2012 4:25 PM, Dr. Deb wrote:

That was incidental, really. I just used it as an applicator to avoid putting the steel wool into the can of wax directly. I figured I'd be bound to leave some steel wool bits in the wax if I did.

Light. Got it. That would be lighter than the pressure I used.

I'm afraid I don't know what's "normal". Wipe it off with what? Do I buff it afterward?

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RE: Subject
I use bronze wool, it doesn't RUST.
Lew
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wrote:

Scotchbrite isn't nearly as even as steel wool, especially not the Liberon. It will leave deep scratches one place and fine scratches in another spot. Jeff Jewitt's page shows it all. (A good read.) http://www.steelwool.biz/Steel_Wool_Stuff_to_know1.htm

Right, you're deglossing and denibbing, not removing finish. Tread carefully. Hand-rubbed finishes are thin to begin with.

It usually buffs as you wipe it off, so use a terrycloth towel, microfiber (iffen yer rich), or clean t-shirt scrap.
-- We are always the same age inside. -- Gertrude Stein
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On 1/11/2012 2:13 PM, Greg Guarino wrote:

What did you do wrong? Do you like the results?
Basically you use the steel wool to cut the tiny little rough spots you feel when rubbing your hand over the cured surface. Dip/work the steel wool into the wax, apply the wax to the surface with the steel wool. You apply wax and cut the rough spots at the same time.
Or rub the surface with a piece of white paper wrapped around a block of wood and see if that works well enough.
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On 1/11/2012 6:54 PM, Leon wrote:

I suppose my question could imply a problem. There wasn't one; I just find it more efficient to assume I've done something wrong. It eliminates the suspense. :)
The finish seemed pretty good both before and after I applied the wax. I did it to try something that was suggested here.

I had actually done that before I tried the wax, so it was pretty smooth already.
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On 1/11/2012 2:13 PM, Greg Guarino wrote:

I used Johnson paste wax on a recent piece over 5 coats of satin poly dilluted 50% with mineral spirits. I applied with old t-shirt, let dry to a haze and then buffed out with a fresh piece of t-shirt. I was satisfied with the results.
Larry
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wrote:

I'm guessing that the finish on the piece is now cured? Good.
I use a light pressure, 2" circular motion, Liberon 0000 (extremely fine, the only brand of wool I'll ever buy again for finishing) steel wool, Johnson's Paste Wax, and rub it out until I feel the nibs go away, about 3-4 circles/5 seconds on a spot. YOu'll feel it get slick under the steel wool.
Now let it dry for 15 minutes (you'll see it cloud over with a dry surface) and buff off with a clean terrycloth towel.
-- We are always the same age inside. -- Gertrude Stein
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On 1/11/2012 11:15 PM, Larry Jaques wrote:

As per advice here, it's been more than 30 days, probably 45 days for the test scrap. Other than time, how could I determine if it has cured?

I've got 0000, but not Liberon. Problem?
steel

I used, as I mentioned, an old can (5 years?) of Butcher's Wax Bowling Alley Paste. It seemed to be in good condition. Do I need to buy something else?
and rub it out until I feel the nibs go

I remember the "clouding over" bit from my teen years. My Dad had me wax his (over-large) office desk. If memory serves, I either waited too long or put on too much wax. It was definitely a "Karate Kid" ordeal; the "wax off" took one hell of a lot of work.
In any case, I didn't wait quite that long, and I didn't see the "haze". I may try the test again to see if I want to employ that method on my actual project pieces. The test piece felt awfully nice *before* the wax, courtesy of advice from the Rec and a brown Trader Joe's bag.
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wrote:

An uncured finish of any sort will gum-up sandpaper.

Not much, but it's like the difference between 220 and 320 grit paper. Liberon 0000 is much finer than standard 0000. I'd call it 00000 if it were my decision. The question is: Do you like the resultant matte finish it leaves? One other tip: If you don't like the wax surface, you can remove it with mineral spirits, naphtha, or store-boughten wax remover.

That should work fine. I have some 30+ y/o cans of Johnson's and it still works for me. I keep a wad of wool in one can for furniture and a wad of t-shirt material in another for my mailbox door. One neighbor caught me waxing my door and asked why I did it. We talked for a few minutes and I buffed it off. Then he tried his mailbox door and mine, and had me do his door for him. Try yours today! <g>

If that happens, put more wax on and don't wait so long. But don't fight it.

That'll denib it nicely, too. If you want a shiny waxed surface, don't use steel wool, use a piece of old t-shirt. The steel wool is for deglossing it to a matte finish.
-- Make awkward sexual advances, not war.
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Greg Guarino wrote:

Your nose. If you can smell it, it hasn't. But 30 days is plenty. ______________

_________________
Personally, I don't apply the wax with the steel wool. I use steel wool until the surface has a uniform reflectivity, brush off all the steel pieces then pass a strong magnet over it to get the rest.
I apply the wax with a cloth. I apply it as evenl and thinly as I can. When it is dry, I polish it with an old terry cloth towel; note that you are NOT removing the wax, you are polishing it. Any missed spots (in the application) will be obvious (dull) and if there are any the whole thing gets another coat.
--

dadiOH
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Not sure what butchers wax is. I use Briwax or Johnsons paste wax. I have given up on steel wool because I can never get the wool dust out of the crevices in my projects. I use scotch pads as I was advised by a mentor, a well regarded antique repair guy.
Rub it in/on using circular motions and getting it thinned out as much as possible. Too much wax is a bad thing. Add some naptha to your scrub pad if the wax is too dry. Let it dry longer than you think. The more it dries the harder it is to rub out but the better the finish. I'd say a 1/2 hour unless it is the height of a hot summer. If it is too thick and dry all the way it is murder to buff.
Buff it out with a worn terry cloth if you can, or a tee shirt. It should then look like this
http://www.sonomaproducts.com/images/stories/curly/3.jpg
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On 1/11/2012 11:22 PM, SonomaProducts.com wrote:

I think it used to be a well known brand. "Butcher's Wax Bowling Alley Paste". I'm wondering if I should buy something else, or if that's OK.
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wrote:

It appears Butcher's is primarily carnauba wax in mineral spirits and turpentine. It is considered a good quality wax, I believe.
Many waxes are some combination of carnauba and beeswax and paraffin. Carnauba is hard and long wearing and harder to buff. Beeswax is softer and easier to buff.
When I am rubbing out a finish I will use Johnson's floor wax, which is pretty soft and easy to buff. What you want with the wax to do is provide lubrication as you rub the steel wool over the wood.
But I will put a final wax with some carnauba+beeswax in turpentine that I mixed up myself. It goes on harder and is harder to buff than Johnson's, but not as hard as pure carnauba.
FYI, as wax is buffed out, you end up with a layer that is just a few molecules thick.
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On 1/11/2012 11:22 PM, SonomaProducts.com wrote:

It should? If I can get that kind of craftsmanship out of a can of wax and some steel wool, count me in. :)
Looks beautiful. Thanks for the advice.
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