Wax On – Wax Off!

Wax Carving KitAt Seattle Findings, we get a great deal of customers who are self-taught. Some techniques are not as easily learned on one’s own, and some require more or less instruction. Wax carving is one such skill, that once you have mastered the basics, you can potentially create anything you can dream, if you only you have enough time and enough wax!

For those of you, who are beginning to explore casting and wax carving, try out these tips and watch your carving skills improve!

Wax Rings1. The most important thing to start out with is a drawing (or several) and a clear idea of what you intend to make.
Bracelet Wax2. Once you have a good idea of what you’d like to carve, it is time to pick out your wax! The softness and pliability of wax is marked by its color. Blue is the softest, purple is medium soft, and green is the hardest. If you haven’t carved before, it is easiest to begin with the hardest wax (green). If you plan to carve small delicate parts, such as prongs, green is too brittle, blue will be too soft, purple should work out well.

3. Cut any stable shapes first. For instance, when carving a ring, be sure to size the ring tube to the desired ring size before you begin any design carving! It is easiest to size a wax ring with a ring wax sizer, instead of trying to use a hand tool or flexshaft to carve the inside away. A ring wax sizer will carve quickly and evenly.

Divider4. Measure out and mark where you should begin carving. Just like carving anything else, it will speed up the time and effort you spend if you can remove any large unnecessary chunks from your wax first. To measure how much you need to remove, a sharp compass or divider is very handy. You can dig into the wax to mark it, or use any type of permanent pen.

Spiral Wax Blades5. The easiest way to remove large chunks of wax is with a coping saw and a wax blade. The twisted tooth of the wax blade allows the blade to cut through the wax without getting stuck. Once you’ve cut the large chunks off, you can start carving with a flexshaft and wax burs, or by hand.

6. The final touches and details can be done with hand tools or a flexshaft. It may be helpful to sharpen, shorten, or thin out your hand carving tools to better fit the needs of your design. It is always better to adjust your tools to your design, rather than adjust your design to the tools you have.

Wax Kleen7. When you have your design completely carved, try buffing it with 300, 400, or 600 grit sandpaper to smooth any rough areas. Personally, I like to buff with a soft paper towel after 600 grit. I’ve found the extra buffing takes out any small scratches in the surface of the wax that the 600 grit didn’t get. Wiping your wax down with alcohol & or Wax Kleen also will help to reduce remaining scratches or mars in the wax.

* The more finishing you can do before casting, will save you time once your design is cast!
Working with a wax pen has many aditional wax applications and many other techniques. Wax pens can be used in conjunction with carving, or by themselves to smooth or create various textures. The best advice for any wax carver working with any method is to practice trial & error, then document your results! Keeping a journal or notebook of your discoveries will allow you to recreate happy accidents and help to decrease your errors. Happy carving!

-Amelia Upton

Check back later this week for Tips & Tricks from Leah
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