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In response to our post on using leftover candles to finish woodturnings, Toolmonger Frank Townend asked whether the candles have to be beeswax.  The answer is essentially “No,” but let’s take a look at some more detail.  I went looking for descriptions of the different types of wax finishes and found this on WoodTurningVideosPlus.com: “Beeswax produces a nice, subtle satin luster,” and “Carnauba produces a very high gloss.”  They also mention microcrystalline wax as another option.

On multiple sites, I found people using the carnauba wax on pens and pipes that they’ve turned, but I had trouble finding good sources of carnauba wax — I’ve linked to what I found. If anyone knows of good sources for woodturning wax or other finishes, let us know in comments.

Carnauba Wax 1/2-lb for $20 [Woodcraft]
Carnauba Wax 2-oz for $8 [Cup O’ Joe’s]
Woodturning Waxes [Wood Turning Videos Plus]


8 Responses to Carnauba Lathe Wax

  1. Jason says:

    Without even looking, I’m sure Craft Supply has it.


  2. Frank Hicinbothem says:

    Rockler and Lee Valley both carry several different kinds. I’m partial to a product called “Orange Wax” which is a mixture of carnauba, beeswax, and citrus oil. I use it as a wood finish at the lathe and as a finish wax over varnish on most projects.

  3. tmib_Seattle says:

    Dunno how well it would work on wood, but for a coating on the stuff I blacksmith, I use the following:

    1 cup Johnson’s Floor Paste Wax
    1 cup “beeswax”
    1 cup turpentine
    1 cup boiled linseed oil.

    Melt the wax down and then mix in the turpentine and oil. Let it cool to a paste. I apply it to my blacksmithed work while the metal is still warm. The recipe is one I got online and originally called for 2 tablespoons of “Japan Drier” but I couldn’t find the stuff and found it to be unneeded.

    Now the main reason I bring this up, is that while “beeswax” is expensive at craft stores, a lower grade of the stuff (with some additives to make it sticky) can be found in the form of wax toilet rings; the things you use to make a seal around the base of a toilet when mounting it. They run about $2 for a large ring, and work perfectly well as a wax source for the paste mix above. Again, it seems to me that the same stuff would work well as a paste wax for wood, but that’s just theory at this point for me.


  4. tmib_Seattle says:

    Oh also, when I’ve put wax coatings on briar tobacco pipes, I used “Mothers Gold” carnuba wax. It comes in a can at the auto parts store and is used for waxing cars. It’s a hard cake that you rub a rag on to get the wax off before applying it to the wood.


  5. Frank Townend says:

    Thanks J.R. et. al. The nicest thing about bowl finishing is it can be down while the bowl is turning. Hold the block of wax against a slow-turning bowl and then buff. The heat of friction between the bowl and wax makes for a nice finish. I was in my local Woodcraft last weekend and the (always) helpful sales associate had me try to scratch the blocks of Beeswax and Carnauba waxes. I could make a nice dent in the Beeswax, but the Carnauba was like a rock. The Carnauba requires more work, but it gives a more durable finish.

  6. J.R. Bluett says:

    Frank, I’m glad to even help a little. It looks like I got smoked on finding the bars of the carnauba wax though. Thanks everyone for the assist!

  7. Frank Townend says:

    I just want to say it.

    Toolmonger is a great site. Thanks to all who make it a joy to visit!

  8. Aggie says:

    The best finish I’ve used on pens that I’ve turned is Myland’s Friction Polish. You can find it at Woodcraft, it comes as a liquid, you apply it to a cotton cloth and hold it too the workpiece. Makes cocobolo look great. (of course cocobolo looks great pretty much all the time!)

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