WEEK COMMENCING 18 OCTOBER 2020
You may have seen that the TV show I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, The Chop, has been taken off air due to a controversy involving one of its contestants. This is a shame in so many ways; the loss of a show about woodworking, the waste of time and effort (and possiby revenue) for everyone involved on both sides of the camera, and also because our friend Sean Evelegh, one of the (non-controversial) contestants didn’t get a chance to shine and show what he’s capable of. If you’d like to see for yourself, Sean recently made a beautiful chair, finished in Ebonising Lacquer, for his YouTube channel. Worth searching for.
Hopefully The Chop will return in a slightly edited form in the near future.
Now, it’s Question Time. Hmmm, that’s a good name for a TV programme…(although this week has a slightly different format, one long answer in different parts).
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned about Machine Wax and that we don’t produce one as such, as either of our paste waxes can be used for this. This rang a bell this week when I was asked about a sanding wax…
Now, that’s not to be confused with an abrasive wax such as our Cut’n’Polish. That’s a soft wax with a fine abrasive dispersed within it, which can be used either on bare wood (usually after sanding to 240 grit) or on sealed wood. The abrasive in the wax cuts back at a very fine level, breaking down and getting finer in use, leaving a very smooth surface. The wax stays on the surface as well and provides either a final finish or a base for another coating, usually more wax or Friction Polish.
There are many reasons for using an abrasive wax, one of the most common cited is that it cuts down on the amount of sanding dust generated, which is true. So where does a sanding wax come in?
A ‘sanding wax’ is used to lubricate the abrasive paper/cloth, and at the same time the wax collects any dust that is generated and prevents it circulating in the workshop. This can be very effective and allows for the use of an abrasive to your chosen grade. Where this falls down is that I’ve then heard of people cleaning off the wax with a solvent before applying another finish, which strikes me as crazy. It’s impossible to remove all of the wax, part of the beauty of using a wax like this is that it impregnates the timber with the wax, forming a great foundation for, you guessed it, more wax. Putting a lacquer on top of it is asking for trouble, any amount of wax left behind will stop the lacquer from sticking properly.
And what solvent are you going to use to remove the wax? Chances are it’s at least as hazardous as the dust you’re trying to avoid, so there’s no health advantage either.
And ‘sanding wax’? In the same way that waxes aren’t clever enough to know whether they’re being applied to wood or metal, they’re also too dumb to realise how they’re being applied. Whether it’s with a cloth or an abrasive. The important thing here is to use a slower drying wax, so that it stays ‘wet’ long enough to do the job. WoodWax 22 will work on small items, but this is one situation where its quick drying time isn’t an advantage. The Microcrystalline Wax is ideal though, whatever the size you’re working on, because it stays wet for a good ten minutes, giving plenty of time to lubricate and collect the dust.
Some people advocate ‘removing the wax’ as mentioned above and then applying an oil over the top. That’s taking crazy to a new level.
Oils work beautifully for wet sanding. They’re slower drying to begin with, so act as lubrication and dust collector for a long time, and sanding with oil gives an exceptionally smooth surface, can create a slurry which fills the pores of the wood, and will be applying fine coats of oil as you work. Using a wax for sanding is totally redundant in this case. The sanding dust usually forms into clumps which fall away, rather than being circulated in the workshop. Once you’ve finished sanding simply apply more of the oil to get the finish you want.
An option on this is to use the Food Safe Finish very sparingly, applying a thin coat to the work before sanding. Because this is a very slow drying, thick oil, by they time you’ve worked through all the grits you’ll have removed all of the oil, leaving a clean surface which can be finished with pretty much any product you want to use. Click here for a video clip showing this – it includes a great close-up of the sanding dust falling away in clumps. (You’ll know if you’ve removed all the oil and are safe to use a different finish as dust will start coming off when you sand).
I’m always surprised by the number of people who haven’t come across the idea of wet sanding before; it might not be suitable for every job but it certainly has its benefits and could be worth thinking about on your next job.
And there you have it for now, but I mentioned about a competition earlier, so here it is…
Regular Chestnuteer Mike F contacted me recently. As you should know, we have a Facebook group called Conkers and we’ve named our livestreams ‘Conkers LIVE’ after it. Mike has a horse chestnut tree in his garden and was approached by a lady asking if she could collect the conkers it had dropped.. Mike said yes, and after a couple of hours on her hands and knees she’d collected between 50 and 75kg of them. But can you figure out why she wanted them? It’s not for a massive game of conkers, I’ll tell you that much, but why? There’s a £25 gift voucher up for grabs for a correct answer, picked at random if there’s more than one. This competition will be run across all of our social platforms. Good luck if you have a go! Just email to enter.
I’ll leave you puzzling and will see you next week!