A Hard Burnished Wax Finish.
To protect and preserve the work, I now normally apply a wax finish to the piece. I’m not a fan of varnish or lacquer style finishes as I feel they can give the finished piece a “plastic” sort of look when they’re finished.
The wax I use and recommend is Gilly Stephenson’s cabinetmakers wax. It is a combination of beeswax and carnauba wax in a gum turpentine base. From my own experience I’ve found that beeswax, on it’s own, never fully dries and can become sticky and attract dust, and carnauba wax, on it’s own is very hard to work with. The cabinet makers wax from Gilly Stephenson ticks all the boxes for me as it is easy to use, polishes up beautifully, and is very realistically priced.
The method I use to apply it is detailed below.
Sand your work piece up to 1200 or 1500 grit using the method described in “How to get the most from your Rotex, (Part 1)
Put your sander aside but don’t remove the sanding disc
Use a soft cotton cloth and apply a thin coat of the wax to the surface. Rub it evenly over the surface making sure there are no lumps of wax. Remember to only apply a thin coat. You can apply more coats as you go Once the wax has been spread over the surface leave it aside for about ten minutes.
Now, the next stage is the really fun part.
Grab your rotex and double check that it’s on speed 1 as well as in rotex mode. Place the sander on the work piece, turn it on, and slowly and steadily work over the entire surface of your project. The small amount of heat that your creating is sufficient to open the pore of the timber and let the wax in, whilst the 1500 grit abrasive smooths and distributes the wax evenly over the surface.
Don’t overwork the surface: just a few minutes should do it.
When you’ve finished this stage you need to grab a paper napkin; yes, you read it right, a paper napkin. When I was teaching for festool and I knew I had a sanding workshop coming up the first thing I’d do would be to head down to the local McDonald’s and grab a handful of their paper napkins.
So, now you’ve got your napkin, place it on the work piece, then place your rotex , (with the 1500 grit abrasive still on it), on top of it. Double check that your’re in rotex mode and on speed 1.
You should begin to see the shine develop very quickly. The paper towel equates to about a 6000grit, (approx) abrasive and cuts back the surface beautifully.
You can repeat the process and add as many layers of wax as you like. The more layers you have the deeper and more lustrous the finish but I recommend that you leave at least 24 hours between applications.
Try this finishing method on some off cuts of a few different species of timber. By doing this you’ll create a “library” of finished samples which can really add the ‘wow’ factor to any presentations you give to potential commission clients if the future. What it also does is give you more practice with the sander so you can become more familiar with, and refine your technique on the sander.
I hope this article helps you in working with your rotex and achieving better finishes that you’d previously thought possible. As always, please post a comment or send me an email if you’ve got any questions.