Thursday, July 19, 2012


It's your beeswax -- or it should be.I was reminded of this useful substance just yesterday, when making some changes to the short end of my 40 Windom. I added a cleat for the line holding the feedpoint insulator and a screweye and a cleat for the far end of the short section, both of them in different 7'-tall 4X4 fence posts.

It's still dreadfully hot, so I was cheating, using a battery-powered drill to predrill for and drive the screws. Spinning home the first 2" #10 woodscrew, I found it was taking excessive torque. The driver bit was "camming out" of the screw head, to the detriment of both.

What to do, what to do... Then I remembered the bar of beeswax in the kitchen, purchased for just this problem. With a generous amount of the wax scrubbed into the screw threads, they sank almost too easily. Even driving the 5/16" screweye with a heavy screwdriver through the loop, it went in fast and easy.

Some old texts suggest using bar soap to lubricate screws, but soap will draw moisture and rust the screw. Beeswax is just the ticket -- it works nicely on saw blades, too. Best to store it tightly wrapped up in waxed paper, to keep it from drying out.

(Note to myself: I need to tie actual cleat hitches in the lines! Multiple figure-8s will do for awhile but a real knot is better.)


  1. When I saw "beeswax" I thought you were going to say it make embroidery floss much easier to thread through the eye of a needle. Then I remembered whose blog this is. (grin)

    I've used soap for that purpose before, but I didn't know it would attract moisture. I wonder if paraffin might work.

  2. I don't know about paraffin. Beeswax is easy to come by and it works fine.

  3. Beeswax is great stuff with many uses and probably many now forgotten.

    An elderly neighbor of ours, likely born shortly after the Civil War, chewed pieces of honeycomb to aleviate headaches and said the wax cleaned her teeth as she chewed. Don't know if the claims were accurate but the last time I saw this tiny old lady she was over 90 and had all her teeth.

    My grandfather, a master tool maker, rubbed beeswax candle stubs on his handsaws and plane soles to make them glide through the wood better. Something I should remember as I start using my hand tools more in retirement.

    I run fly-tying thread across beeswax to help the thread stay in place on the hook and to better hold dubbing where needed.

    Beeswax is the primary ingredient in the best black powder bullet lube I've used. I mostly use Lee's Liquid Alox as a bullet lube these days but the old beeswax formula works great with the felt wads I make to use between powder and bullet in cap and ball revolvers and black powder cartridges. Fouling is even and minimized, allowing more shots between swabbing.

    Sorry for the long post but the topic brought back memories.

    You've got me thinking. I should do a search on uses of beeswax in colonial and early American times.

    Jeff The Bear

  4. Beeswax dissolved in turpentine is one of the more common old-time wood finishes, and goes 'way back. I've never tried it; some day I shall.

    In leatherworking, beeswax is an essential ingredient for sewing; the thread is waxed, and even more wax is used to make a nice, secure, tapered connection between the thread and the needle. (There's a trick to it -- the needle gets looped back through the thread.) I think they use something stickier to attach the thread for sewing through curved holes with a hog bristle. (And a curved stab awl, of course.)

    I usually buy a medium to large cake of beeswax at the apiarist's booths at the Indiana State Fair: the price is right and it's the pure quill. The main one in my shop is like 6" x 9" x 1.5"; the little stick-of-butter sized one was just one I had in the kitchen for rubbing on sticky drawer slides.

    It's handy stuff.

  5. In the Air Force as a machinist I had to drill a lot of tiny safety wire holes often in stainless steel. Drilling into a cake of beeswax before starting was always helpful. I need to search back through your wonderful site to find that electric clockwork keyer you posted about. Sure is fun to browse your blog. Very best of 73 de Tom, AB9NZ

  6. Such praise! Thank you. I enjoy your blog, too.