This post contains affiliate links with Amazon. Almost all the items are listed with small business PMC Supplies. Items purchased through these links support both Metalsmith Society + PMC Supplies.
For many of us right now working in our studio may not be an option due to shelter-in-place orders or social distancing. Wax carving is an awesome and inexpensive way we can continue to work! I created a list of items in my Amazon Storefront, some essential tools for carving wax at home, some of which you may already have! To reiterate, I always try to promote items from small business jewelry tool suppliers whenever I link to Amazon.
Creative Wax Carving: A Modern Approach to an Ancient Craft with 15 Jewelry Projects by Emilie Shapiro
If you have never done any wax carving all you need is this book! Even after having ten years of experience under my belt I found this book had a bunch of neat tricks and tips I'd never considered. It also has a bunch of fun project ideas!
You will need some wax to carve! Wax comes in many different shapes and colors. For those curious about the difference between the colors this is from the manufacturer's website: "Green: A very hard wax, it can't be flexed. Ideal for sharp edges and for intricate carvings and delicate engraving. Purple: General purpose, hard with some flexibility. Blue: Less hard and more flexible than green or purple." I like this set because of the variety of shapes and thicknesses.
Wooden Bench Pin with V-Slot and Clamp
8" Double Ended Half Round Wax File
If you plan to get into wax carving a wax file like this is essential. This is the file you will use to quickly shape and remove material.
Set of 6 Wax Work Files for Cutting Carving Wax
It's nice to have some smaller files that can fit into smaller areas. These being wax files are pretty aggresive and won't give you super refined surfaces but helpful to have in your toolbox!
Sandpaper is fantastic for wax work, especially some of those heavier grits. This set comes with 3 sheets of each grit: 120/220/320/400/600/800/1000/1200/1500/2000/2500/3000.
German Saw Frame With Saw Blades
Wax carvings often require cutting the wax with our saws. They make special saw blades that are spiraled for wax work but honestly you can use regular saw blades, just make sure you use bigger ones like sizes 1-8. They often provide more control but they take longer to cut than the spiral ones.
Alcohol Glass Burner Lamp
I learned on one of these lamps. For the best flame, use methyl alcohol fuel. Replacement wicks are available. You then use this lamp to heat steel dental tools or wax carving tools. With those tools heated up you can add balls, shape things, attach pieces etc.
Wax Carving Tools
You can use ones like this with your alcohol lamp! They are made out of steel.
Battery Operated Wax Pen
Wax pens are SO helpful for wax work and if you aren't ready to invest in a plug in model you can get a battery operated style.
Foredom Wax Carver
This is an investment but SO worth it if you are serious about wax carving. I love mine and have used it and taught with it for years! Love that is has variable heat settings and different tips.
Wolf Relief Wax
Lastly I have to mention this GAME CHANGING relief wax. You use this hard red wax to attach pieces, create balls and prongs. It is awesome. i dip my wax pen right into this and it's awesome!
Excel Blades Self Healing Mat
This is a great surface to do wax work on! Especially cutting thinner wax sheets with an Exacto knife. I love the measurements and also find it's a great surface to generally have in my studio when working with metal as well.
Your flex shaft is one of your best wax working tools if you do have access to one. You can use sandpaper in a split mandrel to smooth the inside of wax rings. You can use small ball burs (1mm) to grind details and hollow things out. There are also aggressive wax burs you can purchase that will rapidly remove material.