Waxing and rewaxing power tool tables

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Forum topic by Elizabeth posted 12-28-2011 06:13 PM 10995 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Elizabeth's profile


823 posts in 4481 days

12-28-2011 06:13 PM

Got a quick question this morning.

Last year when I got my tools with large metal surfaces (table saw, jointer, planer, bandsaw) I cleaned them off with WD40 and applied a coating of paste wax.

I’d like to reapply some now, particularly to the jointer as I have noticed a bit of discolouration on one end of the table where you hold it when moving it around on its mobile base. There’s no similar discolouration on the table saw, planer or bandsaw, none of which are touched on the table when moving them.

My question(s) – do I need to remove the old wax prior to applying new, in most cases? If not in most cases, should I do so in the case of the jointer with the slight discolouration? (I don’t know if it’s rust starting or just from greasy/dirty hands. I suspect and hope the latter.) If I should remove the old wax first, what’s the best way of doing that?

26 replies so far

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 4406 days

#1 posted 12-28-2011 06:22 PM

I clean my tables with glass cleaner or Simple Green, then put on some paste wax. I usually need to do this a couple of times a year.

I don’t worry about minor discolorations, but get after rust pretty quickly.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View TheDane's profile


6029 posts in 5000 days

#2 posted 12-28-2011 06:27 PM

Elizabeth—About twice a year, I scrub the cast iron surfaces with WD-40 and steel wool, wipe them down good, then apply a couple of coats of Johnson’s paste wax.

If I know I’m not going to be using a tool for a while (e.g. tablesaw gets minimal use in winter months), I give the exposed metal surfaces a quick coat of wax, buff, and keep the machine covered.


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Bertha's profile


13624 posts in 4030 days

#3 posted 12-28-2011 06:42 PM

My jointer bed is stained with who knows what. I’ve gone after it with everything in the arsenal; I must be missing something. On my TS, I’ll spritz the surface with a foamy lubricant like the PB blaster oil (not penetrator!). It’s $5-8 at the automotive store. Like Gerry, I’ll go after it “with the grain (?)” with 0000 Steel Wool. Then a coat of clear BriWax. I’m told I shouldn’t use that type of wax but it seems to work for me. Good luck!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View willie's profile


534 posts in 3791 days

#4 posted 12-28-2011 06:53 PM

I usually put a coat of Johnson’s paste wax on my tool’s cast iron parts 2-3 times a year unless I see that it’s needed more often. I have never removed previous coats. They seem to get worn off with use so I have not noticed any buildup. Most of my tools are older and all have some discoloration, as long as it’s not rust and doesn’t affect the smoothness of the tops I don’t worry about it.

-- Every day above ground is a good day!!!

View Jeff's profile


558 posts in 4532 days

#5 posted 12-28-2011 07:19 PM

My son threw a can of almost empty Coke at a garbage can just beyond my jointer and splashed some of the Coke onto the metal surface. Doesn’t matter what I do now the stains won’t come off. This is after I’d recently wiped on some Johnson’s paste wax. Lesson learned is that while Johnson’s is good practice, and seems to keep the humidity from rusting my tools, it doesn’t protect from everything. I still use it about three of four times a year, and no I don’t strip between coats, too much work. But I do wipe up all spills right away and try not to store anything on my jointer or table saw.

View ellen35's profile


2750 posts in 4770 days

#6 posted 12-28-2011 08:13 PM

I wax my planer and table saw as necessary. If I notice the least bit of resistance, out comes the Butcher’s Wax…then I wax it again in a week or so… And again and again. It just makes things move more smoothly. I never remove old wax, I think the wood does that for me!

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Dan's profile


3653 posts in 4218 days

#7 posted 12-28-2011 09:32 PM

I use paste wax on my metal tools very often. I apply wax on my TS and Jointer tables at least a couple times a month. I wax my hand tools sometimes more often then that. Like someone said earlier, just keep it quick and simple. Apply the wax, let it sit, then do a quick hand buff and your done.

I have also been using beeswax recently on my ts and jointer tables. I have noticed that helps a lot when jointing wood.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Elizabeth's profile


823 posts in 4481 days

#8 posted 12-28-2011 09:42 PM

Thanks guys, all great advice. I think I know what I’ll be doing this weekend!

Does a regular cloth work fine for application or do I need to get something specially lint-free? When I got my wax last year I picked up a couple of automobile wax-application pads, but it seems impossible to clean those things and I don’t want to be buying them every time. I do have a big box of clean “shop rags” which seem reasonably lint free.

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 5465 days

#9 posted 12-28-2011 09:50 PM

I use mostly Japanese wooden planes and follow the tradition applying a little oil (I use kataneabura) on the plans soles. With metal-bodied Western planes, I use a little paraffin on the soles.

No problems in 40+ years of woodworking.

Bro. Tenzin, OFI

-- 温故知新

View Bertha's profile


13624 posts in 4030 days

#10 posted 12-28-2011 10:03 PM

^I use parafiin, Niwa, on metal bodied planes, too. It’s one of the few things for the shop that I can throw into the grocery cart unnoticed, lol;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View ellen35's profile


2750 posts in 4770 days

#11 posted 12-28-2011 10:08 PM

Elizabeth… an old tee shirt works just fine. i leave mine in the wax can and use it over and over. I buff with whatever is closest.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Logan Windram's profile

Logan Windram

347 posts in 3799 days

#12 posted 12-28-2011 10:18 PM

Nothing really rusts in Colorado, so I dont worry about that much. I do wax the Jointer quite often…. I keep the wax right under the machine, and I think it keep the bed from getting slow, sticky and discolored…

Plus my Jointer loves when I make her all pretty!

Wait- does anyone else name theie machinery?

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 4027 days

#13 posted 12-29-2011 05:31 AM

I like to apply paste wax to my cast iron using a grey Scotch pad. It holds wax well and smooths/cleans as you apply wax. I never buff my tool tops after applying wax. I wax my workbench and router table the same way without buffing.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View a1Jim's profile


118309 posts in 4914 days

#14 posted 12-29-2011 06:06 AM

I use automotive rubbing compound to clean my metal surfaces. I us a random orbital sander with a scotchbrite under it with the rubbing compound. this cleans up even heavy rust or stains. I then use a pad of old T shirt under the ROS to take the excess compound off. after that I use another piece of t shirt to apply the wax again with the ROS. A word of caution ,make sure the wax you use does not have silicone in it,it can contaminate your whole shop that will mess up just about any finish you want to apply.


View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 3692 days

#15 posted 12-29-2011 06:21 AM

I use Slip-it on the big cast iron table tops. It seems to hold up longer in my setting, and leave less wax residue that in turn I have to deal with later.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

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