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Carving wax preference?


Greetings Orchidians, These questions are for those of you who carve
wax. What wax do you prefer to carve? Why?

Best Regards,
Kate Wolf in Portland, Maine. Hosting workshops by the bay.


Hello Kate: I use the hard green carving wax. I order the 6 X 1 and
5/16 inch solid tube. I cut it into 2 inch pieces and then melt my
Matt wax lathe arbors into them. I use the Matt lathe on every ring I
make. The green wax holds detail well and is best for milling and
lathe work. It melts well and is good for build up. I’ve gotten to
where I don’t much care for the softer waxes. I have a kitchen exaust
hood over my bench so all the fumes from melting go away very nicely.

Michael R. Mathews Sr. Victoria,Texas


Seems we have been down this road before ,but so what! Here we go
again. My preference is the purple wax tubes manufactured by Matt. I
prefer the tubes in the cardboard boxes as opposed to the ones in
the plastic. The wax seems to be a different formula. I buy the
tubes in boxes wherever I find them although they are usually old
stock… The purple wax , for my needs, is less brittle than the blue
or green and not a flexible as the red which flexes away from the
knife when carving fine detail. I suggest you buy one of each color
and try them to see which you like best. All are usable they just
have different uses. So now lets talk about your favorite tools for
working wax… I use exacto knife blades that have been ground to
specific shapes for carving. I like them the length of the knife
edge but ground down to about 1.25-1.5mm in height, including the
cutting edge. This forms a long thin blade that is great for carving
small delicate structure. Do not try to cut anything else with them
or try to carve a large piece as the break very easily. Next is the
master touch wax worker. This wax pen provides the most delicate of
control of temperature and tool I have ever used. Last is the good
old standby riffler files. My choices for the work I do. Frank Goss


Hi Kate, I use Matt green carving wax tablets and ring tubes. I
prefer the smooth tablets as opposed to rough band saw cut pieces
because they’re ready to use. I’ve also used a Matt formula that
wasn’t as stringy when burred. I think it was a formula developed
for milling applications. I got to play with some on a test basis
and liked it. You might want to contact Adolfo Mattiello if you’re
interested in this wax.

Donna Shimazu


File-a-wax from any jewelry supplier or Kindt Collins in CO (the
mfgr). Carves like grainless hard wood, with any power tools/bits.
Takes a great edge, can be shined like polished metal.

Negative thing is it is difficult to cast (very high melting temp)
but we never cast our masters, we make RTV molds of them, shoot a
wax and cast it. Also a bit difficult to “add” much wax to a goof,
as there is a lot of shrinkage/expansion. To attach large blocks
together, it is recommended using high strength adhesives.



Dear Kate, My preference for carving is the purple Ferris wax.
This is harder than blue and less brittle than green. The purple
takes fine detail, does not break on the mandrel or when dropped as
does the green wax. Blue is ok but purple takes a slightly better
detail overall. Then again, if the casting is not done to the best
manner, stick to the easiest to carve without breakage and finish up
in the metal. Very few castings are perfect in detail and all need
finishing. I leave the final emphasis of detail to direct metal
work, removing metal imperfections and adding final finish as

Readers should be aware of the reason I mentioned the brandname,
Ferris. Colors are not a true guide in the open market. The wax of
a particular color from one maker is often not the same character as
that of another manufacturer. Those familiar with Ferris will have
a guide from which to start.

I work often with spinning for shape, using an adjustable mandrel
made to polish stone rings, such as jade. The mandrel is used in a
flexshaft machine. For other forms, a coarse rotary file is used
followew with finer stuff and the finest “Scotchbrite” type pads.
The ones for rubbing wood finishes( sold by Woodcraft, etc.) work
very well when wetted. I use mostly gravers for cutting detail into
the wax in final form and hand made metal scrapers and other tools
for specific designs and cuts.

Thanks, will look to the results of your inquiry as others reply.
Thomas. professional jeweler. @Sp.T


I use alot of blue,its a good general purpose wax, does okay with
detail, but green is great for very small detail,like
lettering,textures,etc… No one single type of wax does it all, but
each is better for specific situations, and of course everyone
developes favorites too. Ed


Hi Kate. My preference is Ferris File-a Wax and though all are very
good, I think the blue would be my first choice for general use. It
works a sharp line, isn’t as brittle as the green, and I like the
color. Would use more purple but don’t care for the color of it at
all. Blue is easier to see, and gauge the thickness against the
light as I mostly do. But still love that green for fine detail.

Happy waxing,

. . . These questions are for those of you who carve wax. What wax
do you prefer to carve? Why?

Hi Kate;

On your advice (from an Orchid posting of yours), I began using
Ferris’s purple carving wax and I’m quite satisfied with it. I still
have a quantity of Kerr’s green, which I like for very hard edged
carvings, carving channels, etc., anytime I need to make precise
waxes. I find the green the easiest to read also, but for the
economy of it, I’m using the Ferris purple mostly. I do think the
Ferris wax is cleaner. The Kerr tended to have little lumps,
especially the blue, which seemed like lint in it. I still use the
Kerr blue wax when I have to carve delicate waxes, and just pray I
don’t have one of those lumps where I don’t need it. I also defer
to the blue when I suspect I’m looking at one of those customers who,
when you tell them “this wax is quite delicate, so I’m sorry you
can’t try it on your finger”, go instantly and completely deaf and
promptly jam that fragile wax on their fat little finger, breaking it
into 6 or so pieces. By the way, another product I recommend, and I
can’t remember offhand if it’s a Kerr or Ferris product, is “Perfect
Purple”. It’s great for repairing a wax, or for assembling a wax
from smaller wax parts. Just hold a drop of it, molten, on your wax
pen for a moment, then touch it to the joint, and it will quickly
flow into the seam. If you turn your wax pen down lower, to where
it’s still a little sludgey, you can build up ridges along channels
or around bezels if you think you’ll need a little extra metal to
push down over the stone.

David L. Huffman


Hi, We use “Matt” brand carving wax seems to have fewer defects .
Blue is best for free form carving , Purple is best for a more
controlled form , The green is too hard for “carving” but is used
for precise “filed” models .

Mark Clodius


Hi Guys, I carve wax pretty much all day everyday at work and for
most general carving I prefer either Matt brand purple wax or Ferris
brand Purple. I find that these waxes are hard enough to be easy
file, burr and carve without being to brittle to do fine work like
pierced out settings and such… For turning wax like on a lathe I
like the green waxes for their hardness and cutability. They don’t
heat up as quick and you get a nice smooth finish, especially with
Ferris Green wax (very smooth). I don’t like any of the blue waxes I
have tried, they just don’t feel as nice for me to work with. Hope
this gives some insight :slight_smile: Raymond Lees


Hi Kate-Master-Model-Maker! I tend to gravitate to purple Ferris wax
tubes for my ring carvings. The quality is consistent, the hardness
is good for 95% of what I do, and I even like the slight ridge that
runs along the tube at the top and bottom which I use as a guideline
for symmetry when starting to carve the wax.

Thanks again for your help last year in choosing a new waxer.
You’ve mentioned here how you attached yours to a piano hinge - I
just haven’t been able to figure out how that works, but I’d love to
know, and maybe there are others out there who would like to know

Cindy Crounse
Refined Designs Original Fine Jewelry


Here are some examples of my wax model making. I am available to do
occasional models. Contact me at 617-354-4297,


yea, for outright carving, as in a hard material, i use green
ferris, but if i wanted to solder one to the other, that is no
problem, right?, as long as they are both melted at the time of contact?? dp


I do a lot of building up and carving down, and my two favorite
waxes are the "perfect purple " wax, and a wax I bought from Dick
Blick years ago called Sierra Red. I haven’t seen that one for sale
for years.

Janet Kofoed


Hi, Kate I’ve always preferred Ferris blue for most things, although
the green is good for crisp designs that need to maintain some
structural stability. I’ve used the purple on occasion. By the
way, I got a lot out of your all too short demo in Tucson this past
year. Thanks, -BK in AK


I’ve been carving wax for about 30 years now, and have worked with
most kinds at one time or another. I use the hardest waxes pretty
much exclusively now. As most of my pieces tend to be fairly
complex, I need something that will retain it’s characteristics when
warmed by my hands. The softer waxes tend to get even softer when
held in my fingers for extended periods. The problem with
brittleness is overcome with the development of technique.

I learned early on that the wax should be as close as possible to
what you want the finished piece to be. There are no suprises in
finishing that way, and there is a greater degree of economy
resulting from less filing away of the precious metals. I dislike
Matt green because it has a grainy texture that does not take fine
detail well. My wax of choice it Ferris File-a-Wax in green. It is
consistent in working properties and takes the best detail. I go
into this in more detail in my video, Basic Wax Carving, carried by
Rio in the tool catalog.

– Spike Cornelius Portland, Or. RC ArtMetal


Dear Kate & All,

I too like the Ferris Purple wax in any shape. I started carving
this wax in 1971. It hasn’t changes in all that time. The green is
too brittle and the blue flakes a bit too much when doing fine
detail. It works well on a lathe and files without clogging the file.
I even use it with CNC milling to cut bezels with letters.

By the way Harbor Freight sells a great set of wood files that work
well for rough wax filing. This is a 12 piece set of ten files and
two handles. I just bought a couple last week. They list for under
$10.00 and go on sale once in a while for under$5.00.

Best Regards,
Todd Hawkinson

Thanks again for your help last year in choosing a new waxer.
You've mentioned here how you attached yours to a piano hinge - I
just haven't been able to figure out how that works, but I'd love
to know, and maybe there are others out there who would like to
know too... 

Hi Cindy, I have my wax pen on a pivoting shelf underneath my bench
top. (I swivel it up when not in use to get it out of the way). If
anyone wants to see a picture- email me and I will forward jpegs. Have
a great day- and thanks all for answering my preference questions!

Best Regards,
Kate Wolf in Portland, Maine hosting workshops by the bay.

for outright carving, as in a hard material, i use green ferris,,
but if i wanted to solder one to the other, that is no problem,
right?, as long as they are both melted at the time of contact?? 

Hi David, you are correct- it’s fine to join different hardnesses of
carving wax together. If they are both molten where they are
connected you will get a good bond

Best Regards,
Kate Wolf in Portland, Maine hosting workshops by the bay.