Thursday, December 8, 2011

waxing antiques

Here is a bit about what wax can do as a finish, and why I prefer to use it.

I prefer it because it is relatively cheap, reversible (comes off with household solvents) can be tinted an amazing number of colours, is water resistant, and easily repairable, while imparting a fine gloss, and protecting the wood from changes in humidity.

See my kit above?

Currently there are three kinds of wax to use according to the application in mind.

You can also see a coffee pot heater that produces a steady temperature of about 140 degrees (I measured it one day) and it will comfortably liquefy a can of wax if I want to blend stuff into it.

There are also a variety of brushes adapted to applying or polishing the wax. I also have a converted floor polisher for large surfaces like tables ( not shown.) You are allowed to modify tools.

Speaking of modified tools, there is a modified spoon/can opener where I ground the end of the spoon handle to make a convenient can opener for the cans of wax, where it does double duty as a scoop for the whole ball of wax.

Here is the whole ball of wax on wax application:

I bet you thought it was just an expression. But no, the manufacturer gives directions on the label  on how to get the best results.

To the right you can see the spoon opener ready to go to work.

Most manufacturers want you customers to get good results so you will come back and buy more , so they print the best clues they can on the side of the product.

One way to tell if the item is made by an American company is to see the Legal Department's wording. READ and UNDERSTAND THESE DIRECTIONS!

I do my best, but I assure you from teaching in a high school that the majority of readers on many tests fail to understand the simplest of directions. Like - where to put their name and the date, for instance.

I digress.

The directions are to take a piece of cotton or wool (never use synthetic fabrics for these tasks) and scoop out a quantity of wax from the can into the ball. I use the spoon opener to scoop.

Then wrap the ball with a thin cotton.  It forms a ball.  The ball of wax goes with to the next step.

Now you can see the relevance of the industrial strength (looks like a hair dryer) variable speed and temperature air blower in the photograph. (Do not dry hair with this baby, it can produce temperatures of over a thousand degrees.)

In theory the ball of wax is warmed by the hand holding it, but I cheat. I set the blower on low and use it to warm the wrapped ball of wax in my hand, and it will dispense a very thin film of wax on whatever I rub it gently upon. No need for great pressure, and I love the fine beeswax aroma coming off as I wax on.

Allow an appropriate time to pass (according to that label) and then polish. I use lint free cloth or brushes depending on the surfaces and the wax involved. You can even find brushes made from  ostrich feathers for polishing wax on antiques, if you live in France.

Here is a method of recycling old belts from bathrobes if you have lots of rungs and spindles to polish:

Wrap the belt one time around the spindle and saw it back and forth, tugging lightly.

With practice you can make it slide up and down as it goes round and round.

For the flat surfaces I use a smooth rag from an old cotton shirt.

Below is a nicely blurred shot of the finished chair, waiting for Godot.

Did I wax poetic?


Tell me what you think, what do you want to know, and I will see if I can do that in the next posts.

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