Carnauba Wax is my finish of choice for any piece of wood working, it is shiny, looks great (and not plastic), it is tough, and it is food safe.
The most efficient way to apply it, especially if you want to keep it tough, is to avoid melting it with (too much) bees wax or turpentine, and keep it rock hard, applying it with a flannel buffing wheel.
Getting such raw Carnauba blocks is not that easy, even if you can find it in wood-turners supply shops, it is often expensive.
Far less expensive is the raw Carnauba sold as a wax ingredient, but unfortunately, it is sold in flakes.
Here is how I melt the Carnauba flakes and mold them to the shape of sticks, using some cardboard tubes.
It is handy to keep it in the cardboard, and just tear up the top of the cardboard when you need a new chunk.
Take care however, the pure Carnauba keeps brittle and don't forget to wear eye protection when you apply it to the spinning wheel.
Great idea! The following questions are a bit off topic:
1. Have you ever applied your carnauba wax to metal tools (for corrosion protection)?
I typically apply automotive wax (hard paste wax sold in tins) to the surface of my metal tools (i.e. frames, not working parts) for this purpose - It seems to do the job, (i.e no corrosion) but then I live inland (in a fairly dry climate). I have often wondered if this is the best approach.
2. In your opinion would auto paste wax be a valid alternative to carnauba wax for coating non-food grade wood?
3. Why would carnauba wax be better than an oiled finish? i.e. earlier in my life we had several pieces of teak and walnut furniture which we treated with teak oil - which nicely preserved the wood, wasn't greasy, and gave a nice low lustre finish.
Calgary, AB Canada
Salut Gary ,
I preferably use a purposely made oil on my cutting tools like saws of chisels or planes.
Finishing wood can be a complex process and wax can be considered as the last step of finishing. It is not a good idea to use wax on the bare wood, you would obtain something shiny for a few days and the shine wood get dull rapidly because the wood will absorb somewhat, part of he wax.
I also love oils and use them a lot, however there are plenty of different oils and they have different properties and qualities.
You have penetrating oils, which soak deeply the wood. They are good for stabilizing soft woods and will protect well from moisture, but they can be very long to dry. Here it is frequent to finish with wax once the oil is dry.
You have polymerizing oils (linseed for instance) that will leave a film on the surface of the wood. They can be considered as a varnish (like the german school does on violins). The drying time cans be speed up by boiling the oil or adding siccative, but still needs a few hours.
I use a lot this kind of finish especially on my tool handles. It looks good and is tough.
And you have the modern oil based mixtures (actually added with some kind of resins) like the Danish Oil or TrueOil. This one I love very much and actually, I finish my string instruments with it. It can be very shiny and builds up like a varnish. it is easy to repair.
But again, you need time and some attention to apply it.
What makes Carnauba wax my finish of choice, especially for wood turning is that it is very fast to apply, the result is wonderful and very long lasting. It resists quite well handling (although I would not recommend for finishing a pen for instance). I always prepare the wood first with several application of a pore filler. If it must be food safe, I use shellac, and if not, I use a cellulosic sealer, which is the fastest to dry.
In several minutes, I can apply at least three coats of sealer and the final wax on the lathe.
Wood turning is the only discipline where you can go from the log to the finished product in less than an hour :o)
For instance, here is my last piece I had to do very fast in the evening after work to offer it the day after in the morning. It is finished with three coats of shellac (mahogany has big open pores) and Carnauba. Total time: maybe 1h20mn (most of the time spent at the sanding step).
Last edited by Christophe Mineau; 03-23-2017 at 03:21 PM.
The finishing technique you describe for your lathe-turned bowls clearly produces a very nice finish, as shown in your photos. I must try that on my next wood project. I didn't realize (until you explained your approach) that (just as with other types of wood finishing), the wood pores must be sealed first before applying the final wax coating.
By the way, the Carnauba paste wax that I apply to the frames of my woodworking machine tools is a product called 'Mothers California Gold' - This is advertised as a 'natural formula' consisting of no.1 Brazilian yellow carnauba wax without any added ingredients. After buffing off the haze it is quite hard.
Apparently this wax can be a pure product because it is applied as the third step in the Mothers Inc. automobile paint protection system i.e. after the pre-wax cleaner and sealer-glaze steps. It is, of course, especially important that this product not have any added silicon so as to avoid contaminating any unfinished wood in my shop. Consequently I have avoided the use of other auto or furniture waxes since I don't trust the contents. I still wonder if, given the purity of the Mothers carnauba wax, it could be used for wood finishing? Yet you obviously add other ingredients to your wax formulation - Is the purpose of the bees wax to function as a stabilizer?
I also regularly apply a fluorocarbon sealant to the way tubes, table surfaces and blades of my woodworking machine tools to reduce sliding friction and provide corrosion protection - Topcote is my current favourite.
Jusqu'à la prochaine fois,
Gary Kingsep (kngtek)
Calgary AB Canada
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