It’s not often that a single product brand manages to make its way into every single wood shop, but Johnson’s Paste Wax was one of those. The ubiquitous yellow tin of paste wax has been a constant for decades. Sitting on dusty shelves or in the back of shop cabinets, just waiting for its once-a-year chance to shine…literally.
I have an old tin of Johnson’s in my shop that is still half full after nearly a decade of use. And it feels like every time I need it; I have to root through my cabinets as it has inevitably made its way to the very back since I last used it.
There really is no better feeling than pulling it out and applying a fresh coat of wax to all your cast iron surfaces in the shop. I waxed up my lathe bed the other day and almost flung the tailstock clear off the end of the lathe the next time I slid it! It turns out it had been a while since I last waxed the bed!
But now, on to the sad news for those whose who finally finished up the last of their tin of paste wax.
Has Johnson Paste Wax been Discontinued?
As of the end of 2021, Johnson paste wax was officially discontinued.
It was one of those moments that no one noticed until you stopped by the hardware store looking for a new tin, and suddenly, it just wasn’t there.
As far as I have found, there wasn’t a press release or reasoning behind the discontinuation other than the official line from Johnson’s sent to those who asked directly, “it has been discontinued.”
Johnson Paste Wax Alternatives
Luckily, several Johnson Paste Wax alternatives are on the market. And one of them even comes in a nice yellow tin to keep that continuity going forward for (hopefully) decades to come.
Minwax Paste Finishing Wax
Minwax paste wax is the best and easiest to find alternative to Johnson Paste Wax. While the price is slightly higher than what Johnson paste was used to sell for, $15 for Minwax vs $8 – $10 for Johnson’s, it is still the cheapest option.
I looked around at most of the major home improvement stores in my area, and they all have Minwax paste wax in stock, so it is readily available.
It even comes in a nice yellow tin, so when you look for your paste wax in the back of a shop cabinet, it will be just like old times looking for Johson paste wax.
When you pick some up, be sure to check that you’re getting natural and not the brown-tinted wax. The brown tint is great for flooring but not so much for your table saw top!
Trewax Paste Wax
Trewax is another popular Johnson paste wax alternative, especially for our woodworking friends north of the border.
This is similarly priced to Minwax, although it can be a little more difficult to find in-store. Ace Hardware looks to be the leading stateside distributor for Trewax paste wax. It is also readily available online as well.
This wax protects your cast iron surfaces well and has much less odor than Johnson paste wax, which is a nice touch.
Boeshield Waterproof Lubrication
Unlike the first two options, Boeshielf is not a paste wax but an aerosol-based lubricant (think WD-40). If you previously used Johnson paste wax primarily to protect and improve glide on your cast iron tools, then Boeshield is an excellent alternative.
I use this product in my shop along with Johnson Paste wax, and I feel the performance is very similar to what I get with a freshly waxed surface with Johnson’s.
My favorite use for Boeshield is to get into hard-to-reach areas and miter gauge slots where paste wax would otherwise build up.
Uses for Johnson Paste Wax in the Shop
There are two primary uses for paste wax in the shop.
The first is to protect the cast iron surfaces of your tools. Anyone who lives in a humid climate or has made the mistake of putting a cold drink down on your table saw bed knows surface rust can show up on unprotected cast iron very, very quickly. Although this rust is primarily cosmetic and can be easily removed, it’s still easier to get ahead of it rather than scrub it off with steel wool later.
Rubbing a thin layer of paste wax on the cast iron surfaces of your table saw, jointer, lathe bed, etc., will help inhibit rust and make the surfaces easier to clean if glue, finish, etc., spill onto them.
The second benefit is how much smoother everything will glide across your tool surfaces after a fresh waxing. If you haven’t waxed your tool beds in a long time, it’s amazing how much easier it is to slide the tool rest or tail stock on the lathe or push lumber through the table saw.
These benefits work not only for the large power tools in your shop but also for hand planes and other small tools you want to protect.
Derek grew up woodworking in his father’s shop and has since gone on to start up a successful woodworking business on Etsy. In his spare time, you can find him mountain biking, skiing, or writing.