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
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.
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.
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.)
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
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.
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
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.
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
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?
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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