For centuries wax has been utilized by knowledgeable craftsmen around the world as both a final finish and as a polish/protectant over other finishes. Until fairly recent Beeswax was the only type of wax available but now it has been joined by a large number of natural and synthetic products. Manufacturers formulate proprietary blends of these raw materials to take advantage of distinct individual characteristics like hardness, color, gloss and melting point. It is these individual characteristics that determine the wax's final appearance and durability.
Most commercial paste waxes are composed of a blend of beeswax, paraffin (a petroleum product) and carnuba wax, which is scraped and collected from the leaves of Brazilian palm trees. When mixed with an appropriate solvent such as turpentine, naptha or mineral spirits these homogenized wax blends and proprietary ingredients become soft enough to apply. Depending on its formulation, paste wax provides an attractive final finish and protectant and is appropriate for most wood, metal, fiberglass, marble and painted surfaces.
Wax On - Wax Off
The application of paste wax to most surfaces is a relatively simple task and is truly a case where less is more. Wax applied in thin layers dries more quickly and thoroughly between coats, which in turn makes buffing off the dried excess much easier.
Many variables affect a paste wax's drying time including but no limited to the composition of the mixture itself, type of solvent used, ambient temperature and humidity and of course, the thickness of each application.
Be certain the surface to be waxed is clean and free of dirt, grease or other contaminants.
For an average project start with a lump of wax about the size of a golf ball. Place it in the center of a soft cotton cloth (old T-shirts are ideal) about 6 inches square. Wrap the wax up tightly in the cloth.
Using light pressure rub the surface until wax begins to seep through the cloth. Wax application by this method helps control the amount of material deposited. Many people prefer to apply the wax in a circular motion although any direction is permissible. Try to lay a thin even coat over the entire surface.
When the wax's sheen has changed from glossy to dull, the solvent has evaporated and the surface is ready to buff. It is a good idea to practice on a small area or inconspicuous spot when working with a new wax or unknown finish.
It is important to catch the wax just as the sheen changes since it makes the excess wax easier to remove. If you buff too quickly too much of the wax may be removed. Wait too long however and it may require hard prolonged polishing with a cloth, brush or power buffer.
When using a brush or power buffer, it is a good idea to remove excess wax first with a soft cloth to prevent wax build up. This helps eliminate smearing which is an indication that not enough excess wax has been removed. Remember you must remove the excess wax-not just smear it around and relocate it.
As a last step lightly buff the polished surface with a clean soft cloth. Maintenance of a wax finish requires only occasional dusting with a feather duster or soft cloth. If the surface starts looking dull, simply bring back the shine by rubbing with a soft cloth.
If your wax dries too hard, simply recoat and allow the solvent to soften it before buffing off.
You can save a step when smoothing and waxing an existing finish by applying the wax with 4/0 steel wool. Be sure to wax with the grain when using this method.
Both hand and drill powered buffing brushes make short work of waxing products and often do a more thorough and efficient job of wax removal and polishing than a cloth alone.