I’m a lumber-scavenger. I pick up logs here and there, split them into manageable pieces, and resaw them on my bandsaw. Usually I seal the ends with leftover latex paint, which is somewhat effective in preventing checks in the ends. But when I really want to preserve a piece of wood intact, I turn to paraffin wax.
My wax-on setup is decidedly low-tech. I melt the wax in an old peanut can on a camp stove. I’m on the lookout for an old stock pot, which will allow me to dip wider boards. Here I’m sealing the ends of some very tough mystery wood (persimmon, I think) that will eventually become mallets and chisel handles.
A few tips on coating wood with wax:
- Melt the wax over low heat, and then turn the burner off before dipping your wood. Liquid wax IS flammable!
- Set the end of the wood in the liquid wax for a few seconds, which will let the it penetrate the wood’s pores just a little. It will also ensure that any irregularities in the surface are adequately covered.
- Dip at least 1″ of the end into the wax. If you cover only the end, checks will still develop.
- If a board is too wide to dip, brush the wax on with a bristle brush. Double-check to see that you have covered the surface completely.
Paraffin wax is easy to find in the canning section of grocery stores. You can also save the butt ends of candles. However, if you go to just about any rummage sale, you can pick up a whole armload of candles for cheap.
My red wax above is the remains of a big cinnamon-scented candle I salvaged, so my lumber pile will smell like Christmas all year long.