Wax by itself is not a good choice for a wood finish. It is soft and provides almost no protection against heat, water, water vapor exchange, solvents, and stains. It does provide some protection against abrasion by making the surface of the wood slicker so that glancing blows will slide off rather than gouging the surface. Wax is best used as a polishing and preserving agent on top of other finishes, to retain the natural color of the wood while providing some sheen, or perhaps as a minimalist finish on carvings and other decorative items that are seldom handled. A thick wax coating also works well as a moisture barrier when applied to the end grain of freshly cut wood in order to minimize checks and splits.


  • Excellent polish when used on top of other finishes.
  • Provides protection against superficial scrapes and scratches.


  • Least protective of all finishes.
  • A dirty wax finish is difficult to repair once the dirt lodges in the wood pores.

Brand Names

Waxes may be natural or artificial. Common ingredients include beeswax, carnauba (from carnauba palm leaves) and paraffin (a mineral wax).

Antiquax Original Wax Polish
Butcher’s Paste Wax
Johnson Paste Wax
Liberon Fine Paste Wax
Lundmark’s Clear Paste Wax
Lundmark’s Liquid Paste Wax
Minwax Paste Finishing Wax
Old Masters Paste Wax
Satin Finishing Wax
Trewax Paste Wax


Wax is easy to apply. Place a lump of it in the center of a clean cotton cloth and then twist together the corners to form a ball. Holding the ball between your fingers, rub it onto the surface of the wood, using a circular or back-and-forth motion. Allow to dry to a dull haze and then rub off the excess wax with a clean dry cloth. Repeat the process until the desired sheen is achieved (usually 3-4 coats will suffice). Just don’t glom too much wax on at any one time or attempt to buff the wax before it has dried.