To say that it’s been a long harsh winter in Upstate New York would be an understatement! But spring appears to finally be in the air and it’s time to pack up our winter gear and get our spring coats on. It’s also time to put a new coat on the bench.

My recipe for a good coat is a tried and tested blend of Bees wax, Gum turpentine and Boiled Linseed Oil:

60gm of bees wax
0.5 lts of gum turpentine
boiled lindseed Oil (BLO)

Pour the gum turpentine into a large glass bottle and shave the bees wax into the gum turpentine – I use a large cheese grater — cover until the wax is dissolved into a butter-like consistency.

Then add an equal volume of BLO and stir until the mixture is combined into a thick liquid.  This litre mix is enough for several years.


First scrap off some of the old wax using a cabinet scraper.

Wipe the blend over your workbench (but not the vice jaws), legs need a good waxing also and don’t forget the underside. Allow the wax to be absorbed into the wood for an hour or two – remove the excess. Allow the finish to cure for a few days and then buff to a soft shine.

It might look very slippery, but the wax create some resistance and your bench will resist glue and stain.

The aroma from the finish is quite pleasant.

This finish, or something very close to this finish, was most probably used on most of the surviving 18th and 19th century work benches.

I read about an old Italian Woodworker’s rule: Apply the finish once a day for a week, once a week for a month, once a month for a year, and once a year for a lifetime.

My bench is almost 5 years old and so the annual putting on the new coat is now a tradition, and so much more pleasant than rummaging around in the attic looking for spring clothes.