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Soft Beeswax for Hand Plane Lube?

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Blog entry by Tom posted 02-20-2021 02:55 PM 338 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I recently started a new project to make a dovetailed credenza cabinet for my home office. When flattening glued up panels, it is a nice benefit to keep the sole of the plane lubricated. Even the scraper plane works better with a bit of lubricant on the sole.

I have tried several options for plane lubrication over the last several years. I used to rub on beeswax, which helps a little, but is not particularly slippery or convenient to use. In recent times, I use the Paul Sellers “rag in a can” with 3 in 1 oil. This actually works pretty well, but it does not last very long, especially when planing wide boards. So you have to reapply many times. It is also useful to protect tools from rusting and I often wrap up my day in the shop by wiping down my tools and chisels with the rag in a can before they go back in the tool cabinet.

I also have paraffin around for lubricating screw threads and I sometimes rub the sole on a plane. I don’t think is is terribly slippery though. By far, the best lubricant I have used is furniture wax from Minwax. It is easy to apply, protects against rusting, adds a slippery film and lasts a pretty long time. The downside is that it has solvents that are not particularly good to breathe.

I decided to try making a soft, food grade beeswax/mineral oil blend to be used for cutting boards, wood spoons, drawer glides and maybe as a plane lubricant. I grated 1 ounce by weight of beeswax and combined with 4 ounces of food grade mineral oil from the pharmacy. I decided to use my Revere Ware double boiler since the ingredients are non-toxic. (Have I mentioned that I also like to cook and that I adore my Revere Ware pots? They are the best)

Anyway, the ingredients went into the double boiler and the beeswax melted easily into the mineral oil. Then I just poured it into a jelly jar to solidify. It has a nice consistency similar to butter from the refrigerator. FYI, cleaning up the pots is facilitated by pouring the boiling hot water over the grater and pot/utensils. But be really CAREFUL to not burn yourself!

The mixture seems to be very stable at room temperature. The oil has not separated. It works great on the cutting board. I applied a light coating to my jack plane and it definitely adds some lubricity, but nothing to write home about (or in a blog?). I’ll try it for a while and see if it is useful in the shop. I am happy to hear about any suggestions for improvement.

In the meantime, my wife has a lifetime supply of lip balm and cuticle softener. :)

-- Tom



2 comments so far

View theoldfart's profile

theoldfart

12457 posts in 3461 days


#1 posted 02-20-2021 04:14 PM

Tom, peruse the Lost Art Press blog. Chris Schwarz makes a similar mixture and his daughter sells it on Etsy.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View Tom's profile

Tom

178 posts in 902 days


#2 posted 02-20-2021 07:59 PM

Thanks TOF. I have seen that formula before at Lost Art Press, but it is not really food grade with the turpentine and linseed oil. I am thinking about making a version with a lower viscosity mineral oil. I might try cutting board oil which seems to be lighter than the pharmacy mineral oil.

-- Tom

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