Paste wax application to cast iron saw table

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Forum topic by SeanL posted 10-20-2016 07:43 AM 6080 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View SeanL's profile


8 posts in 1067 days

10-20-2016 07:43 AM

Can anyone advise on the proper application of paste wax to a cast iron table saw ? Does it need to be applied light/heavy and wiped off completely? Does some residue need to be left behind? I’m using Johnson’s paste wax. Any direction is most appreciated.

27 replies so far

View jerryminer's profile


960 posts in 1924 days

#1 posted 10-20-2016 08:13 AM

The way I do it is use a piece of an old T shirt, place a small lump of wax (like a tablespoonful) inside the rag, wrapping the cloth around the lump of wax, and wipe a thin layer onto the table surface, allowing the wax to ooze through the cloth.

Then wait a few seconds for the solvents in the wax to “flash off” and buff with a clean cloth. There should be no residue left behind, just a shiny, slippery table surface.

You can open up the rag after application and scrape the remaining wax back into the can before it dries out and gets hard.

Been doing it this way for decades. Works great for me. HTH.

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View SeanL's profile


8 posts in 1067 days

#2 posted 10-20-2016 10:00 AM

OK. Thanks much. That is very helpful. I had managed to get the light rust off fairly well. However I don’t think I have “buffed” the wax enough to remove it completely. I’ll give it another go. Thanks again for the help.

View RandyinFlorida's profile


257 posts in 2550 days

#3 posted 10-20-2016 10:43 AM

think about this for a moment. If you should leave excess wax on the saw and it transfers to the wood then when applying a finish to the wood the residual wax will prevent the stain, varnish, BLO, or what have you; from soaking into the wood. So it is important to remove all excess wax.

-- Randy in Crestview Florida, Wood Rocks!

View SeanL's profile


8 posts in 1067 days

#4 posted 10-20-2016 10:53 AM

Certainly makes sense. I guess I had it in my feeble brain that in order to “seal” the surface and prevent rust, a this layer was necessary. Alas, I’m concerning myself about the wrong issue. I need to stop worrying about rust and start cutting wood.

View mike02130's profile


170 posts in 1155 days

#5 posted 10-20-2016 11:34 AM

Spray on some Pledge.

-- Google first, search forums second, ask questions later.

View Kazooman's profile


1347 posts in 2435 days

#6 posted 10-20-2016 01:15 PM

Spray on some Pledge.

- mike02130

A quick search for the Pledge msds shows that it contains dimethicone disolved in a solvent. Silicones are notorious for causing problems like fisheye with finishes. I would stick with the Johnson’s or use a product like Boeshield.

By the way, you needn’t get so fancy with the application method. Wipe a rag on the wax in the can, wipe a thin layer on the table saw, and wipe off the excess. Store the applicator rag in the can.

View splintergroup's profile


2828 posts in 1705 days

#7 posted 10-20-2016 01:47 PM

I’m with Kazoo,

Before applying I’ll go over the top and remove any glue drips, etc, then wipe it down with mineral spirits (which removes any wax).
I just apply the wax with a soft cloth, working in small areas, usually the cast iron table top sections. I then buff it off/out with a clean rag.

I’m not too anal about buffing out, I just want the surface to be smooth and slick.
You can get wax transferred to your project, but it removes so easily and even the solvent in finishes will nullify it (I’ve tested this).

It is silicons in wax that can cause finishing grief, but even those are hard to transfer in enough quantity to cause problems.

View TheFridge's profile


10859 posts in 1968 days

#8 posted 10-20-2016 04:34 PM

Cast iron is porous. It takes a couple go rounds to get it worked into the pores. Once that happens it’s just a coat a few times a year. Unless it’s slathered on, I wouldn’t worry. I’ve never had problems. I would consider it rare to go straight from the saw to finishing without any planing or sanding.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View HokieKen's profile


10755 posts in 1621 days

#9 posted 10-20-2016 04:41 PM

I apply Johnson’s paste wax with a very fine steel wool in a thin coat then wait for it to haze over. Then I buff it out with a sock or an old tee-shirt. Why do I apply it with steel wool? I have no idea :-) I think I did it initially to work it into the pores on my TS and then just left a piece in the wax can. Ever since then, I just continue to do it that way.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View DirtyMike's profile


637 posts in 1384 days

#10 posted 10-20-2016 04:50 PM

I have had to remove rust on the last two saws i have bought, it seems like it takes several waxings to get it the cast iron top where you want it. I use johnsons and a painters rag and it cleans rather well.

View martyoc's profile


44 posts in 1399 days

#11 posted 10-20-2016 05:05 PM

I use paste wax on all my cast iron tops; just wipe it on, let dry a minute or so, and wipe off the excess. It makes it a bit easier to maneuver to wood on the tops, in particular on the band saw when I’m cutting mild curves. I only need to do a few times a year and when I do one I do them all since it is a fast process.

-- Marty O'C

View muleskinner's profile


935 posts in 2919 days

#12 posted 10-20-2016 05:20 PM

It’s just like Mr. Miyagi says, “Wipe on. Wipe off”

-- Visualize whirled peas

View oldnovice's profile


7498 posts in 3850 days

#13 posted 10-20-2016 05:34 PM

Ditto muleskinner!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View MrUnix's profile


7469 posts in 2681 days

#14 posted 10-20-2016 05:37 PM

I usually just slap on a thick coat at the end of the day, cover the machine and walk away. Doesn’t matter what machine… TS, jointer, planer, scroll saw, lathe, band saw, whatever. I may buff before using it again, but not always – the fear of wax transfer is pretty much non-existent and any remaining will be gone after the first pass or two anyway. And as mentioned, it does take a few initial coats to get the CI conditioned properly, and after that, a little goes a long way.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View TheFridge's profile


10859 posts in 1968 days

#15 posted 10-20-2016 07:25 PM

It took half a dozen coats or more over a period of a couple weeks. I keep a rag in the can. I’ll wipe a coat on after running a bunch of wet or rough cut wood on it. That’s about it. It’s almost a non issue nowadays. I also use it on my chisels, planes, and anything else that needs protection. In south Louisiana.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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