Shop Maintenance: Wax Everything

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Forum topic by thetinman posted 04-21-2014 12:59 PM 1949 views 1 time favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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294 posts in 2513 days

04-21-2014 12:59 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tool maintenence wax tool protection oiling tools waxing tools maintenence shop mantenance

I bought a new Delta saw about a month ago and wrote a review. A new woodworker had just bought the same saw, his first tablesaw. After he had completed the assembly he asked me (in the review comments) if he should wax the painted side extension tables as well as the cast iron. I answered yes then but it got me thinking and looking around my shop at everything I waxed. I was actually rather surprised at how many things I had added over the years as part of my “maintenance day” activities. I’ve always used the Johnson’s paste floor wax. It is super hard and designed for abuse. I put it on as a light film, let it haze and then buff it out. I’ve never experienced a transfer to the wood to affect the finish. I know that some swear by paste car wax and others use wax designed for woodworking.

My general thought process is to wax anything where I want protection and slip not grip. And I pay particular attention to things I can’t oil because of sawdust. Here are some of the many things that I keep waxed as a matter of routine.

I wax the entire tablesaw – the table, the fence guides, the fence and the cabinet. In addition to protecting the cast iron and finish, the fence glides super easily making those fine adjustments easier without the friction. The powder paint used on the cabinet seems to be a sawdust magnet and dust sticks to even the vertical surfaces. The wax lets the dust just fall off rather than sticking.

I use this same thinking on the miter saw, scroll saw, drill press, etc.

In addition I wax things that slide and can’t be oiled like the slide rods on the miter saw, the quill on the drill press and the slide rods on the plunge router.

I clean and wax the base plates on all my hand-held power tools especially because I use them for things other than just woodworking. For example, as a Harry Homeowner, I used my circle saw to cut a portion of concrete sidewalk that had raised up. This scored/scratched the aluminum base plate. I filed and sanded it smooth at the end on the day but forgot to wax it. A few days later I used it in the shop and the aluminum plate left black streaks on the wood (like an aluminum shower rod). Wax prevents this. BTW I hate this saw. I was working in the driveway a couple of months ago and left my tools lying there. Wifey ran over the circle saw hence the less expensive replacement. But it works.

I wax hand tools such as chisels, squares and tool guides. Aside from protection I find that any glue I get on them using them for assembly, like squares, just pops right off. I wax my workbench for the same reason – glue and stains come right off.

I was wondering what thoughts others had about using wax in their maintenance routine.

-- Life is what happens to you while you are planning better things -Mark Twain

17 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5331 posts in 4936 days

#1 posted 04-21-2014 02:29 PM

The Johnson’s is a shop essential here. Maybe not to the extent that you carry it, but usually once a month I give the place a good dose. Sure helps.

-- [email protected]

View camps764's profile


867 posts in 3335 days

#2 posted 04-21-2014 03:03 PM

i like Johnson’s too. I actually need to get better about making it part of my process.

-- Steve

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 3660 days

#3 posted 04-21-2014 03:22 PM

In addition to protection, a slick surface makes so many jobs easier. I really notice on the jointer, router bases and the dovetail jig.

View a1Jim's profile


118155 posts in 4552 days

#4 posted 04-21-2014 03:33 PM

Wax is a great protection for bare metal and things that slide ,personally I don’t feel the need to wax painted surfaces but it won’t hurt a thing if you do wax painted surfaces. The one thing I caution my students about is to make sure the wax they use does not have silicone in it,silicone can totally mess up all of your finishing and can be impossible to get out of your shop once it has be contaminated with silicone.


View Earlextech's profile


1163 posts in 3666 days

#5 posted 04-21-2014 05:08 PM

Johnson’s for the same reason for almost thirty years!

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View bowedcurly's profile


519 posts in 2704 days

#6 posted 04-21-2014 05:57 PM

Shellac for me, one time deal.

-- Staining killed the wood<<<<<>>>>>Dyeing gave it life

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 3660 days

#7 posted 04-21-2014 09:00 PM

a1Jim…I agree on the silicone. That’s why I use Johnson’s. Applied and buffed out, I’ve never seen residue on the wood. Kinda related…I was doing a lot of work on my older Leigh D4 dovetail jig a few months ago using my old PC 690. I was getting some “binding” on the cuts that ruined the joints. The “finger” feel said everything was fine but out of frustration I decided to wax the base on the router and the fingers on the jig. I can only say that my fingers are no substitute for a properly waxed surface. Same for the jointer by the way. Everything might feel smooth to the touch but it isn’t.

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 4207 days

#8 posted 04-21-2014 09:09 PM

I have been cleaning / de-rusting cast iron in my shop for the last say 2 months I think, due to neglect (my fault, too much to do to get the shop in working order again I failed to keep up with waxing etc…).

When I am not being an idiot, I use Johnsons Paste wax on my cast iron. Apply a coat once a quarter and it keeps the iron in top shape… More often if I am doing a LOT of cutting operations…

For those of us that have aluminum topped woodworking tools like my Ryobi table saw, not too much is said about keeping those surfaces slick, since rust isn’t a huge concern, however I have noted that over time, the surface isn’t quite as easy to slide wood over. I give my saw a periodic rub down with a bees wax stick as well as the fence faces. So far it has been very effective.

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View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 4207 days

#9 posted 04-21-2014 09:10 PM

For you guys that are waxing your dovetail jigs, how are you going about that?

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View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 3660 days

#10 posted 04-21-2014 11:13 PM

dbhost…on the leigh, I removed the finger assembly with those 2 little knobs (no change to the layout and the jig requires removal of the finger assembly between cutting pins and tails anyway so no big deal) and took it to the bench. The primary drag was on the tops and bottoms of the fingers but I worked some into the fingers as well. Then I hit the bottoms of the router bases and the guide bushings too. Gave it a 15 minutes or so then wiped off whatever remained. Then I repeated the process. I was so frustrated that it didn’t bother me to let it sit overnight and do a final buffing the next morning. I can only describe the difference as being dragged on your butt on a silk smooth ice rink vs. a gravel road. As noted previously, I see the same effect on the jointer (table and fence). Not so much on the table saw or planer.

View Ted's profile


2877 posts in 3186 days

#11 posted 04-22-2014 12:14 AM

Aluminum surfaces may not rust but they do oxidize, you just can’t see it because the oxidation is not brown.

I use Min-Wax paste wax. I never thought to use floor wax but it appears maybe I should.

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

View bowedcurly's profile


519 posts in 2704 days

#12 posted 04-22-2014 10:27 AM

I use shellac on my jointer, TS, planer, last year have not had no rust for 1 year, used wax got a lot of rust my shop is outside with no controlled climate, been fighting rust for years until I used shellac, spray it on scrap it off, then sand no more rust. Works for me hope I got all my dots and T’s crossed for the grammer patrol…........................<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< Shellac is a form of wax but it seems to penetrate deep and seal well I like it very much, try it on one side of something and see how it goes you might be surprised

-- Staining killed the wood<<<<<>>>>>Dyeing gave it life

View thetinman's profile


294 posts in 2513 days

#13 posted 04-22-2014 11:05 AM

Bowedcurly…….Shellac does naturally contain wax (3-5%) and can be purchased “dewaxed” if you plan on painting later. Like you, I have used it for rust prevention also and it works very well like you said. I think it’s sealing properties comes more from being a natural poly finish rather than the wax though. But, shellac still does not give the slippery surface that wax gives. Try waxing over the shellac. You might have the best of both worlds for your shop setting.

-- Life is what happens to you while you are planning better things -Mark Twain

View bigblockyeti's profile


6970 posts in 2696 days

#14 posted 04-22-2014 12:30 PM

I use Bostik TopCote, two coats on all cast iron surfaces every month or two. The stuff is expensive and I got two cases at an auction. When I run out, I’m not buying it again, at least not at retail price! Probably use paste wax much the same as many other posts have mentioned.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

3639 posts in 4413 days

#15 posted 04-22-2014 12:36 PM

I use Johnson’s paste wax on all my exposed cast surfaces. On my old Delta/Rockwell table saw a board seems like it’s on an air hockey table when I’m done. And it’s a MUST on the planer.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

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