Wax Removal from new stock? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 01-09-2014, 11:18 AM Thread Starter
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Angry Wax Removal from new stock?

This is my first post on any wood-working forum. I purchase small pieces of hardwood on line so i have some project pieces...never know what I will make advance until I see the wood. I purchase exclusively over the internet and have been doing so for over a decade.
I just purchased 3 pieces from Cookwoods (my 1st from them). Two of the pieces, Olive Burl & Carlo Walnut arrived covered in a thick coat of wax. I called their office and asked for guidance in removing the wax without damaging the underlying wood surface. I was told to use a razor blade. I tried this method using a fresh blade in a flat-edged razor scraper. After 15-20 minuets scraping a a 2" by 2" section on the Olive Burl I had not reach the surface! Most unsatisfactory method. I have tried Denatured Alcohol, Lacquer Thinner, Turpentine Gum Spirits...all with no discernible effect on the wax.
I have emailed Cookwoods twice in the past 3 days for suggestions...but no answers as of yet. I have considered a blow torch or immersing in boiling salt water (old cure) but both are very messy. Has anyone else run into this problem before and have a sensible way to remove the wax? Cutting it with a saw would also necessitate cleaning the unit and blades afterwards. If they had use some linseed oil first the wax would come off like cheese-wax. The third piece was Lychee and although it had no wax it was warped beyond use. They have only offered me a 50% credit on its price )-:
None of the 3 pieces can be used on my table saw/band-saw/planner/spindles due to either the wax or the warp. I will shop elsewhere in the future. Thanks in advance for any suggestions. Best wishes
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post #2 of 7 Old 01-09-2014, 11:26 AM
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It is common for small wood blanks in exotic species to be coated with wax. The wood is not dried and so the wax is used to prevent cracking from moisture loss.

The normal method is to scrape the wax off the surface or cut on the table saw or band saw or it a turning blank, begin turning on the lathe and the wax comes off as the item is roughed down.

Be aware that once the wax is removed the wood will slowly start to change its moisture content to be equal to your shop. Typically this will mean loosing some moisture, and so shrinking across the grain.

Do not cut to final dimensions until the wood has stabilized in your shop which may take a few weeks.
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post #3 of 7 Old 01-09-2014, 02:45 PM
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I've never noticed the wax from any of my pieces affecting my tools at all. I just scrape it off (not with a razor but with a cabinet scraper or similar) or cut through it.
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post #4 of 7 Old 01-09-2014, 03:04 PM
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A common solvent for wax is mineral spirits, the ones you used won't work. Have you tried slightly warming in a 200 oven for 10 minutes, then see if a putty knife will lift the majority. Remaining residue can be scraped with a card scraper or single edged razor blade used as a small scraper, then cleaned with a rag and mineral spirits, the real stuff, not the low odor. Don't soak the wood with the paint thinner or it could cause wax to sink into the grain deeper. Shouldn't be a problem after the work you do, cutting, shaping, sanding, but nitro lacquers can be problematic if wax remains.
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post #5 of 7 Old 01-09-2014, 03:19 PM Thread Starter
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I guess I will try a small block plane, easier to clean. I envision a real mess with cutting off the wax. Why would they not disclose in the description the wood was wax coated and had to scraped. The wax is embedded in the wood surface and will not accept Teak Oil and stain. To removed the outer layer, I will have to re-square each piece reducing the usable wood. This is a a lot of extra work and nonsense and I would never have purchased if it I knew in advance. I have purchased everything from ebony to lemon wood, dozens of different species in a variety of cuts, and if treated, the ends are shellacked and a light coat of linseed oil is applied before storage. I can work with that...maybe I'm old fashioned...or spoiled, but no more wax for me.
Thanks...no more rant.
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post #6 of 7 Old 01-09-2014, 03:28 PM
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As far as exotics go, I have only purchased a few pieces of rosewood, which were all waxed at the ends. I scraped some off with a card scraper but otherwise pretended it wasn't there to no ill effect. It didn't make a mess or interfere with anything I did.
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post #7 of 7 Old 01-09-2014, 03:37 PM
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Heat will melt the wax = just soaks in further.
Solvents dissolve the wax = just soaks in further.

I buy Yellow Cedar for carving. Most of it is waxed.
The little pieces are maybe 3" x 4" x 60".
Ends are heavy (cut off anyway), the sides have thin coatings.
The easiest method for me is to cut it off in fine thin chips with a crooked knife.
The wood is sawmill rough and scrapers (make my own) dont' work well.

Your situation: keep the wood cold so that the wax is hard.
A plane would work OK. I suggest that you work over a plastic drop sheet
so you don't stomp the wax junk into your floor.
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