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Thread: Plane wax... with a twist

  1. #1
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    Plane wax... with a twist

    Hi folks, normally I post questions, but today I want to share a useful tip I came up with (I'm not saying no one though of it before me, just that I had the idea on my own).

    It started with my buying and disliking beeswax - for me it wasn't soft enough, and would smear well on the sole. I tried Jojoba oil which worked well for 5 seconds. frustrated I looked online and saw a video from WoodByWright on Youtube who suggested a mixture of 2:1 beeswax to BLO. I didn't have any oat hand but I did have Jojoba.

    The "twist was that I am not a fan keeping a greasy chunk of wax in my pocket or in an opened container where it can get dirty. I looked for and eventually found empty twist deodorant bottles for sale - they come with a cap

    here is the result:

    WhatsApp Image 2022-01-09 at 13.04.01.jpgWhatsApp Image 2022-01-09 at 13.03.54.jpg

    I can now carry it in my pocket, mess free, and only the part used is exposed to dirt. Very pleased. the diameter comes to 1-1/2" so it is a decent size for plane soles (when I started looking I considered lipstick containers).

    So in case anyone finds this useful here are some tips: The container is for 2 oz., I mixed up 2 oz. jojoba oil and 4 oz. beeswax, and melted it in a small pot. I suggest you keep an eye on the pot, once it melts and is stirred let it cool to around 75C (167F). Beeswax melts at 65C (150F). Plastics have a varying melting point. on my first try I did an amazing job at melting the mechanism and creating a mess on the counter. on my second attempt I prepared a bowl of ice water, and let the wax cool on the stove (while mixing) until I was under 90C (194F)
    I pored a little bit of the wax into the container and plunged its outside into the cold water. this let the wax harden and create a better seal against leaking. after that I filled it up with the rest of the wax and let it cool until hardened.

    Works great! the downside to this was I tried using the wax on my No.8 and it flew so fast I lost balance and dropped it. had to file down a corner to get the sole flat again

    Cheers!
    Assaf

  2. #2
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    This is an awesome thing Assaf.

    Beeswax should ordinarily be melted in a double boiler. Flash point for beeswax, where it spontaneously bursts into flames in the presence of oxygen, is only 400dF (about 204 C). With a double boiler the risk of the beeswax just catching on fire all alone with no spark is dramatically reduced, reaching 400F/204C is fairly easy with direct heat on the top of a cook stove. I flashed canola oil once when I heated a Dutch oven above 700F on a camp fire, that was an exciting evening.

    I will save my next empty deodorant container and give this a try. This might work well on the plates of handsaws as well as plane bodies.

    Thanks

  3. #3
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    Clever idea. Who knows, it could inspire a Veritas version? The plastic disposable model, and the premium, refillable, stainless steel version with a walnut or flaming maple skin.

  4. #4
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    Clever, but that seems like a lot of work. For me, beeswax is way too soft and sticky. I've been using household paraffin for years. A one pound box will last you forever. There are multiple slabs in the box. It's not greasy at all and doesn't attract dirt. Just rub a few swirls on the plane bottom and it makes it very slick. It's effective for a long time too. I'm not sure if this brand is available in Israel but I'm sure you have something similar.

    5171Ek4rfLL._AC_SS450_.jpg
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  5. #5
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    I have never waxed the bottom of a plane, other than maybe to try it once, but I really can't remember doing that. If you're pushing down on the plane hard enough for it to matter, you're using force you don't need to.

  6. #6
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    Really? It is a noticeable difference. Especially if you're taking off a good chunk of thickness.
    ~mike

    life in a mud hut

  7. #7
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    Very well thought out Assaf. I have tried most everything mentioned in this thread and concluded that canning wax (exactly as shown in Rob's post) is the best (for me). Bee's wax in solid form is really sticky, and good for helping drive screws into hard wood. I found it to be not as good for making planes glide on wood. in fact, I have the same beeswax sticks in my shop, literally gathering dust for years, which they do, easily.

  8. #8
    I agree with Tom. I used wax for a little while when starting out, but then I read that oil was nicer for an iron plane. I usually don't use anything, but occasionally use a drop of oil for some woods.

    When I bought a nice beech trying plane 43 years ago the previous owner told me to use wax and it would go "Whoooosh". I planed the bottom with a smoothing plane and have used it on every board since, but no wax or oil or grease.

  9. #9
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    This is one of my many planes. It is a wooden one, but the wear on it is from sweat, and use. It never had wax on the sole. You might notice that most of the wear is from shavings going up in front of the iron.

    I had a friend watching me plane some boards once, using no. 6's if I'm remembering correctly. He asked why I didn't pick it up when I pulled it back. I told him I did. He said it didn't look like it. I asked him to listen for any dragging sound when I pulled it back. He said there was none. Efficiency is not doing any more than you need to.

    The force using a plane only needs to be almost all forward. That "almost all" is hard to describe with words. None is needed down. If you notice a difference, you are pushing down too hard.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Tom M King; 01-09-2022 at 11:35 AM.

  10. #10
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    Wooden planes need no wax, that I agree with. I'm talking about iron fore and trying planes. I don't bother with smoothers much either, unless it's a big piece. With that said, taking an eighth of thickness on multiple 2'x3' boards, with a no5, waxing the bed is noticeably easier.

    Edit: all of this is why I haven't bought an iron plane since the first wooden one, but most of the iron ones I use now were my grandfathers or my great uncles. So there's some sentiment.
    Last edited by mike stenson; 01-09-2022 at 11:39 AM.
    ~mike

    life in a mud hut

  11. #11
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    Here's a video of me using no. 6's to flatten a panel. These have never had wax on the sole. If it mattered, I'd wax them. There were 32 of these for exterior shutters. They didn't need to be as flat as for a table top, but this was plenty good enough for what they were for. Plane track surface texture was to match other original work in this 1850 house. None of these planes have ever had their soles waxed.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SED7B65cppM
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Tom M King; 01-09-2022 at 11:45 AM.

  12. #12
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    This sounds like a job for someone with a fishing type pull scale.

    Try a few passes without wax pulling a plane using the scale and a cord.

    Then wax the sole and again try a few passes in the same manner without changing anything else.

    Not sure if Candy has a fish scale in her tackle box.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  13. #13
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    Well Jim, to be honest I don't care how hard others choose to work. Or how they choose to work in general. The coefficient of friction exists, none of us can deny that. I'm also not thicknessing with a machine most of the time.
    ~mike

    life in a mud hut

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike stenson View Post
    Well Jim, to be honest I don't care how hard others choose to work. Or how they choose to work in general. The coefficient of friction exists, none of us can deny that. I'm also not thicknessing with a machine most of the time.
    Please don't get me wrong Mike. My planes & saws get waxed more often than me.

    Simple logic tells us a lubricated plane will pass over a surface with less resistance than an unlubricated plane.

    The scale challenge would prove the point.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  15. #15
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    The pull test is not a valid one. That puts the weight of the plane on the board. The weight of the plane is in my hands. It barely kisses the board.

    I'm not suggesting that everyone not wax a plane. I'm just saying it's not worth the time to me, and it should not be considered a necessity.

    edited to add: Using taking the hump off of those panels as an example. Since you only want to take the hump off, you don't want the iron touching the sides that you want to leave, so pushing down on the plane would make it a lot more complicated. The iron is in the wood only where you want it to be.
    Last edited by Tom M King; 01-09-2022 at 1:05 PM.

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