Interesting Woodworking Link

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Episode #43 - Beeswax Screw Lubricant

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This episode demonstrates how to make beeswax screw lubricant. This is very helpful for driving screws resulting in decreased resistance.

Please be careful and use common sense when making your own screw lubricant, as the wax and solvent are flammable. Keep solvent & wax away from open flame.

With nothing to do in my shop we venture into the kitchen for a woodworking field trip. The key thing is to not make a mess in the kitchen and to clean everything up when you are done!

I make a soft beeswax cream by first melting beeswax in an improvised double boiler then, after removing the melted beeswax from the heat source, then adding a measured amount of naphtha. Pour this mixture into a suitable container and set aside to cool.

Screws lubricated with beeswax screw lubricant drive much easier in hard woods. To use, simply press the point of your screw in the creamy wax!

Man has used beeswax for centuries. Woodworkers benefit in many ways from this natural substance. It is used to make fine furniture polish that is a staple for museums and furniture conservators. Beeswax is also helpful to lubricate and protect metal surfaces. Next time you pull out that finely tuned bench plane try a quick rub of beeswax on the sole. One of the oldest wood finishes is pure beeswax. Use it to lubricate sliding wood surfaces or ease driving screws in hard wood. Beeswax is an essential shop supply!

(internet sources)

Beeswax is produced when honeybees consume honey. It takes about 8 1/2 lbs of honey to produce one pound of beeswax.

Beeswax Fun Facts

• 10 flowers contain 1 drop of nectar

• 1 bee can carry 1 drop of nectar

• 10 drops of nectar yield 1 drop of honey

• 10 drops of honey equals 1 drop of wax

• 1000 flowers yield 1 drop of beeswax

Beeswax Technical Facts

• Chemical formula: C15 H31 CO2 C30 H61
• Insoluable in water

• Density 0.95

• Becomes brittle below 18 C

• Becomes soft and pliable above 35 C to 40 C

• Melting point 65 C (149 F) highest melting point of any known wax
• Stable chemical makeup
Essentially remains constant over time
• Usable wax has been found in ancient tombs


Unknown said...

Hey that's cool and why I like The Folding Rule Show. I use a bar of soap that's been around for years, but you need 2 hands and at this point you have to scrape the soap pretty hard. Your approach is a quick one-handed dip and your off to the races. Very Cool David!!!

Really enjoy your methods, they make you see how habbitual work "habbits" become which often does not mean they are efficient.


David Pruett said...

Neil -


Tom said...

Back when hammers had wooden handles, some carpenters would drill a hole in the end of the handle and pack it with beeswax. That made a handy way to lube a screw before driving it. It's one of the tricks Dad showed me. I'm still thinking about how to apply this to my 43-year-old old steel-handled Craftsman hammer. First I'll get some beeswax.

David Pruett said...

Tom -

That is a very cool story . . . I love the historical aspect. I think there are a lot of things we can learn from the old time carpenters! Now, I wish I had a good tip for a steel handled hammer!


Bruce Somers said...


I used my Dr. Pruett's Screw Lube for the first time today, driving #6 brass screws through some hard maple and into sapele. They spun in amazingly quickly. Thanks for sharing your DrPSL with me.


Lubricant Manufacturer said...

Interesting blog but I want to read more about it.

Anonymous said...

a box of Towbridges grafting wax in the tool box.
My grandfather gave me a box it lasts a long, long time of course a wax ring from the plumbing dept at the big box works too

Anonymous said...

I threw away my steel handled hammers and fiberglass handled hammers ages ago - so long I can't remember. Wood feels good with the swing and does not have that awkward heft that steel does. Now I will try the beeswax in the handle end. I buy beeswax by the pound and use it for all kinds of formulas.