A versatile accessory on the jewellery bench such as beeswax has a plethora of uses, and you can feel good about helping out the plight of our bees at the same time.
From lubricating your jewellery saw blades to coating your threads and cords for beading, the list of uses for beeswax goes on and on.
100% Natural beeswax is less oily and easier to clean than bleached beeswax products, leaving less residue on your tools.
Once you’ve finished using it on your workbench you can seal some homemade cheese with it - yes, really. Take a look at Curd Nerd for their tips on waxing cheese with beeswax.
But let's take a look at how you can use beeswax in your studio or workshop….
When cutting metal beeswax helps the saw blades to glide smoothly through the metal without 'catching', making sawing much easier and reducing the number of broken blades.
Once the saw blades are strung in the jewellery saw frame, swipe the back of the saw blade through the beeswax before using.
For more information on cutting metal with a jewellery saw and how the beeswax helps with a clean, smooth cut, have a read of our article: 'How to Use a Jewellery saw'
Beeswax is a lifesaver when beading and sewing. Wax and coat the cord, thread and silks when you're stringing beads and pearls to prevent fraying, knotting and tangling. The same applies to sewing and embroidery thread.
Melt the beeswax and mix with a tiny amount of olive oil if you find the wax block is crumbling. Jeweller, Diana Redlin explains more on this in her article on the Jewelry Making Journal website.
For fiddly and tiny beads you can also mould the beeswax into a pointed ‘pick-up-stick’ and use it to pick up the beads.
Stone setters and beaders use beeswax for picking up and holding small stones, beads and pearls in place whilst setting or beading.
Shape your beeswax into a cylinder and taper the point. Alternatively, warm the wax so it's malleable and press a small amount onto the end of a stick of pegwood. Use this to pick up and place small parts when stone setting.
If the wax is too sticky you can mix it with a bit of ash.
The oxidised areas of the silver will eventually shine up over time, but applying beeswax with a clean soft cloth to the area of oxidised silver acts as a sealant and prolongs the oxidisation from shining up too quickly.
Jeweller Cecilia Stamp has a page based on 'Aftercare' on her website which is a nice touch. Take a look. She suggests using beeswax to seal and protect any oxidised silver jewellery made by her.
When rubbed onto a surface of metal, for instance, natural beeswax leaves a film onto which a design can then be transferred.
Beeswax is the best lubricant when drawing wire through a drawplate.
Take a look at Hans Meevis' Jewelry Tutorial for step by step instructions on how to do this.
Use beeswax to give your beach pebbles, stones and rocks a natural looking shine and polish.
Always use a clean soft cloth for this that hasn’t been used with any other cleaning product or jewellery abrasive/polishing compound otherwise this will mark your stones.
By applying beeswax to your steel drill bits, screws and nails, will help reduce friction in the cut during machining.
Coat your nails, screws and drill bits with beeswax to prevent them from splintering wood as they go in.
The same applies to using beeswax on drill bits going through metal to achieve a cleaner cut and prolong the life of the drill bits.
Use beeswax on your stainless steel tools where you require them to move smoothly on the glass and to prevent oxide deposits from discolouring your light colours.
To apply the beeswax wave the tool through your flame then swipe both sides of the tool on your beeswax block. Remove any residue.
Do not use beeswax on any tool you use to grip the glass with.
Use beeswax as a cutting lubricant for tools when working on wood and use it to restore surfaces, joints and any moving parts.
If you coat your nails, screws and drill bits with beeswax they will not splinter the wood as they go in.
Coat your hand tools with beeswax to prevent them from rusting. See the notes at the bottom of this article on the different ways to Blacken Steel using Beeswax.
This a very old method of casting pieces and the beeswax will need some manipulation in order to use it in this way.
Mix with a tiny amount of light oil and keep the wax cool as it begins to warm and become too soft.
Other Uses for Beeswax
- Preserve the bodies of guitars
- Coat Tambourine surfaces when using the roll playing technique
- Coat woodwind instrument reeds
- Coat bag pipe strings
- Skin care products such as lotions and balms
- Batik fabric dyeing
- Sealing cheese
- Sealing envelopes and letters. In recent years this has made a comeback
- Shoe Polish. Waterproofing shoes and boots with an outer layer of wax
- Maintaining dreadlocks and moustaches
- Grease cooking pans, cast iron skillet and baking sheets for home use
- Make your own beeswax candles
- Furniture polish for wooden surface and granite counter tops
- Beeswax finish on a steel table or a welding table
- Cleaning your kitchen range hood
- Cotton-soaked or clean rag beeswax wrap - an alternative to clingfilm
- Prevent bronze from tarnishing
- Lubrication for wet suit zips for surfers and divers
- Lubrication and waterproofing of bow strings in archery
- Ukrainian egg decoration called Pysanky
- Water resistant sealant for matches when camping
- Wax surfaces of skis, snowboards and surfboards
A ferrous metal surface, so any metal which contains Iron or steel, stainless steel, copper, copper alloys, zinc and silver solder that will rust without a protective coating can be blackened to prevent mild corrosion and minimise light reflection. Often referred to as Blacking.
The Term 'blackened steel' means to literally create a black finish onto the surface of the metal or steel sheet to coat it in a slight anti-corrosive covering and produce a darker colour to the metal than its original color.
The protective layer has its drawbacks as it won't last a long time and depending on your personal preference will obviously discolour the surface of the metal to a black color which may or may not be desired. Certainly for jewellery, sculpture and art purposes a black finish to the surface of the steel may be the look you're going for.
There are different blackening methods, and Industries will use chemical reactions such as Black Oxide to Blacken steel, but what if you wish to do this at home for interior use, or for artistic purposes or jewellery making? With a bit of beeswax and by following these easy steps you can blacken bare steel and create a darker finish to your steel at home simply with Bees Wax and a small amount of pure linseed oil. Good Luck!
- Clean the steel using an alcohol-based cleaner that will leave it clean and dry making sure first to remove any rust using a wire wheel.
- Heat the steel using a micro hand torch or place in the oven on a tray at 425 Degrees Fahrenheit/220 Degrees Celcius. These high temperatures will turn the steel light brown ensuring it will be hot enough and ready.
- Melt the beeswax in a saucepan.
- For best results use a mixture of molten beeswax and some raw linseed oil (Just a tiny amount to thin it out a bit. Motor oil can also be used but Linseed is preferable). Rub onto the metal surface using a 100% cotton cloth or a cotton calico wheel in your rotary tool making sure to cover the surface in a uniform fashion.
- Re-heat the hot steel again by placing it in the oven for between 20-30 minutes (don't use the torch for this)
- Cool gently outside or at room temperature in a well ventilated room. The beeswax finish is complete!