Introduction: Candle Polish Wood

My bathroom was designed with the towel rack as far as possible from the shower. I placed a couple hooks near by to fix that. Over time the hooks worked loose. They still did the job but looked awful. With some poplar and a candle I made it nice again.

A few great things about doing a candle finish:

  • No noxious fumes.
  • It's non-toxic.
  • Application is fast and simple.
  • It's cheap! (One candle does a lot of projects).

I'll take you through the whole project but if you just want the polishing part skip to step 3.

Step 1: Cutting and Shaping

I used the hook to guess a measurement on how tall the wood backing should be. I just wanted it a little taller than the hook itself. After cutting the wood I rounded the edge over with a 3/8" router bit. You can see the old hook locations in the last 2 photos.

Step 2: Adding Hardware

Using my trusty square I marked pilot holes for the hardware. I drilled six holes and countersunk two for mounting it on the wall. Those will eventually be covered by the hooks. Before moving on I sanded it with 220 grit sand paper.

Step 3: Waxing Wood

To do this I used a plain white candle, propane torch, and heat gun. The torch melts the wax off the candle fast. Once there was a line down the center I used a sponge applicator to spread it around. Since it's wax it solidifies when cool. To help the application I used a heat gun. Don't use a torch to heat the wax on the wood. You could burn it.

Step 4: Burnishing Wood

When the wood is evenly coated, load a paper towel with wax. Do this by dripping the molten wax on directly on the towel. Rub the waxed towel in small circles against the entire surface.

Step 5: Buffing Wood

By now you should have a shine building up. Finish by buffing the wood with a few drops of water and a cotton cloth.

Note: Don't wear the shirt you'r wife got you for Christmas while doing this. Wax is difficult to get out of clothing.

Thanks for reading.

Comments

author
Nicolas Jara (author)2017-08-09

It works great! Thanks for sharing.

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HaleyP3 (author)2017-03-06

You can do all the wax melting and distribution with a clothing iron. Leave the iron in one spot for a few seconds until the paraffin wax bubbles and the wax can soak into the wood. After this soaking I think the wood should be very waterproof. Then you can buff it shiny. I did my work table to keep it from getting moldy.

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Yonatan24 (author)2016-02-15

Awesome! I think I might be able to rub the candle with a lot of force onto the wood and then melt it with a hot hair dryer to make it spread evenly (Because I don' have those tools)

Thanks for sharing!

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druchivld (author)Yonatan242016-07-24

i did that once for a audio amplifier case with a birthday candle and a hairdryer, it worked wonders!

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Yonatan24 (author)Yonatan242016-02-15

*Don't

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PhilW3 (author)2016-07-16

ive actually never thought of finishing wood with candle wax. thank you for the technique. it looks awesome.

author
Yonatan24 (author)2016-02-15

Awesome! I think I might be able to rub the candle with a lot of force onto the wood and then melt it with a hot hair dryer to make it spread evenly (Because I don' have those tools)

Thanks for sharing!

author
confu made it! (author)2015-06-10

Gave it a try on our outdoor furniture and I´m pretty satisfied with the results!
(I didn´t want a polished surface, just had weatherproofing in mind...)


First attempt was to sand down an old reclaimed solid wood tabletop and treat it with wax.
When I applied the wax it turned the wood pretty dark which was not my intention. And when I tested the water resistance with a sprinkler I was pretty dissappointed at first. The water did drip off nicely, but if it stayed a while on the surface it left a lighter coloured stain. I thought I had ruined the tabletop, BUT...
After a few rainfalls the complete tabletop adopted that lighter stain, just the way it looked after sanding (e.g. like untreated) AND it was still water-repellent.

Very nice result, just the way I had in mind!

Also treated a little folding table for our balkony this way, really like the appearance, looks like untreated wood, but is weather-proof.

Thanks a lot for the inspiration :)

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puffin_juice (author)confu2016-01-01

We used to use shoe polish to both colour wood and make it waterproof. Some shoe polishes contain waxes and oils so it does the same thing but doesn't require heating to penetrate the wood

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BOMB91 (author)2015-11-12

Do you think that it would work with wood Turing?

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Mrballeng (author)BOMB912015-11-12

Yes it's done all the time.

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magiclibero (author)2015-08-12

Thanks for sharing your experience, very very usefull

tks tks tks

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paleogirl (author)2015-05-10

I would have to ask the same as Antioch. Is it just to test the water repellancy of the finish? I have tons of candles I can do this with. To that, did you test whether or not it withstood any heat? will it accommodate trivets? Is is resigned only to light-use applications, or will there be required maintenance if you use it as a coffee table?

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dpiccine (author)paleogirl2015-05-13

good question....

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antioch (author)2015-02-06

Can you elaborate on the last step, the sprinkling and polishing it with water?

Why the water, and why that last step of polishing? (It appears that the previous polishing with the wax.soaked cloth seems to yield a nice result)

author
antioch (author)antioch2015-02-25

(with water and wax repelling each other, you know...)

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zero3846 (author)2015-01-19

You know if this technique well work well for irregular surfaces, such as relief work?

author

Maybe a paste wax?

Suzanne in Orting, WA

author

Tried paste wax on a dinning room table, it was not water proof, nor was it hard enough to withstand writing. A ball point pen marred the table while writing a letter.

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Mrballeng (author)zero38462015-01-26

Never did it. It's easiest on flat surfaces.

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wwasantha (author)2015-01-22

if wax split on your clothes iron the clothes thoroughly with an iron,thats it

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Kevanf1 (author)wwasantha2015-01-23

If you put some paper underneath the clothing then the iron will melt the wax and it will then be absorbed by the paper underneath it.

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Pat_Maroney (author)Kevanf12015-01-27

My concern is it will transfer to the paper. If I'm folding with pricey sheets, or paper I can't get again, I'd rather it not get waxy.

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snoopindaweb (author)wwasantha2015-01-22

Water proof? ~(:-})={>----]

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Mrballeng (author)snoopindaweb2015-01-26

Water resistant

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glenwood13 (author)2015-01-22

I'm quite an amateur compared to most of the folks who are sooooo knowledgeable and talented on Instructables. I do so appreciate your talent and more so your sharing it with those of us wannabees. Thank you, thank you, thank. Can't wait to try out your waxing technique. I look forward to checking out some of your other Instructables.

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Mrballeng (author)glenwood132015-01-26

Thanks!

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mjursic (author)2015-01-22

What does the finish feel like? It seems to me it would be a bit waxy to the touch; i.e., slightly sticky. Looks real good, though. Nice job.

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Mrballeng (author)mjursic2015-01-26

It feels smooth not tacky.

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fredellarby (author)mjursic2015-01-22

I use this on a lathe and it makes a surprisingly hard finish. It's all in the buff/burnishing.

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Pat_Maroney (author)2015-01-25

Ditto to Gecko_girl3. You've taught me so many amazing things over the years (has it really been 5?!). I'm curious about the layer of wax on the finished surface, If I did this to a coffee table I plan to use as a work surface (say to fold origami) could the wax possibly transfer to the paper? If you drag a fingernail across it does the wax scrape off or does it soak in fairly well?

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Mrballeng (author)Pat_Maroney2015-01-26

It depends how thick you out it on. I only use it for small projects. If it is damaged it's easily redone.

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gecko_girl3 (author)2015-01-23

Even if you did get a little wax on your shirt, your wife should be thrilled with all you've created. I've been a fan of your 'ibles and the items you create for years (5 to be exact). From rings, to pendants, to the fish bones, to bathroom hardware, your wife is one lucky lady to have such an incredibly talneted husband. Keep up the great work! I've learned so much from your 'ibles over the years, thanks for that.

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Mrballeng (author)gecko_girl32015-01-23

Aw thanks. I even showed my wife this comment. Way to give me brownie points! You made my day.

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vincent7520 (author)2015-01-23

Nice ! …

You can also heat up the wood with your heat gun just before applying the candle wax. Thus it will enlarge the wood fibers and will embed the wax deeper in the wood material. This will assure a longer waxing effect in time.

Thanks for posting.

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DerDok (author)2015-01-22

can I mix it with olive oil?, I got a recipe for beeswax and olive oil for a wood finish, seems like it would be easier to apply

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the.mom.1956 (author)2015-01-22

If you screw up and get wax in the $100 shirt your wife bought you for Christmas, the wax can be removed using a warm iron and paper towels. Place the paper towels on the spot of wax, on both sides. Using a warm iron, melt the wax out of the shirt and onto the paper towels. Be patient; you want to remove the wax, not burn the shirt.

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madmantoo (author)2015-01-22

Nice Job, way back we used to wax wood floors with the same process. alot of work but worth it.

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LynxSys (author)2015-01-22

This is a very interesting technique. Do you find that it soaks into the wood like many other waterproofing finishes do (and is thus fairly durable), or is this more of a surface treatment only? Also, have you tried the burnishing or polishing steps with power tools? I'm thinking that an automotive buffer (cheap small ones can be had for $20) might make this process faster.

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mrsgyver (author)2015-01-22

Nice project! I will try it someday. Thank you.
BTW Candle wax on clothes or carpet can be sucked up with a linen cloth or viva paper towel and a warm to hot iron.

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rich.meyer.503 (author)2015-01-21

beautiful, beautiful. project. all of us, i"m sure, hope that you put a coat or two on the back. without a finish on the other side, the wood will likely get a twist or bow in it, especially in a bathroom environment... still looking good, but not flat.

good looking project, and i learned a new finish.

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Subashii (author)2015-01-21

at first i was scared of damaging my table but then I started to see results, took me 1½ hour to finish half of it

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Geedox (author)2015-01-20

Great! I Remember my grandmother talking about using beeswax or candlewax to polish furniture! My personal experience is using carnauba wax (non abrasive auto wax) for the same purpose!

Keep it up!

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gravityisweak (author)2015-01-20

This is nice. I wonder what would happen if you were to use a colored or scented candle. Also, for people who are unfamiliar with waxy coatings, scratches in the wax can easily be buffed out until the waxy coating is gone. Also, it takes very little wax to complete.

On another note, melting shoe polish over your shoes is an amazing way to get a fantastic shine.

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aram ft (author)2015-01-20

its nice and simple..do you have tired for make it???

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Pitera Man (author)2015-01-19

Does the candle wax scratch off easily?

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Mrballeng (author)Pitera Man2015-01-19

It depends on how thick you put on the wax. I only use it for small projects that don't have to stand a lot of wear. But you know floors are also waxed.

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Pitera Man (author)Mrballeng2015-01-20

Try adding carnauba resin to your waxing to harden it so the finish is more durable. I make a wax from coconut oil (3), beeswax (2), and carnauba resin (1) that I use on many projects. Any oil, wax or resin can be substituted but those are the best I found.

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ymgagnon (author)2015-01-20

Yes! I have pretty much the same problem and was thinking to paint the board like a chump! No more paint for this guy!

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zabee113 (author)2015-01-19

I wish I could do this but my mom won't buy candles or let them pass the door

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