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Cheap home-made wax working tools?

Can anybody in internetland suggest any cheap home-made wax working
tools? I already have found the suggestions from the BRAIN (Lewton,
that is) for the ground off drill bit milling tool and the Forged
brass tool, but is there anything else that you guys can think of?

In addition, I am going to try to rig a wax lathe with a 1/30 HP (not
1/3 misprinted) motor I found. Will it work? How would you hold the
piece of wax for turning, either solid or holed ringwax? I would
appreciate any suggestions. Thanks.


Can anybody in internetland suggest any cheap home-made wax
working tools? 

Ask your dentist to give you any broken tools.

Hi Marshall,

  1. Cheap home-made wax working tools.

Buy a packet of large steel nails, none of that coated galvanised
rubbish (well rubbish for this application).

You will need access to a bench grinder.

Simply grind the nails to the shape you want.

Probably cost you about $5, plus time.

  1. Wax Lathe.

I had a look in the Rio catalogue, and these seem reasonable

I found something similar in a hardware store, but for the amount of
dickery involved in the modification the collets in the above link
are a better way to go.

Regards Charles A.

So depends on what you are REALLY after!!! We use all sorts of
dental tools, modified as needed. Also copper wire pressed into
handles and the working tips formed as needed, lots of these as
well as the dental tool ones. Then do you want hot tools or cold
working tools? Carving, scratching, hot forming, etc. What are you

I do mostly foundry wax work and I have made (and bought) a number
of different variable heat, wax working tools. The cheapest ones are
different soldering irons plugged into dimmer switch boxed, a
set the temp and work with it and “make” your own tips from 9G ground
wire from the hardware store.

Then I wanted and needed more temp control so plugged these units in
line to a foot operated speed control (from a flex shaft). Found the
soldering iron units too slow in the heat up, cool down cycling so
went to wire tips.

These work GREAT!!! Fast, and I mean near instant, heating to
red hot if needed, and then very fast cool down. I make a number of
different heating tips as need arises. These units require changing
voltage/amperage to the tips and I have used an older "power unit"
for an old wire wax unit that we had. This is my, by far, favorite
wax tool.

There are soldering units that have a temp feed back that maintains
tip heat at the set level (these are digital and I got one for about
$100 at an electronics store) but again there is a time lag with the
heat where as the wire tip units are, as I have already stated, near

Just some thoughts and ideas.
John Dach

Can anybody in internetland suggest any cheap home-made wax
working tools? 

Get some pieces of wood dowel, perhaps 1/4 inch diameter, 4 inches
or so long, or as you like. Drill a small pilot hole into each end,
and hammer a largish finishing nail into the end far enough so it’s
secure. Now hammer the head of the nail flat (sideways). The
resulting “spoon” or blade shape can be further shaped with files,
sanding disks, etc. Don’t heat these up if you want any cutting edges
you form to remain fairly usable, since the hammering work hardens
the mild steel, and heating will anneal it. these aren’t exactly pro
quality tools, but are extremely low cost to make, and quick too, and
for basic level wax carvers, will work fine.

In addition, I am going to try to rig a wax lathe with a 1/30 HP
(not 1/3 misprinted) motor I found. Will it work? How would you
hold the piece of wax for turning, either solid or holed ringwax? I
would appreciate any suggestions. Thanks. 

Better if you have a flex shaft with a #30 style jacobs chuck. If
you do, then find at the hardware store, the type of nut that’s
designed to be driven into a drilled hole in a piece of wood, with
protruding spikes around the threaded center section holding into the
wood. I seem to recall they’re called T nuts, but I could be wrong on
that. They look like a disk shape with an internally threaded tube in
the center, and usally 4 spikes cut and bent down from the rim of the
disk to be paralell to the tube. Anyway. Assuming you figure out
what I’m talking about and can find some, with a thread that’s small
enough so the matching bolt will fit into your jacobs chuck, then get
a matching bolt, perhaps an inch long, and a standard hex nut as
well, to fit. Cut the head off the bolt. thread first the hex nut,
then the T nut, onto the end, with the prongs facing out. The thread
of the bolt should come just to the end of the hole in the T nut, and
then the hex nut is tightend up against the T nut to jam it in
position. Or you could silver solder the T nut to the bolt, so long
as neither your bolt or T nut is cadmium or zinc plated. If either of
those, then use low melting lead solder or stick with the hex nut and
no solder. Anyway, the T nut can be heated up and melted into a chunk
of wax rod, into the end. Try to get it centered reasonably well. The
thread of the bolt then fits into your jacobs chuck and voila, you’ve
affixed a block of wax to your rotating tool for turning with files,
scrapers, or whatever. You can brace the whole thing over your bench
pin in use, resting any turning tools against the pin as well. Files,
though, are safer. This, by the way, is the same way that wax rods
are mounted to the Matt wax lathe. Simple, and it works well. The
Matt lathe has additional bells and whistles, and is easier to use
for more tasks, especially making an inside ring hole, or for
delicate turning with turning tools, since the tool rest is built in.
But you can do it the simple way too.

There’s also a neat little tool for sale you might consider. I seem
to recall a name like ringmaster or some such. Maybe waxmaster.
dunno. It’s a threaded rod with a fixed stop nut halfway down, then a
thread free area that mounts to your flex shaft. a Tapered plug rests
against that fixed nut. Another is mounted in the other direction,
and secured with a second movable nut. To use, it also comes with a
series of plastic collets, with matching tapers drilled into each
side. You mount the right size collet on the shaft between the nuts,
and then a section of wax ring tube stock, which you have previously
filed, scraped, or otherwise made the desired ring size, gets mounted
on that collet. When you tighten the end nut, the collet expands,
holding the wax in place, ready for you to lathe turn just as you
might do with the wax mounted to the T-nut I previously described. As
I recall, this was not a costly tool. Maybe 20 bucks? It would be a
little harder to actually make, so it makes sense to buy it if you
can afford, and want it. The advantage over the T nut method is that
because you start turning with the inside hole already the right
size, the band can easily be made concentric, and as well, it’s easy
to flip the band end to end while working, or to remove and remount
the band as you work. The T nut method doesn’t allow that.

hope that helps

You should get many suggestions from this list.Here is an inexpensive
way that I showed students. Get a piece of wooden dowel 1/4 inch or
around 6 to 7 mm in diameter.Cut into 4 to 5 inch long pieces for
your handles. Get a wire clothes hanger. Cut hanger into two inch
sections, drill holes into dowel pieces, insert metal pieces into
dowel handles. Helps to use epoxy on them before inserting into
holes. Shape and sharpen with grinding wheel and sandpaper to shapes
and sizes you like.You’re only carving wax so they will last a long
time. Let me know if you want me to send a pic of a finished one that
I use all the time.


Marshall, 1/30 H.P. is sure tiny for a spindle motor… but you
might make it work with light cuts. If I need tools I don’t want to
make from scratch, I go to Harbor Freight and buy the little junk
tools and then grind them to what I need… just drind & quench in
oil or water…to keep the hardness. You can grind out some tools for
turning that will almost do “Automatic” rings! Just grind the profile
and go slow with thwax. You can grind, sharpen, heat & quench…then
re-sharpen about any steel to hardness enough to work in the wax.
Ummmm… don’t let sweet thing catch ya… but old stainless
silverware works like a dream. :wink: You can find chucks to hold the

Good Luck.

DeArmond Tool

Have you tried useing nickle silver rods forged and shaped? I assume
that you are using the addition technique. There are only two
techniques, addition and subtraction! The method used most often is
with a flex shaft and burrs of varios sizes and shapes, also a
straight blade scalpel comes in handy.

I use old bike spokes mounted into wood dowel (for the handle). Once
mounted, I planish them flat, and then use my grinder or flex shaft
tools to shape them how I want. It’s easy to make a 1.6mm channel
cutter that will not only be at a level depth, but the exact same
width for the length of the channel. Also, dental tools can be
reshaped with good effect. The main (non file) wax tools that I use
are gravers. Next time you’re carving, pull out your gravers and
love it! Happy carving, Mike


I once tool a wax carving class where the instructor had the students
make tools out of nails which the student hammered flat and then
shaped the end with a file. Then a piece of wodden dowel was drilled
to push the round end to the nail into. Seemed to work fine for most
students. In doing this you could shape the nails to make mini tools
which simulate woodworking tools.

Also, there are a bunch of different waxes out there. Some probably
work well in the situation your investigating. there are different
hardnesses of wax, the hardest of which would probably work well for
your use. I would check with some dental lab supply houses.


As Richard points out, there are many different waxes available. If
you are doing carving, get some small quantities of Matt Purple,
Blue, and green, carving wax and see which suits you best. Rio
carries a large assortment of waxes. And of course, you will need
some sticky wax, and some sprue wax.

As far as tools, although I have a lot of wax carving tools, I find
I favor my inexpensive little exacto knife for most carving. You can
certainly start with home made ones made from nails and other items
easily available. Many do very fine work with these. The nice thing
about working with waxes is that one does not need a big investment
in tools. Of course, I am not a good example, as I have far too
many–most of which are seldom if ever used. Many many years ago, I
took a class in casting and the instructor was a tool junkie, and
handed us a long list of suggested wax working tools. Being a good
little student, quite young, and not very wise I purchased everything
on the list. Some have never been used, and some rarely.

So, start out with your inexpensive home made ones,made from
sharpened nails, and altered dental tools. As you progress, you can
add more expensive ones. For example, I find that a good set of
gravers is a necessity for carving seats for stones. And of course,
calipers are essential for accurate measurements. I also use a set of
wax burrs and consider them a necessity for what I am doing. However,
the tool I cherish the most is my little exacto knife.


I saw an interesting post on a friends FB page. He had used his flex
shaft / rotary tool as a lathe to shape the tips of bamboo skewers.
Into nice little balls and cones and other handy shapes for working
with wax. I was also thinking you could probably use a knife to give
them flat surfaces with pointy tips. In any case bamboo skewers are
an invaluable multi purpose tool. In this Homo sapien’s opinion.


Yes, I think used dental tools, which you can get from a dentist
probably for free, will do the trick.

Russ Hyder

I have many modified exacto knife blades that I use. Just shape with
a mizzy wheel, refine with files or sanding tools, whatever. I then
refine with some 600 emery paper to smooth out the roughness on the


margie, I would love to see a pic of your home-made tool!

Thanks, Amery
Amery Carriere Designs


How can I share files and pictures with the list?

Or… send the files to the attention of and
we will upload them for you…


Talk to your dentist. Ask them to save their old hand tools. They
can be used for sculpting wax.

There are companies like American surplus and science.
( in the US that have a wide
range of all types of useful “stuff”.

If you are handy you can wire an extension cord to a light dimmer to
an electrical socket. I mounted mine in one electrical outlet box
from a home improvement store. Then buy a soldering iron with extra
tips (stay cheap). You can flatten the tips and reshape them. All
less than $10 US. Plug it into the dimmer controlled outlet and
adjust heat so you don’t get lots of smoke and sputtering. This can
also be used for a hot glue gun and wax pellets. Make sure the gun
fits the pellets.

Also look at Easter Egg wax decorating kits. After the season they
are very cheap.

Good luck
Steve Ramsdell