Waxing Paper

The Waxing Process,

As an aspiring bookbinder for a couple of years now I’m always on the hint for interesting and innovative ways to cover and decorate the handmade books and journals that we make.

A few months ago whilst shopping in Fitzroy, Victoria for some endpapers for a commission journal that my daughter and I were making for a client, we happened across some beautiful handmade papers from Nepal which featured embedded dried flowers and the had most awesome texture. We settled on a few sheets for the commission and grabbed another couple of pages for play. 

The Nepalese paper we bought is called Lokta Paper and is made from the dense fibrous bark of the Nepalese paper plant or Lokta bush. The Lokta Bush regenerates every 4 to 6 years after being harvested and cut about 6 inches from the ground. This tree free paper provides a viable revenue stream for nepalese artisans in urban and rural areas.

The Lokta plants fibres are long and supple and result in a soft paper which takes colouring and decoration beautifully and has a beautiful deckled edge when torn.

For our bookbinding applications we primarily used the lokta paper as endpapers in books and I found that it works best if backed with 125 gsm acid free cartridge paper. To mount the lokta paper we use an archival grade flexible PVA adhesive. 

I decided to try the lokta paper as a book covering materials for some tape bound hand sewn journals that I had designed as I wanted them to have an elegant, handmade feel about them. I knew that the raw lokta paper was not going to be strong enough to withstand  repeated handling so I knew I needed to come up with a simple organic finish to protect and enhance these beautiful papers.

I drew on my woodworking and object conservation experience and decided that as the lokta paper was an organic material, lacquers and varnishes were not going to cut it so I settled on an organic wax from an Australian manufacturer to protect the papers. 

When I worked as a furniture maker I used to make a wax based on a combination of beeswax and canuba wax on the furniture I made, then I discovered Cabinet Makers Wax made by Gilly Stephenson in Western Australia. 

I quickly decided that my limited workshop time was better spent making furniture rather than making wax so I decided to run with the Gilly Stephenson product.

This wax gives a beautiful lustrous and soft finish and durable finish on timber and It can be buffed to a high shine so I felt the chance it would work on fibrous papers would be very good.

  I knew that I needed to to some tests to check how well the wax would work so I backed some samples of lokta paper on to 125 gsm acid free cartridge paper using an archival flexible PVA adhesive then when dry, mounted the samples to pre sanded 9mm plywood blocks.

 I backed the lokta paper on to cartridge paper to give it more strength to withstand the buffing during the waxing process and to limit the translucency of light coloured lokta paper when being placed on a darker substrate.

The top photo shows the lokta paper prior to waxing and the bottom photos show the paper after two coats of wax have been applied. 

The cabinet makers wax is a combination of beeswax and canuba wax in a gum turpentine base.

Beeswax on its own is never fully dries and can become highly tacky in hot climates.

Canuba wax on its own is extremely hard to use in its natural state

Combining the two in a gum turps base gives you a building wax which dries to a durable finish which can be buffed to a high shine and with repeated applications builds a flat surface which enhances the natural texture of the surface its been applied to.

I waxed the samples applying two coats of cabinet makers wax over a 24 hour period and was absolutely stoked with the results.

The natural texture and colour of the paper was enhanced by the finish and the samples had a beautiful feel in hand.

Project Blue Book

Project Blue Book

The book in the photo shown above is a A5 tape bound hand sewn journal. It features a waxed indigo blue lokta paper cover.

We’ll use this book as an example of the waxing process. 

We’ve put together a paper waxing kit which is available from our Etsy store 

The waxing kit contains a can of the Gilly Stephensons Cabinet Makers Wax as well as 2 150mm polishing pads and a buffing brush 

The Waxing Kit

To begin the process you’ll need a piece of cotton cloth to apply the wax to your piece. I use a piece of old cotton beset cut into a piece about 8 inches square.  Fold the cloth the gather a small amount of wax to the paper on your workpiece.  If you’re finishing a book cover with a book cloth spine as in the example shown here, you may wish to mask the spine to avoid getting the wax on the book cloth. 

Watch the video here for the first step of the process.

Keep applying small amounts of wax to the paper until the surface is covered with a thin coat t of wax.  Always remember, it’s better to apply a couple of thin coats rather than one thick coat.  This is one of those instances where less is more… 

When you’ve applied a thin coat to the paper let it cure for two to four hours, then use one of the white polishing pads to rub back the excess wax from the surface of the paper. Use light stroke with not too much pressure to bring the surface up.  As you progress you should begin to see the surface develop. Apply a second coat of wax to the surface then leave it it for around six hours . 

When the wax has cured buff the surface lightly with the white pad, then switch to the buffing brush and using gentle but rapid strokes, buff the covers of the book

Watch the third video here fore more details on the technique: 

That should about cover it.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about the content shown here. 

Tutorwood Books is Here!!!!

Tutorwood books is a small-business I run with my daughter Emily.. We make and sell beautiful notebooks, journals, and sketchbooks for artists.

Text Blocks to suit our popular side and top fold notebooks

Why, you may ask?

I’ve written extensively over the last few years, both for work and for blog sites such as this one. Whilst I do use computers daily I have always put my ideas and inspirations down on paper first prior to committing them to digital media. I think there’s nothing better to stimulate the creative juices than the feeling of a pen gliding over paper.

I’ll be updating the site site on a regular basis and posting images of new products, ideas, prototypes and general stuff.

Please visit our Tutorwood Books site on Etsy and be sure to follow us on Instagram

The New Festool Cordless Vecturo OSC 18

Well, it looks as there’s another new tool entering the oscillating tool market in Australia with Festool announcing the release of their new cordless Vecturo, the OSC 18.


Due for release in the UK in April 2019, when it hits the Australian market I would anticipate the price to be in the vicinity of $1200 to AUD 1300, for the set version. The set version for release in the UK comes with a dust extraction device, positioning aid, depth stop, adapter, 3 blades, a single 3.1ah battery, and TCL6 charger, all packed in a sys 2 t lock systainer.

The battery interface appears to suit the standard 18v platform so if you have more batteries with a higher amperage you should be set as I don’t feel you’ll get sufficient run time from a 3.1ah battery to suit most applications.

Whether Festool Australia keeps this configuration or changes, it is anyone’s guess. From the video and available images, it appears to be compatible with the Fein star lock blades though I am concerned that on the marketing information it states that it has a star lock plus tool holder. I’m hoping that this is a Festool version of the Fein Multimaster blade because if it’s different, it means you’ll be looking at a whole new blade system. I’d also hope that Festool has included an adapter so that customers who purchased the corded Vecturo can use their existing blade stock, (which is the old style supercut blade) with this tool



 Starlock Plus Blade


To watch a video on the OSC18 in action please click here:

Watch this space for more updates on configuration and release dates.

As always, your comments and questions are appreciated


Five minutes with Festool

Five minutes with Festool is the title of a new series of articles I’m working on which will give you an in depth view of a wide variety of Festool tools and accessories tied up in a bite sized package. With each article being about 500 words they’re intended to be a quick and informative read.

Being the lead salesperson in one of the busiest dealers in Melbourne I field a lot of questions about the whole range Festool products and this article, which covers the range of blades available for the Festool TS55 , will hopefully address some of the questions you may have about them

Please click on the link below to read the full article.

Festool Blades 

 As always your questions and comments are appreciated and I’ll endeavour to answer as many as I can. 

See you next week for the next instalment.









I’m back in the saddle…..

Well, I’ll admit that it’s been a long time between posts and a hell of a lot had gone on in the last few years. The most significant change, which has shocked most of you who know me personally, is the fact that I’ve gone from a weight of 178 kg down to a meagre 74kg. I had some quite severe medical problems which resulted in 7 hours of surgery and me losing 75% of my stomach.

That was back in Dec 2016, and while the body healed a while ago, it’s been a challenging 18 months dealing with all the changes to my body and working on getting my head in the right place so that I can focus on writing again. A big thanks to those of you whose words of support have helped me move forward and I must admit that It would have been a damn sight harder to get through this without the love and support of my wife Sharon and children.  Love you all guys.



It’s Back!!!

After an absence of nearly two years the Festool SSU 200 is back on the shelf. With 200 mm depth of cut and running on a standard Festool rail this bad boy is the ideal problem solver for lvl's, timber slabs or sleepers.

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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