Jump to content

Waxing the threads

Recommended Posts

Dear all,

I was browsing my archives and I found the pictures of my first working jig.

I still remember the pride I felt  when I managed -easily- to wax the threads for my then first build.

It was used after the Bounty build with my two scratch builds and still rests in a self waiting for the next build. ( I hope).


It is a rudimentary construction based on similar jig (more refined I must admit) I found in Ship-modeling forum. Since it works, I followed the rule number one: if it works efficiently, just don't touch it!


The principle is very simple:

  • Bring to melting temperature the wax  in the small jar. This can be accomplished if you place it into boiling water (bain marie they call it)
  • Pour some boiling water in the big jar and the then emerge the small one and seal the lid.
  • Pull the string and wipe it with a rag. it is so easy.


The construction itself I think is explained in the pictures.








Current build: not decided yet.


Previous builds:

Traditional Greek vessel "Symiaki Skafi" (scratch)

Traditional Greek vessel "Perama" (scratch)

HMS Bounty (kit)


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Actually a really great idea. Now I have to build one too!

Regards, Scott


Current build: 1:75 Friesland, Mamoli


Completed builds:

1:64 Rattlesnake, Mamoli  -  1:64 HMS Bounty, Mamoli  -  1:54 Adventure, Amati  -  1:80 King of the Mississippi, AL

1:64 Blue Shadow, Mamoli  -  1:64 Leida Dutch pleasure boat, Corel  -  1:60 HMS President Mantra, Sergal


Awaiting construction:

1:89 Hermione La Fayette AL  -  1:48 Perserverance, Modelers shipyard

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My wife gave me this and I have been using it for years. She had it in her sewing kit.


Just run the line through one of the slots.  Available in the sewing section. About $1






If someone says something can't be done, it only means they can't do it.


Building:Shipyard - HMS Mercury card madel


Completed Builds:

Wood Models; AL Bluenose II 1989, Corel Toulonnaise 1995, Corel Flying Fish 2000, AL Scottish Maid 2005,

Sergal President 2010, Mamoli Beagle 2011, Corel Eagle 2013, Mamoli Constitution Cross-section 2014, Victory Cross-section 1/98 by Corel 2015, Occre San Francisco Cable Car 2018, Model Shipways Armed Long Boat 2021

Card Models

Christmas Train by PaperReplika 2012, Yamaha DSC11 Motorcycle 2013, Canon EOS 5D Mark II 2014, WWII Tiger I Tank by Paper-Replika 2014, Wrebbit Mercedes-Benz 500K Roadster 2014, Central Pacific no. 60 Jupiter card model 2015, Mirage III 1/30 converted to 1/33 card model 2017, TKpapercraft 1912 Mercer 2021


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Regarding waxing the lines, when I run the synthetic line supplied in the kit (nylon??) through the block of beeswax (as shown in bogey's post), the wax gets all flaky/dusty, and it doesn't seem like much sticks or relaxes the line enough...  Should I try melting the wax first, or is wax not the best thing for synthetic lines??


I really don't want to have to go and purchase all new lines, especially since I've already made over a hundred feet of rope with it and seized a ton of blocks!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does somebody know if it would be better to dilute melted bees wax with some diluent?

What I do, is rub the line over the side of a candle stick, and then over a flame. This melts the wax and leaves a smooth and humidity impervious surface. I ALWAYS run my rigging lines over a lighter flame to eliminate fuzz, waxed or not.

There aren't but two options: do it FAST, or do it RIGHT.


Current Project Build Log: HMS Surprise 1790. Artesania Latina 1/48

Future projects already in my stash: Panart: San Felipe 1/75; OcCre: Santísima Trinidad 1/90;

Wish List: Le Soleil Royal, 1/64 Amati Victory


So much to build, so little time!



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi, Stelios!

How did you solve the problem of excess bees wax on the threads after waxing in the liquid wax? Is wiping with a rag sufficient?

Edited by Dida

Kind regards,

Hrvoje :)


Finished: Leut by Dida

My current build: Leut II


My forum dealing with traditional Croatian and Mediterranean shipbuilding: http://drvenibrodovi.forumotion.eu.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Arrrgh, just wrote a bunch of stuff and lost it with an accidental 'page back' hit ... time to start previewing at the end of each sentence, lol.


Ok, let's try this again.  What I have discovered in my limited experience with waxing lines for rigging is as follows;


Thicker lines - best if the wax is melted into it as the run through method won't infuse the 'core' of the line with wax, thus the 'stiffening effect' won't be as pronounced.  By melting the wax into the core of the line (and squeeging the excess as much as possible) it becomes 'stiffer' so that you can achieve the 'taut line' effect without having to put a lot of tension on the line.


Thin lines - work well with the run through method.  You can also use the melted wax method but here is where getting rid of the excess becomes more important as thin lines show the excess more (flakiness, lumps, etc.).  One technique I borrowed from Batik is to have an iron set to low and a bunch of newsprint sheets.  Run the line between newsprint sheets under the iron, the weight of the iron should be enough to squeeze excess meltwax from the line and it soaks into the newsprint to prevent it from 'reapplying' itself to the line.


Synthetic lines - I've used both methods on nylon lines and found that the same principles apply, the thicker the line the better to use the meltwax method.  Another thing I did with the thin lines to 'seal' the wax was run the waxed line through a cloth pad but I applied more force and ran it fast to generate friction heat.


The type of wax is important too.  I avoid Parrafin wax (basic candle wax) because it has a low melt point, is very 'grainy' when cooled and is usually mixed in huge industrial vats with all kinds of chemicals added.  Often with cheap Parrafin you're find a high glycerin content or the traces of perfumes from a previous batch.  


Beeswax is my preferred fave because of it's 'natural' origins (not Organic, if anyone tries to sell you 'Organic' honey or beeswax at a marked up price laugh at them ... bees don't create 'organic' stuff by definition).  Beeswax also has a higher melting temperature and is finely grained, which makes it more supple when cool.  Plus it smells good (aromatherapy) and it has a nice colour which tints white lines ever so slightly.


Microcrystalline wax (a.k.a. Jeweller's wax) is also a preferred one for me.  It comes in white or dark blue - Don't use the dark blue stuff as it is formulated for sculpting jewellery 'castings'.  Microcrystalline wax has a high melting point, is (as the name implies) very fine grained and it's supple when cool, like beeswax.  This kind of wax is often used in very fine Batik work.


So to summarize, I used both methods and found them to be good - once I figured out the specifics.


Hope this is of some help. :D

Kats aka Sailcat


'Obsessive' is just another way of saying 'Dedicated.


Completed Build Log:  Dame Tisane (1/96 Revell Cutty Sark re-imagined)  



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have had good luck "waxing" lines with Wipe-on Poly (just a very thin version of polyurethane varnish).  Drop the lines into the poly, then squeeze out the excess in a paper towel or just your fingers.  This penetrates all kinds of thread. As the poly dries -- just a few minutes -- you can stick down all the fuzz with your fingers, and when the poly is fully dries, it stiffens the lines somewhat, but it remains flexible enough to tie and run through any blocks or eyes you have.

Granted this is not too practical for large amounts of line, but if you have a special need for really fuzz-less line, it works quite well.  I've never felt good about running line over a flame.

Another twist I have found is to use shoe polish, the wax kind like Kiwi, not shoe cream.  It is easy to apply as it is quite soft right from the can, but it dries quite stiff.  It comes in the right colors to maybe save the dying step.  I like to use tan on the running rigging, and dark brown on BLACK line for the standing rigging...it gives a better color than the stark blue-black of mush black thread.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I tried this. Great idea, Stelios. But I did not solve the removal the excess of the wax as good as I wanted.


On the lower side of the jar cover I put a piece of balsa wood, 5 mm thick, to remove excess of the wax. I slipped the thread through balsa wood with an needle. I did not make a hole with a drill.




Some wax was also removed outside of the jar cover:




Here are thread guides:




Finished line:



Kind regards,

Hrvoje :)


Finished: Leut by Dida

My current build: Leut II


My forum dealing with traditional Croatian and Mediterranean shipbuilding: http://drvenibrodovi.forumotion.eu.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

When looking at ways to rig, the lines are coated with wax (Normally beeswax) to enable the builder to shape the rigging, for example around a dead eye so the line stays in place prior to stropping.


I bought a block of beeswax and have run the rigging lines several times (up to 50 times through the block) through the wax but seem unable to get the same level of shaping. I have tried warming the wax before I run the thread through it.


Has anyone else had this problem?

Glenn (UK)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One question:  synthetic fibers usually do not have fuzzies and have no affinity for water, so why wax them?

NRG member 45 years



HMS Centurion 1732 - 60-gun 4th rate - Navall Timber framing

HMS Beagle 1831 refiit  10-gun brig with a small mizzen - Navall (ish) Timber framing

The U.S. Ex. Ex. 1838-1842
Flying Fish 1838  pilot schooner -  framed - ready for stern timbers
Porpose II  1836  brigantine/brig - framed - ready for hawse and stern timbers
Vincennes  1825  Sloop-of-War  -  timbers assembled, need shaping
Peacock  1828  Sloop-of -War  -  timbers ready for assembly
Sea Gull  1838  pilot schooner -  timbers ready for assembly
Relief  1835  ship - timbers ready for assembly


Portsmouth  1843  Sloop-of-War  -  timbers ready for assembly
Le Commerce de Marseilles  1788   118 cannons - framed

La Renommee 1744 Frigate - framed - ready for hawse and stern timbers


Link to comment
Share on other sites


I'm new on rigging now i going to work on my first project 

just to know why need to wax the rope?

"smooth seas do not make good sailors..."



SECOND BUILD :The concord stagecoach 1:12 youtube link : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJzCs9umWPI 

CURRENTLY BUILD : H.M.S VICTORY (Caldercraft) : http://modelshipworld.com/index.php?/topic/15501-hms-victory-by-michael101-caldercraft-scale-172/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...