I recently received this email and I thought I would share my
I have just started to learn wax carving. Well i am trying to
teach myself is more like it. I have made a few shapes and basic
beginning things I am wondering if you could tell me how you
smooth work your work after it is finished? I rough the shape out
and try to smooth as best i can but it is not smooth at all. Then
when i try to put detail on i cant because it is too rough still.
Any help? If is was wood i would sand paper it but i tried and that
does not work too good.
I get this question frequently. I do work my waxes to an unusual
degree of smooth finish. Well, there is no magic, the smooth finish
is a result of working a piece down. I can give you a series of
I use hard smooth green wax (Ferris), special order 5mm sheets
file the wax semi smooth with a wax file so that you can see your
use a skip tooth saw blade to cut out your design
make your tools, or modify others (Kate Wolf makes an excellent
tool set, too large for my work) going from large (customize pen
knives, gouges, knitting needles, whatever) to very fine (discarded
burs, surgical blades and cutting needles,… I go down as far as
common pins that I put edges on)
always keep an extremely sharp edge on your tools, or if they have
a wider, more gradual bevel for burnishing, keep them very smooth
work very slowly from larger tool to smaller tool, eliminating
roughness as you go
you should scrape and very rarely cut
you should scrape some more
I lied, there is, in fact, a magic ingredient: time. My waxes take
from a week and a half to over a month working off and on. I make
mostly all my own carving tools, I use a Foredom wax pen with a
modified tip (sharpened and reduced in size) for initial shaping and
molding (hot wax technique) and a cheap MaxWax pen for detail add on
and finer hot shaping. I use a spring gauge to measure thickness. I
work the wax to a thickness of 0.9mm up to 1.2mm around the joints
where breakage can occur. I will go to a thickness of 2-3mm for
places where clasps are soldered or for bails. At this level of
precision, the piece automatically becomes smoothed. However, it does
take much time.
I occasionally do use sand paper with a toothpick as a backing.
Again, it is a very slow and precise operation going from 220, 320,
400, to 600 grits.
hope this helps