How to remove a wax finish?


January 27, 2012, 08:56 PM
I refinished my Mosin stock last year. I stripped it bare, lightly sanded it smooth, and stained it. So far so good. When it came to the finish, I decided to try a paste furniture wax. This was my first serious wood working project (and you can laugh at this all you want), and I know how to wax a car, so I figured this is something familiar.

So I put the wax on and buffed by hand. Three coats. It has a basic sheen, but nothing flashy. Just what I wanted, it looks good. But it doesn't feel right in my hands. In fact, it's almost a little tacky. I've let it sit for several months and it hasn't hardened.

So now I am thinking I should just take the wax off and put a plain polycoat on it. So the question is, how do I get the wax off without stripping the stain?

If you enjoyed reading about "How to remove a wax finish?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
January 27, 2012, 09:09 PM
You don't.
It is down in the grain with the stain, and anything that will take the wax off will take the stain off.

I'd sand it and start over again.


Shadow 7D
January 27, 2012, 09:18 PM
Yeah, what he said
you can try something like stripper and or solvent
but that will also lift the stain, unless you want that too
otherwise you find something that can be applied over the current finish
after you sand it smooth.

You can try a penetrating oil type finish like tung or danish oil and see if it will build up the finish you want.

January 28, 2012, 01:19 AM
I was afraid of that. :/ Stripping a stock on a third floor apartment balcony with no hose was a big big project.

So I guess the question I would ask now, is how to make the wax finish better? Is there anything to be done to harden it? Let it sit in the sun, or anything else?

Shadow 7D
January 28, 2012, 01:22 AM
Go get some Tung oil, or just pledge if you're cheap and lazy...
you will end up with the wax finish feel, or even try car wax, another option is to heat the stock until the wax goes away, you either vaporize it or drive it in further.

January 28, 2012, 02:10 AM
Brownell's sells a product called CertiStrip-it will take an epoxy-finished Remington stock to bare wood in one coat! Use it, sand/steelwool your stock to your satisfaction and then use some Birchwood-Casey products to finish your stock. They have an oil finish product and a Stock Sheen and Conditioner that will given you the finish your seek. I have refinished several stocks like this with excellent results. While the wood is bare-your local paint store has many great wood stains that will give your stock a custom color. I redid a Bishop stock on a Mauser 98 30-06 I bought in 1970 that way-use 3 wood stain colors-grey/green/brown mottled pattern then the B/C Stock Sheen and have never seen a Spec-Op Camo stock paint job better that that!

January 28, 2012, 03:43 AM
Something I might try if I were in your situation would be trying to get rid of some of the wax by gently heating the stock and wiping it-- like removing cosmoline-- then putting a few coats of dewaxed shellac on it. I'd either add some denatured alcohol to to the shellac, or maybe rub the stock down with it if it wont mess up the stain.

The theory I'm operating under is that reg shellac has some wax in it, and hopefully the dewaxed will take up what ever wax is still left and harden (the extra denatured alcohol is to help the wax dissolve). I dont know if you'd end up with a nice result or a mess since I don't know if the paste wax will work with the shellac like that, but if you have to strip the stock anyway it cant hurt.

January 28, 2012, 01:36 PM
Try this first:

I think the reason the wax stayed tacky is due to old oil / cosmolene still seeping out of the wood.

Or, it coud be from the oil stain you used.
That stuff doesn't ever completely dry.


January 29, 2012, 11:16 AM
I just used regular Minwax stain (and their prestain) if that makes a difference. Think I read after using it that it is somehow different from regular stain.

January 29, 2012, 11:50 AM

January 30, 2012, 11:44 AM
Ammonia strips wax. Try rubbing a rag moistened with it to remove the wax at the surface. If you soak it, it will raise the grain a bit and require some sanding.

January 30, 2012, 12:01 PM
Got a bath tub? Get some Purple Power cleaner and spray it down with that. It'll take it back to bare wood and you'll have to start over with your refinishing, but it'll also get out any remaining grease and oils in the wood. I use either PP or Dawn Power Dissolver and both work great at stripping off any old finishes and crud, including cosmoline.

Soak it good, scrub with brushes, rinse with hot water, wash again with dish soap and hot water, rinse with clean cool water, towel dry, then let air dry for a few days. Put the stock in a nice, sunny window or even near a space heater, but don't get it so hot that it dries the wood completely.

Then sand lightly as needed and refinish however you want. There's only a hundred different ways to go, but I prefer Fairtrimmer's Military oX for a base, then a few coats of 100% Pure Tung Oil, and finish off with Tom's 1/3 Military Stock Wax. Makes for beautiful and happy wood. I also leave all the dents, gouges and scratches, that rifle earned those scars.

January 30, 2012, 09:40 PM
If you really want to get rid of only the wax, mineral spirits will eat it.

stan rose
February 1, 2012, 04:08 PM
Take some tung oil and #0000 steel wool, apply gently in overlapping circles, wait 30 min. wipe of excess wait 24hrs. repeat. Do this for a week, if your finish is not improved I don't know if it can be.

If you enjoyed reading about "How to remove a wax finish?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!