Hello Chestnuteers!

I’m back at base now, and exhibition season is pretty much over for this year so that’s where I’ll be staying for a while. We had an absolute blast at the Harrogate show and it was great to see so many friends and to make new ones. A genuine thank you to all the readers who came and said hello and said such nice things about my ramblings. Everyone’s ego needs a little boost now and then and to know they are not toiling in vain. I really appreciate it.

A while ago someone pointed me at a YouTube video about using abrasive waxes and pastes, such as our Cut’n’Polish. What I saw amused me; some of the statements made were dubious at best and some of the manufacturer’s claims just showed a complete lack of understanding about how waxes and coatings work. These products are all variations on a theme and however much the makers might want them to work in a certain way, they can’t. You can’t re-invent the wheel and ‘you cannae change the laws of physics’ (wrong branch of the sciences I know, but I couldn’t resist).
So this week’s newsletter is all about using Cut’n’Polish and other abrasive waxes/pastes.

(In case you’re unfamiliar with it, Cut’n’Polish is a wax with a very fine abrasive dispersed in it. It can be used after sanding bare wood to 240 grit to get a very fine surface without generating any extra sanding dust. Or it can be used over a sanding sealer to smooth it down, giving a very fine sealed surface.
So far so good; what concerns me most is how compatibility with other finishes is ignored and the initial reasons for using it. We’re quite clear about all of this on our labelling but just in case you’ve seen some bad practices on YouTube…)

The first issue is what you can put on top of Cut’n’Polish (and I’m going to refer to our product from now on, although the same will apply to all others). Cut’n’Polish is a wax based product. In relative terms it’s quite soft, so putting a lacquer over the top of it is asking for trouble as it could easily crack and craze. Wax is also used as a lubricant because it’s both slippery and other things find it hard to stick to it on a long term basis; lacquers will have the same problem and although they will stay put for a while they can eventually peel or flake off.
Ideally the only thing that should be put on top of Cut’n’Polish is another wax, such as WoodWax 22 or Microcrytalline Wax. Friction Polish can be used if you really must, but it’s not the best way to go.

I’ve seen people apply oil over Cut’n’Polish. This is wrong on so many levels;  firstly, oils want to penetrate into the timber and of course the wax will seal it and prevent this from happening. Oil on wax isn’t great, although it is ok the other way round. But more than anything, why bother using Cut’n’Polish if you’re going to oil the piece? You’re better off using the intended oil during the sanding process to reduce the dust generated. Lubricating the abrasive with the oil will give a much smoother surface, you’re applying a base of oil during sanding, and there will be no compatibility issues at all. If you haven’t tried wet sanding you really should.

The other comment I’ve seen is to use a solvent to clean the wax off afterwards to make sure you can apply any other finish. WHAT??
I don’t know where to begin on this; it’s practically impossible to remove all of the wax like this without using very harsh solvents (not normally commercially available) which are probably as harmful as the dust you’re trying to prevent. Any wax left behind will give all the problems above.
For the sake of a little pre-planning (and your choice of finish should be planned, not left to chance) you should know what finish you intend to use and whether it will go over a wax. And why do extra work removing the wax? We advocate that finishing should be quick and easy – adding an extra unnecessary process really is a backward step!

Whew! Did I get a bit carried away there? Sorry! I just get worked up when a great product is mis-used and could lead to problems. I think I’d better stop there.

But…I hope you’ve found that interesting and helpful, and if you have we’d be really pleased if you’d forward this email to your friends who might also benefit from it, so that they can subscribe and get the Newsletter direct from us every week. All they need to do is click the button below!

I’ll be back again next week and will return to the normal Question and Answer format, take care until then,