Battery-Powered Tools

Greetings. I’m writing to find out if any of you have advice about
battery-powered tools for wax carving. I am especially interested in
battery-powered materials for melting wax and, if possible a
battery-powered wax pen. Thanks in advance for your responses.

I had one that ran off a pen cell, it ATE batteries and in the end I
converted it to run off a pyrography power supply. I have three
heated wax tools of different sizes for different jobs, some form of
heat control is very useful for different waxes, think soldering
irons, you don’t seem to see those run by battery. Sorry not to be
more helpful


I have used a battery powered wax pen called the wax max. I bought
it at Rio Grande before I could afford an electric set up. I don’t
like the pen, and I don’t really use it anymore. Perhaps if I had
been a more experienced wax worker when I began to use it, I would
have found its merits. Rio advertises that"…some wax carvers love
it so much that they use it instead of an electric system." I can’t
imagine why, as an alchhol lamp is cheaper and works better than the
pen in my opinion. The thing is tempermental too. Sometimes it
doesn’t heat and then you have to take the battery out, put it back
in, and maybe then it will work again. Two thumbs down on the max

A. Derenthal
Cry Baby Designs

Interesting that this topic arises. I have been using the Max-Wax
for years now. I like the very fine tip and have learned to do the
dance with it of holding the button long enough to get the heat I
need, but not long enough to start smoking. I have talked to the
folks at Gesswein, Rio, Stuller, and Foredom quite recently about
redesigning it. The dream tool would have a recharging stand, be more
ergonomically formed, have a tunable and steady heat control, and a
better button switch. I was told that this indeed would be a
desirable tool, but that there was a rather limited base of wax
workers that would be interested in it, making the design and
production of it unprofitable. After all, the Max-wax goes for only
$16 or so. This tool would go for over $60 as a guess. Still, I would
just love to have one.

I think that someone mentioned that they had devised a setup that
was driven by a plugged in rheostat, but I like the portability and
the freedom of the battery driven pen.

Further, much wax model making is done on computer now (we might
quibble with the design quality, I know that what I do could not be
computer generated, at least so far), but the market trend is away
from hand carved and hand built up waxes. The dental market is also
going to computer and the price competition is send much of the
dental work to Asia for wax work, casting, and finishing. For my work
(see:, go to Wax gallery), the alcohol system
is much too uncontrollable and does not allow anything like the fine
detail that I aim for. So, I start out with the Foredom electric pen
with tips that I modify. One tip is carved down to a much smaller
profile and another has a 28 gage silver wire loop soldered to the
tip. Then, in the latter stage of carving, I use the Max-wax.
However, the waxes that I do have been taking up to a month or more
recently and drive my caster (Racecar Design) somewhat loopy. So,
again, this technique has a very limited applicability.

One tip for the Max Wax, drill a small hole right in front of the
button, carefully so that you do not go through the metal
underneath. Then you can adjust the tension on the button switch.

I like the Max Wax pen very well, except for the way it uses up
batteries so fast. It is very controllable, in an odd sort of way.
You can heat up the tip and then wait an instant before using it,
thus regulating the heat. But as the batteries wear down, the maximum
temperature is not so hot, and this cool down time is less necessary.
I like the pen best at that time. You can tell I have spent many
hours with it! It would still be nice to use if I wanted to work away
from the studio, or outdoors, or something. But I finally got a
plug-in wax pen that doesn’t have the battery-eating problem, and now
I use that all the time in the studio.

M’lou Brubaker
Minnesota, USA

You can use rechargeable batteries with the Max-Wax. Get the 15
minute rechargeables from Radio Shack. Doesn’t help the difference in
the heat/ cool cycle that happens when the batteries are fully
charged vs. when the batteries are at low charge.


If you want to cut the heat of a Max-Wax tool the resistor sizes

0.10 ohm
0.22 ohm
0.27 ohm
0.33 ohm

I used 3 watt resistors and just used the tool tips with a new
handle with a built in micro-switch, not too hard to make with copper
tube are silicone sleeving, I have some instuctions and photos if
anyone is interested, these sizes give you a good range of heats. It
still eats batteries though perhaps even faster.

regards Tim.

A good solution is to invest in a set of nickel metal hydride
batteries and battery charger. NiMH battery charges last a lot longer
than regular batteries. Been using them for years in my digital camera
and I’d say I can take about 4x as many shots with these.

The charging is quick and the batteries can be re-used many, many
times. I’ve noticed they are available in more stores and less
expensively. Even harbor freight is selling them now.

A while back they had a nice charger that handles different size
batteries on sale for around $15.