I'm making shelves out of maple plywood with black walnut laminated on
the edges. I'm thinking of using danish oil and then waxing them.
Wouldn't you know it, I was looking through a magazine a couple of weeks
ago that had something in it about using automotive wax finishes on wood
but now I can't find it in the store. I don't remember the name of the
magazine but would like to know if someone has it and would let me know
which woodworking magazine it was or at least tell me which automotive
wax finish would be suitable for my project.
Good. It's a bad idea anyway.
Waxes come in three flavours; finishing waxes, maintenance waxes and
waxes for use over paint.
Finishing waxes are hard. They contain carnauba or candelilla wax to
make them hard, and solvents to make this workable. Applying them
needs considerable buffing and this mechanical buffing is what gives
the wax its shine (wax is full of little flat plates - buffing aligns
them). These are the waxes to use on unfinished wood to build up the
Maintenance waxes are what your maids use to polish the furniture.
They're soft, so don't require much buffing. They have a small solvent
content and emollients as well (oily components that soften the wax
but don't evaporate). Beeswax and turpentine mixes, possibly with a
little ammonia, are a good example. These waxes will restore a sheen
on a polished waxed surface, they'll hide minor wear and scratches in
the surface, but they won't put a shine on that wasn't there before.
Waxes for use over hard paint surfaces are typically car waxes, which
also need to cope with the great outdoors. They should repel water (as
water carries dusty dirt, which otherwise builds up on the surface),
they should resist sunlight and they should provide a good shine.
Polishing is done by "spit and polish", a wet polishing process where
the wash water acts as a co-solvent, rather than by mechanical
buffing. Good ingredients to use for a wax under these conditions are
If you're finishing new wood, go with the hard finish waxes. Avoid
silicones around any other finishing treatment that isn't actively
using them. What they enhance in one technique, they screw up in
I'm in the UK - don't know if they're relevant.
Nearly every manufactured finishing product I buy is from Liberon.
Their "Black Bison" finishing wax is good - I use the "neutral" which
is white, rather than the "clear" which is a bit yellowish. The
coloured waxes (which I rarely use) are far from light stable IMHE, so
will fade enormously. I also use this stuff on steelwork - keep
separate tins and brushes for doing that, as it ends up filthy and
will discolour wood.
The local antique trade swear by "Briwax", which isn't available in
the USA. This is very heavy on the solvents (why you get a different
formulation in the USA) and is easy to apply for a quick one-pass
finish job on Antique Naughty Pine Furniture (tm). Now this is great
if you _want_ to make shoddy recycled pine look like "old" furniture
with little effort, but it's nothing like as hard wearing as a harder
Briwax IS available in the US. I have a can of the "Dark Brown" version
right here in my hand. It is manufactured in the UK using toluene as a
solvent. I was told to let shelac "cure" for two weeks minimum before
applying a coat of this over fumed QS white oak. You can get it in
the US from:
It was something like $20 per can in the "Original" formulation with the
dark brown pigmentation. Robert W. Lang ("Shop drawings for Craftsman
Furniture - 27 Stickley designs for every room in the house") was the
person who recommended it (and warned about the cure time) to me. He's
got a copy of the #700 Harvey Ellis (Stickley) bookcase in the Feb 2005
issue of Popular Woodworking.
I go to pick up the QS white oak for it tomorrow at a sawmill 100 miles
I can find no modern furniture that is as well designed and emotionally
satisfying as that made by the Arts and Crafts movement in the early years
There is lots of furniture wax out there which is designed for this use.
Usually you'll get a Carnuba, beeswax mix with some solvents to make it
speadable. I've just been learning about applying waxes over varios
finishes and I recommend you let you oil cure for at least a couple of
weeks before applying wax otherwise it may never dry properly. Also do
thin coats of wax (3 is a nice number) and let the waxes cure at least a
couple of hours between coats. I've been applying the first coat with
0000 steal wool and it works great for smoothing out any imperfections.
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