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Thread: Waxing Wood Tripod Legs

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Apr 2004

    Waxing Wood Tripod Legs

    Got my second well-used, sun bleached and worn Zone VI tripod recently (the first is dedicated to one camera) and got it quite wet right away.

    The swollen wood surface is causing difficulty when opening and closing. I used fine steel wool to smooth the binding leg surfaces. Consider it now unfinished. It is still not good enough, and besides I want to protect the area in question because I'll be leaving the tripod outdoors with only modest protection for a few weeks, possibly much longer. (The rotted strap and rope has already been replaced with nylon versions.)

    Should I wax it? I have a can old old fashion Simonize that I used on a wood floor, but floors don't stand in the sun and rain. Should I abandon the old fashion and use an epoxy finish? I need something that won't become sticky or bind up in the elements.

    Thank you in advance

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Westport Island, Maine

    Waxing Wood Tripod Legs

    "Fine Woodworking" magazine had a recent article on wood finishes and moisture protection. Wax gives nearly zero protection. Nevertheless, wax will probably make your tripod legs work more smoothly in humid weather, and so I'd go ahead and do it. I do. Simonize is fine, as are any of the woodworking waxes. Two thin coats may be a bit better than one.
    Bruce Barlow
    author of "Finely Focused" and "More Finely Focused."

  3. #3
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    brooklyn, nyc

    Waxing Wood Tripod Legs

    I've used regular butcher's wax on mine .. it works fine. before I got that I rubbed parafin on. That seemed to work just as well. I never had problems with moisture. I used the wax as a lube.

  4. #4

    Waxing Wood Tripod Legs

    I've also ready the "Fine Woodworking" article about wipe-on finishes and I'll give you my opinion based on some furniture that I've built (although that has nothing to do with cameras)

    I'd go get a bottle of the Minwax Wipe-On Poly and give the tripod two quick coats (it really is fast and easy stuff to work with, you just get a rag wet with it, wipe it on, and then wipe off any extra). That should give you a nice finish to protect the wood. Then I'd use furniture or floor wax to go over the poly. It'll protect a little bit more and will also lubricate the sliding parts.

    I have a table that I finished this way and it's be extremely resistant to cat scratches from the kitties running over the top. Of course, since it's the table the TV is on it hasn't really had to face any water.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    Waxing Wood Tripod Legs

    The "leaving outside" part is the trouble. Wax just won't suffice alone in that kind of beating. But it will add to the protection of a finish under it. But don't wax it and then try to finish it - the finish won't stick.

    The epoxy might be good. I have never used it, so I just don't know. But it may be tougher than traditional finishes.

    Polyurethane will withstand a lot of abrasion on interior wood floors. But ultraviolet from sunlight tears it up. No good, for example, on lawn furniture.

    Best thing for boats is spar varnish. Special additives to withstand sunlight. It is also soft and flexible enough to move with the wood when it swells and shrinks with moisture. (That's why sailors wear soft-soled deck shoes.) Brittle finishes will crack.

    As a woodworker, I would go with wax over spar varnish as the time-tested classic finish. Hardware store paste floor wax like Butchers or Johnsons will work. But being a perfectionist, I would use a furniture wax like Briwax from England. Here is an honest web dealer I have used often:

    Also, check out their bronze wool which will not leave steel wool splinters behind to rust and later stain your job. Cheap insurance.

  6. #6
    matthew blais's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Riverside, CA

    Waxing Wood Tripod Legs

    Tung oil and wax. The oil soaks INTO the wood, not on top as a varnish essentially does. I then use a French paste wax I have that was fairly expensive. 2-3 coats. Johnsons' paste wax will do. I did my old Ries Hollywood this way.
    Water still beads up on it.

    DO not use floor wax.

    An occasional wipe with Pledge or Howard's Feed 'N Wax to keep it maintained.
    "I invent nothing, I rediscover"
    August Rodin

    My Now old Photo Site
    500 5x8 Designed and Printed Special Postcard Deal for you!

  7. #7

    Waxing Wood Tripod Legs

    I agree with Mathew. I have used Tung Oil for years for finishing furniture. It is the most waterproof of all the oils. I know I don't have to worry about putting a wet cup or glass on the surface. I give about eight to ten coats to start and then a couple of times a year.


  8. #8

    Waxing Wood Tripod Legs

    I would also agree about the tung oil. As for the sticking legs,I have used beeswax for wooden surfaces that slide against each other. On old dressers and desks with wooden drawers rub a chunk of beeswax on the two mating surfaces and your drawers will not stick. I assume this would work the same on the interior leg surfaces of your Ries. This would only be to keep the surfaces from sticking not for weather protection. The beeswax may offer some weather proofing but I have not tried it. Find a local beekeper or honey seller and they will have beeswax.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Oct 1997

    Waxing Wood Tripod Legs

    Whatever you do, don't use Bikini Wax & then try to come to Utah. Cities with Bikini wax places are having picketing problems in front of the stores (they are EVIL and a Bad Influence, per the picketers)

    If you come here with a Bikini Waxed tripod you won't get much LF photography done with all those folks picketing around you.

  10. #10

    Waxing Wood Tripod Legs

    I used Watco Danish oil on mine and is seems to be doing very well. It doesn't swell/shrink very much and any water seems to just bead up. I don't know how this would do in the sun for a long period though.

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