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Beeswax and rosin finish

kamanza's picture

One of my clients has requested beeswax finish to be applied to the furniture i am making for him. I only have a general idea that the finish should contain beeswax and rosin but i do not know either the exact composition or the method of application. I would be grateful for the information about it.

peter28's picture

(post #126172, reply #1 of 4)

I've had requests like that too. What type of furniture are you making?

There are literally hundreds of recipes out there. What led you to the wax and rosin mixture?

I know I'm supposed to be answering questions not asking them but a little info will be helpful.

Beeswax by itself is very soft and can be somewhat difficult to apply. Rosin or colophony is the leftover resin from the distillation of turpentine.

A basic recipe would be;

For light color woods, use bleached beeswax, for dark the unbleached brown.

Shave some beeswax into a pan or bowl. Cover it with turpentine. This can then be either put in the sun to melt or over a double boiler that is heated with an electric hotplate. DO NOT USE AN OPEN FLAME OF ANY SORT WHEN DOING THIS.

Crush some rosin and put it in a separate container and add turpentine to it. Let it sit until it fully incorporates. Filter the solution before adding it slowly to the hot wax mixture. Stir it in well to the wax.

Once cooled you can determine if it is too thick, just add a little more turpentine. If too thin a little more wax. It is not an exact science.

If you need to come up with a formula, try mixing one part rosin to 4 parts wax mixture. You can always bump the rosin. Generally the rosin is kept to a small percentage. Understand a part can be a spoonful, a cupful, a bucketful....... You get the idea.

The wax can be applied with a stiff brush when it is still fairly warm. If you want to use a pad of some sort consider a white scotch pad or a gray if you need something more aggressive.

Once applied let the turps evaporate. This might take a day. You can speed the operation up by using a good mineral spirits or even a combination of naptha and mineral spirits. These will evaporate faster than turpentine.

When you go to buff it, a good stiff brush for the initial buff followed by a softer brush would be standard procedure. You can also use a maroon scotch pad (which is very aggressive) to remove the excess followed by a white scotch pad for the final rub.

A good reference book for you would be;

Formulas for Painters

Robert Massey author, Watson Guptill publisher.

Like I said before, what type of furniture wood etc.?


kamanza's picture

(post #126172, reply #2 of 4)

Thanks a lot for your answer. It is 1 AM here now (Romania) but I am
going to try it first thing in the morning.
The furniture in this case is an oak and ash bedroom suite.
The client wanted it waxed, not lacquered and I remembered a friend
in Israel (my original country) talking about the advantages of beeswax and rosin finish.
Thanks again, best regards,

peter28's picture

(post #126172, reply #3 of 4)


I've gotten questions from New Zealand and Australia. Now I'm happy to add Romania to the list.

Just a thought; before you do any wax finish on a very porous wood, it's always a good idea to seal it with a light coat or two of shellac. That way if ever you need to remove it (wax), just wash it well with mineral spirits and dry it. You'll be left with a fresh surface as the mineral spirits will have no effect on the shellac.

The funny thing about wax finishes; they are very stable if not used in a very heavy handed way yet they will wear off quickly if subjected to constant abuse.

I have some tables with just shellac and wax on them. We use this furniture on a daily basis and it looks fine. I sometimes think the durability issue many think is the holy grail of finishing, is often over blown.

The table tops of this suite would need a little care in the placement of wet glasses on the surface for extended periods of time but the rest should be OK.

Just to add one more thought to digest, you may consider using dammar resin in your wax. It's just another option for you to explore.

Keep me posted and if you can send a picture when complete, I'd love to see it.

Have fun.


logcamp212's picture

Beeswax finish (post #126172, reply #4 of 4)

I have very limited experience with finishing, and have a basic question on potential formulas for using beeswax.

A couple of the options considered seem less common, and I was unsure of the trade-offs. Solvents like turpentine, linseed oil and mineral spirits seem most common, or mineral oil for a food grade formula.

My wife would like me to consider using a vegetable based oil like Olive or Walnut as the solvent. Is the downside just cost, or are there performance issues in the near and longer term? I also had an older recipe that used some rosin. What would this contribute to the mixture? The finish is for general household items that receive varying degrees of use. Thanks.