by Christopher Simpson on 02/15/2012
Since we started importing and selling the Goddard's Cabinet Makers Wax I have been receiving more questions than usual about wax in general. So I am going to take a second to explain some of the details of wax.
In my restoration business I use four different waxes on a regular basis. They are all very unique in how they are applied and what they offer.
First the wax that I call my work horse Goddard's Paste Wax. This wax was discontinued in the United States several years ago. I tryed many other waxes to take its place, but there were no substitutions. This wax spreads so easily with 0000 steel wool. It contains a perfect blend of beeswax (the soft spreadable wax), and Carnuba wax (which hardens giving you a shine, higher level of moisture protection, and a slick surface which helps prevent superficial scratches). All waxes have a vehicle or in other words a liquid that stops the wax from becoming solid. Goddard's uses a white spirit that is not harsh on delicate finishes and evaporates slowly so that you have plenty of time to spread it out evenly. All of this, plus its great lemon verbena scent, are why I love it so much. Apply with 0000 steel wool lightly and evenly in a circular pattern then finish off with the grain; let stand for 15-20 min. then buff out with a horse hair or shoe brush, let sit another 15-20 min. and buff out with nylons. Tip: Be sure you are buffing with a smooth part of the nylons, no waist band or seams to avoid streaks.
Two of my other waxes fall under the catagory of restorative wax.
First Renaissance Wax. This wax was developed by the British Museum Society and is very expensive, but for good reason; it draws out oils and contaminants from other polishes and leaves an unmatched protective layer. Being a micro-crystalline structure it breaks down when buffed lending an extremely smooth clear surface to show off fine wood grain and inlaid detail. Another attribute is that it is chemically neutral meaning it is safe for the most delicate surfaces making it the number one choice of museums the world round. If you plan on using this wax on you dining room table...don't. If you plan on using it on something like a fine inlaid writing slope call me, I'll let you know the best way.
The Second wax in my restorative arsenol is Lakeone buffing wax. This wax cures hard and shines up really well due to the addition of candelilla wax to its bees wax base. My favorite thing about this wax is that it comes in a multitude of different colors that can give life back to a bleached out wood surface, or it can give another dimension to any finish for that extra wow factor...especially on carving, by wiping it off the highs and leaving it in the lows it will make the details pop. The natural colorants in this wax are u.v. resistant and penetrate deep. You may be thinking why not use this wax on everything it sounds great! Well, it is great but there are a few cons. The vehicle used is a little more harsh than others allowing deeper penetration, but if not careful it can damage more delicate finishes. The other thing is that if left on a surface too long before spreading even it can leave color streaks, and you would never want to use it on a chair or any other furniture that people come in regular contact with because it will transfer onto clothing and permanantly stain in some cases. Again call or e-mail me if you have any questions about application.
The final wax in my bag of goodies is Briwax, a wax that everyone knows but few really know how to use. I will start by explaining the compound, which is a carnuba and beeswax base with an extremely astringent vehicle called toluene. Toluene is well known as a gasoline additive and an active chemical in the explosive tnt compound. It will also strip weaker finishes like French polishes. I am telling you this to inform you not to scare you away from using it. I use this wax on raw wood like pine or oak. This will create a beautiful glowing patina. This straight forward wax finish is easy to scar but just as easy to touch up... just add more wax. Back in the day beeswax was mixed with water and lye then caustic soda. The reason for the lye or caustic soda was to break surface tension, open pours and fight past natural oils in the wood allowing the wax to penetrate deep into the wood creating the optimal protection. This compound was called wax milk and was used primarily on raw wood floors, stair cases, etc. I bring this up because to me Briwax is the modern day wax milk.
Thats the quick version, the wax 101. I hope to find more time in the future to elaborate on the finer points. I think film finishes could use a bit of explanation along with about a hundred other topics. I hope this was concise and informative. Again feel free to call or e-mail any time if you need added clarity.
Thanks for stopping by the site,