I know someone posted on this but searches haven’t turned up
anything. The remark was kind of a throw in when the main message
was about something soft of else.
What do you use to put the final polish on wax to remove nasty little
inperfections that will be a pain in the metal casting?
My mill sometimes leaves a bit more rough than I need, especially
when I cut off the supporting ribs.
Thanks - Justine
Let me start by saying that I finish all my waxes by hand - there
may be “faster” and more production-oriented methods available.
However, I found a wonderful set of finishing pads designed for
woodworkers who turn acrylic (think bowling ball) materials to
produce pens and such. They are 6 little 2" square, spongy pads, in
progressively fine grits. The final grit is basically a very smooth
leather-like material. I usually find that I only need to use the top
3- 4 pads to get a beautiful finish. If I want something even
smoother, I then use a little bit of “wax kleen” solvent on a Q-tip
or bit of chamois.
The pads are available through Penn State Industries
www.pennstateind.com. Item is #PKFINKIT and the price is $13.95.
(AND FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO WERE DISCUSSING DUST COLLECTION… PSI has
extensive supplies and kits available to make your own dust
collection setup, as well as various lathes, mills, polishers, etc.
They specialize in woodworking, but as you well know, many of the
tools translate quite well to jewelry.)
Having said that - there is a similar product available through Bath
& Body Works in their “True Blue Spa” line. It’s designed to
buff/polish fingernails and has 4 grits on a single block. It also
works well (not quite as many steps and can’t be bent/cut into shape
like the pad kit). Price was around $5 or $6, I think.
I use a dental scraper to smooth the slightly rougher areas left by
my mill, and then I polish it with a nylon stocking. Cut the foot of
a pair of pantyhose and use it as a polishing glove on the wax.
Some years ago, an instructor suggested using the leg of a womans
pantyhose, or a nylon stocking. Be sure to ask permission first…
one thing I’ve found helpful on the final pass when cutting wax on
the mill is to rub a bit of bur life on the wax or the tool - it acts
as both lubricant and polish.
I use Laborotory Solitine from Kerr. It should be available from
most supply house that sell waxing supplies.
Ed in Kokomo
Depending on what kind of wax you are trying to smooth, xylene or
lighter fluid on a q-tip will work, and nylon pantyhose smoothes and
Can we assume you are working with a machinable (hard) wax? If so,
there are a number of ways to smooth the wax. Depending on what kind
of surface you have, and what kind of detail will help determine what
method works best for you.
You can use abrasion, heat or flame, solvents, or a filler.
Experiment with everything.
A scraper, made of a knife-edge graver, or other similar sharp
shapes, works great to smooth down broad surfaces, like pealing
potatos, or a flat-bottomed graver works well in a pulled motion,
like drawing, on smaller areas to smooth rough surfaces.
You can try a flame or a heated air tool to “melt” the surface of
the wax slightly, but be careful with this, as you can melt detail
quickly. Sanding sticks of assorted grits will work well with hard
waxes, and the application of a wax solvent with the finer grits will
do a terrific job of smoothing surfaces. Solvents can also be applied
with the traditional piece of nylon stocking, as well.
Patch-Eze, or Disclosing wax, made for the dental industry, is a
great filler for smoothing out small abrasions or pits in wax before
casting. I usually use a clean finger to apply and smooth it before
investing my models.
Jay Whaley UCSD Craft Center
I agree with the nylon stocking trick for smoothing… love it. I
also use a small touch of denatured alcohol, wax clean or even baby
oil on the stocking and I think it oh so slightly melts the surface
and allows for maximum shine.
However, before I use the stocking, I actually use some of the 3m
green (forest green) pads found in the Rio catalogue. A very slight
touch is all that is needed- too much or to hard will scratch. But,
with a light hand you can actually get scratches out, and level any
unevenness. Make sure they are clean, after too many uses you will
notice that they start to leave stuff on the wax-- I think it’s old
wax on the pad transferring to the wax. You can also find these at
Home Depot (much cheaper). They’re plastic, like a fake brillo
scouring pad for the dishes. If you can’t find the item in the
catalogue, let me know and I’ll look it up.
One of the most useful tools we have for smoothing wax is a soft
toothbrush with one row of bristles. It is very good on soft wax.
Keep it clean with the steamer. We also sometimes paint diluted
shellac on wax models, it burns out well but make sure it is dry
before you invest it.
I use felt sticks and small hard felt polishing wheels to smooth
waxes. These can be cut down to shape, so you can reach into
I usually use these dry, as solvents tend to clog them up. I also
like those tiny rubber abrasive rods that are used on metal- the
coarser abrasives work well, and can be shaped to a point- i use them
in the flex shaft at a very low speed.
If i use a solvent, it’s one of the orange oil based ones, like Wax
Brite or Wax Kleen. These are solvents, and should be handled with
care, but are not as toxic as some of the other solvents that have
been mentioned here. After using solvents, I rinse the wax off, to
avoid further melting of the wax. (Also, i do all finishing before
using softer waxes (such as Touch Up or Relief Wax) on the carving
wax- as these softer waxes would be eroded much quicker than the
hard carving wax.)
Often, after i smooth the wax, i will go over the surface with a
black brush marker (wipe the marker on a bar of soap, so it does not
bead up on the surface of the wax). I wipe off the excess ink. This
allows me to see details on the surface of my silver and gold
carving waxes. Wherever my eye is pulled, there is something that
needs to be finessed. I keep inking, touching up with my carving
tools, and going over it with felt, re-inking… until i look at the
piece and am not distracted by any details.
There are some free wax tutorials on my websites
http://www.wolftools.biz and http://www.wolfwax.com I’m in the
process of shooting some free video tutorials (this is helping me get
geared up to shoot a series of full length videos.) I hope this
Have a great day!
Kate Wolf in Portland Maine, hosting wicked good workshops by the bay