Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Wax model making

Hello, Thank you the opportunity to ask a question. As a relatively
newcomer to wax model making I have been given a project that I must
create a tiny curvy line about 26 gauge. Also I must create cursive
writing about 20-22 gauge (like you may see on a birthday cake). I
am stumped on how to do this. Commerical wax wire is to thick and
difficult. It is as if I need some type of small tool to push hot
wax out while writing at the same time…None of my tool supply
catalogues give me any clues…Help! Thank you for your attention and
thoughts. Sincerely, Ellen Borlenghi

Hi Ellen, You can make a home made extruder …take a 1 in thick pipe
about a foot in length…for the plunger get a tight fitting piece of
wooden doweling with an even tighter fitting rubber washer screwed to
its end …to prevent the wax from leaking out the back end as you
depress the plunger. solder two bolts which have there heads cut off
to the sides on the end of the barrel…Brass dies of 18 gage or
greater can be drilled to desired thickness and mounted on the ends
of the barrel and held in place with the bolts…pour molten wax
directly into the barrel and force wax out slowly and evenly …if
the wax hardens you can reheat the whole extruder in hot water.

Good luck…Patty

Dear Ellen, woo, that’s a tough one. Consider using a needle, I use
teasing needles for biology, and an alcohol flame and manipulating
the wax as it cools to put a base down on perhaps sheet wax, then go
back and carve what you want. You have a dilly, as truly fine relief
work is very difficult. Jay

Greetings Ellen, I’m not sure I am clear as to what you are
attempting. If your piece has a background surface with a raised
curvy line this is how I would do it (I demonstrate this technique in
my Wax Carving Workshops). I carve the background material from
Ferris File-a-Wax. Smooth it as best as possible (using orange oil
based wax solvent), a piece of silk, stocking etc… Then, use a very
fine dental tool or a piece of wire held in a pin vise- (the end of
the wire or dental tool is filed flat- not tapered). Heat up the
shank of the dental tool, pick up some carvable injection wax with
the tool and draw this wax on the surface of your base wax. It will
be somewhat ‘gloppy’. Since this added injection wax is considerably
softer than the base wax you can easily scrape away the excess
applied wax with a tiny knife (like a #12 stencil knife by Exacto).
Be careful not to scrape the base wax as you are cleaning up your
applied design. The applied wax is a different color from the base
wax, making it easy to see the thickness and detail of the relief
work- like a cameo. HTH! Best Regards, Kate Wolf in Portland, Maine
where it’s so clear today you can see islands for miles…

Hi We usually do anything that has to have writting on it, weather it
is raised lettering or counter sunk into the design, on our
cnc/cadcam machinery… you can’t get lettering more accurate any
other way than that. For that matter, we use the cnc system to create
a lot of our models and we do this for some of our customers as well.
Daniel Grandi

We do casting ,finishing , soldering, fusion and a whole lot more
for designers, jewelers, catalogs,stores and people in the trade
contact :

I have been given a project that I must create a tiny curvy line
about 26 gauge. Also I must create cursive writing about  20-22

Hi Ellen,

Sounds like a somewhat daunting task for a self-acclaimed relative
newcomer! There is a device called the Matt wax gun that might allow
you to extrude the line you need and do the writing. It isn’t cheap
though. I’ve tried and failed to come up with a “home brew” wax
extruder, but haven’t invested in the Matt gun yet.

Another possibility to consider is to extrude the line and/or text
in some substance other than wax that can also be burned out. Many
plastics and organic materials can be effectively burned out like
wax. If you can find something that allows you to do the writing
(like on a cake) and then hardens or dries, you can use it by itself
or in combination with wax.

Hope this gives you food for thought!


Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)

Hi Ellen,

Couldn’t you make the model in something else and use it to create
you mold from it such as clay? The king that doesn’t harden I think
it’s platicine, I think. Hmm what about sculpy as a matter of fact
there is an extruder that can make wire shapes like round,
half-round, square and so on. You could pour investment over your
model let it dry pull out the model and EUREKA!!! a cavity for your

Maybe you could pour in say pewter then make a rubber mold from it?

“Life, what a beautiful design”

Dear Ellen, is this going to be cast in metal? I would not bother
with wax but draw my lay out on paper - to scale- and use pliers to
bend wire in the shapes you require. 20 to 26 gauge is easy to move
if annealed or you can use fine gold or silver which is available
annealed from the refiner. Sam Patania, Tucson

Sometimes you have to look at the job and decide which way is the
best way to make a piece. Personally I think you would be better off
actually sawing (piercing) the piece out of sheet. You would end up
with a cleaner piece and it would be much faster to make. Plus you
would not have to worry about it not casting correctly. You do need
to figure in the cost of the metal that is waste if your using gold.

Just my penny’s worth
Bill Wismar

Locate your local Letterpress printshop and find out if they can
develop a plastic plate for you. Then you can use a computer to set up
your type have them process it so it is a positive in the plastic
material then use lost wax casting to produce the piece.


Might try a Matt Wax Pen. I don’t really think you are going to get
what you are hoping for, letters are tough unless you have been
doing tons of them for years and years. Could you get away with
casting them?? Then there are other options…

John D.
MidLife Crisis Enterprises
C.T. Designs (sculptures)
Maiden Metals (foundry) (web site)
P.O. Bx 44
Philo, CA 95466

magnesium etched plates that are used for printing can work for some
things and are cheaper and takes less time. most of the work can be
done by etching and then you can quickly and easily customize the
wax model from the mold of the magnesium plate.

With enough projects like this you won’t be a newcomer for long.
CAD/CAM usually is the best way of producing a wax like this (insert
admission of personal bias HERE :wink: Extrusion would work but you
might need some very fancy equipment, a 3D printer comes to mind as a
very precise extruder. One thought about a low tech method is to
engrave a brass plate and use as a mold for poured or pressed wax.
Been used for years for sealing wax.

Jeff Demand