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Most of the “heavy machinery” in my shop has a smooth uncoated metal surface on it somewhere. From the ShopSmith tools to the 13″ Delta planer sitting in the corner, there are plenty of opportunities for rust to happen. Applying a coat of paste wax twice a year just doesn’t hit the top of my list very often. OK, so never.

If you look at the manual for most of these woodworking machines, they require a thin coat of well-applied paste wax on the active surfaces to keep them smooth, slippery, and above all, free from rust. It’s a pain in the rear, but wax will keep your tool surfaces in service for decades if you manage to keep the rust off them.

It’s funny — as a kid I used to watch my dad fussing over metal surfaces and wonder why he bought such cheap tools that they didn’t finish painting them. I even helped him out once by hitting the jigsaw baseplate with a can of red Krylon and wondered why the heck I had to spend the rest of the evening in my room. I didn’t know till adulthood that the smooth parts were actually the expensive bits. Live and learn. Paste wax is your friend.

Johnson Paste Wax [Google Shopping]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]


13 Responses to Wax On. Wax On Again

  1. Dean in Des Moines says:

    This is exactly the cheap-o wax I use on my jointer and table saw. I figure Boeshield might be better, but if this is meant to walk on it should hold while I slide some wood across it. The only frustration I have with it is it’s drying time. Overnight is best during the summer. Two days in the winter for my unheated garage shop.

    • PutnamEco says:

      Dean in Des Moines says:
      The only frustration I have with it is it’s drying time.

      Briwax has a faster drying solvent base (toluene) then JPW if the waiting really bothers you that much.

  2. John says:

    I use the same wax. That reminds me that I haven’t attended to that chore in the 4 years since I made my son’s crib. Fatherhood has eaten my shop time. I’ll have to make a run out to the garage tonight and make sure there isn’t any rust eating away at the jointer.

  3. lowly says:

    JPW is also your friend if you load lead bullets. Makes a dandy lube.

  4. browndog77 says:

    One of the most often used items in my shop is a roll of waxed paper. When the tables on the machines get lightly rusted or pitch coated, a quick touch-up w/ OOO steel wool & a rub-down w/ the waxed paper makes for smooth sailing.
    Works great on hand-held tools as well.

  5. Coach James says:

    JPW here as well. About every 3 months or after a lot of use.

  6. Jim Van Zandt says:

    What’s the best coating for a metal surface that should not be slick – in particular, a drill press table?

  7. zoomzoomjeff says:

    I was NOT impressed with Boeshield on my table saw! Expensive and did not work. Going to try this wax, otherwise I have been using car paste wax.

    • zoomzoomjeff says:

      (edit)–going to try “this wax”, meaning the one pictured above.

      • KoKo the Talking Ape says:

        I understood Boeshield to be a corrosion preventer, not a dry lubricant. The technical data on their website talks about corrosion inhibition, water displacement, adhesion, etc. i.e., all things that would relate to its effectiveness in preventing rust, not in lubrication.

        Of course, JPW is not designed to be either a dry lubricant or a rust protectant. Sometimes the wrong tool for the job does work. (shrugs)

  8. Dreamcatcher says:

    I think of waxing my cast iron machines the same as I would think of ‘seasoning’ a cast iron skillet… you wax often when you first acquire it then wax less and less as time goes on; essentially just building up and maintaining the coating.

    When I first got my table saw it rusted time the humidity jumped. So, I took the time and effort to carefully remove all the rust and forced myself into a habit of waxing it after every use. Slowly I digressed to only waxing it once a month or so. Now I am able to let it go without waxing for months at a time. I assume that eventually it will only need a yearly waxing and still stay rust free.

    So, I say you must simply be diligent, keep to a maintenance routine, and above all have respect for your tools and they will constantly be ready to work for you.

    I really don’t even think of the time it takes now. I try to clean up my shop every evening or so and only need to spend seconds waxing surfaces(maintenance waxing)using the same cloths from the day before (shout out to Box-o-Rags). Just a couple quick wipes on then off… if I miss a spot today, I’ll get it tomorrow.

    You just gotta get to the point where it’s habit, not a chore.


  9. pete says:

    this wax is great if you prep, and buff properly, and only a hour is all you need for a sleek surface. my work often rips a few thousand feet of pine, and a whole lot of 3/4 ply, i wax every few weeks and everything slides with minimal effort

  10. KEM says:

    In addition to waxing, is there anything else that would be important for cast iron sitting in a cold garage in snow country all winter? Would draping with old sheets help or hurt?

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