Monday, March 11, 2013

Tips & Tricks: An easy way to apply beeswax to your axe handles

I've experimented with different ways to apply beeswax to an axe handle, including trying suggestions from the internet to use a double boiler or paint thinner to dissolve the wax so it can be applied with a brush. I've found neither of these methods to be particularly useful.

With the double boiler method, the beeswax starts to cool as soon as the brush is withdrawn from the melted solution. This makes it difficult to apply before it hardens, leading to an overly thick, uneven coating on the handle.

Using paint thinner to dissolve beeswax is also difficult, since beeswax resists melting using even the strongest paint thinners, such as Naphtha, Acetone, Turpentine and Mineral Spirits. In fact, I left some small pieces of beeswax inside jars of both Naphtha and Turpentine for over a week, and the beeswax only partially melted!

I've found a method that I believe is easier and more effective.

How to Apply Beeswax to Your Axe Handle


  • A block of beeswax (available online or in hobby/craft stores)
  • Turpentine (available at any hardware store)
  • Rubber Gloves (I am shown in the photos wearing wool gloves, since this was photographed outside in single digit temperatures for demonstration purposes. When you're actually performing this task, make sure to wear protective rubber gloves, since Turpentine is toxic)
  • Clean Rag (made of soft cotton, like a piece of common terry cloth towel found in most households).


Apply a couple of dabs of Turpentine to a clean rag:

Rub the Turpentine-soaked rag on the surface of the beeswax block a couple of times:

Rub the rag back and forth on your axe handle, covering one small area at a time. You will need to re-wet your rag with a few dabs of Turpentine and beeswax occasionally as you coat the entire handle. 

NOTE: Make sure to apply beeswax AFTER the handle has been treated with Linseed Oil, since Turpentine can dry out the wood without a Linseed Oil barrier to protect it.

Once the Turpentine evaporates from the beeswax, it will leave a thin, waterproof coating, making the handle more resistant to the elements.

SPONSOR NOTE: The Wetterlings Backcountry Axe used in this article was graciously donated to us by SportHansa in Longmont, Colorado. If you enjoyed this write-up, please show your support by visiting Sport Hansa's online store. Thank you!

About the author
Jason Schwartz is the founder and senior editor of Rocky Mountain Bushcraft. He is a former Red Cross certified Wilderness & Remote First Aid Instructor, and has taught bushcraft and wilderness survival techniques to the Boy Scouts of America, interned with the US Forest Service, and studied wilderness survival, forestry and wildland firefighting at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville, Colorado. Jason has also written for magazines such as The New Pioneer and Backpacker, including writing the "Tinder Finder" portion of Backpacker's "Complete Guide to Fire," which won a 2015 National Magazine Award (NMA). Email him at rockymountainbushcraft @ (without spaces)

No comments:

Post a Comment