Wax Coating Screws to Prevent Wood Splitting

Wax Coating Screws To Prevent Wood Splitting

When driving a wood screw into wood without a pilot hole, I like to wax my screws to help prevent splitting. I found it time consuming to sit and rub bee’s wax or candle wax on each screw, so I came up with this idea.

Wax Coating Screws To Prevent Wood SplittingTake a toilet seal wax ring (around $2.00 at any hardware store) and melt it into an empty small dog/cat food can. This way, all you have to do is dip the screw into the wax and pull it out. The threads hold on to the soft wax for a perfect coating.

Wax Coating Screws To Prevent Wood SplittingWhen the wax gets full of holes, I just set the can in my coffee cup warmer for a while and the wax melts down to a nice and flat surface for the next use. You can purchase cup warmers or candle warmers at just about any craft store.I use a plastic can lid to keep the wax from getting on anything else when I need to carry it in my toolbox.

Tip and Photos By Dan Reczek, a registered member of the WWGOA.

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30 Responses to “Wax Coating Screws to Prevent Wood Splitting”
  1. William

    This is a excellent technique. I learned about this idea years ago but forgot about it. Thanks for the reminder.

      • Étienne

        If I may, soap contains moisture that can eventualy make screws to rust and wood to stain. I prefer wax for that reason. Just my two cents.

  2. earl

    when building decks with pressure treated wood and deck screws to secure mitred corners I simply put my impact driver in reverse and with some added pressure produce a pilot hole
    seconds later I throw my drill into forward and sink my screw without any splitting

  3. Dave

    How, exactly, does waxing prevent splitting? I use wax because it prevents grabbing and seals.

    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Hi Dave. Putting wax, or soap, on a screw is mostly about lubricating the screw so it drives easier. Because it drives easier, it may also help prevent splitting. But if there’s any question it’s still best to predrill.
      Paul-Woodworkers Guild of America

      • moh clark
        moh clark

        Crafty idea for pocket hole screws, whose self-drilling feature for preventing wood splitting is vastly overrated.

    • Martin Schwartz
      Martin Schwartz

      But would not the metal food can containing the wax be a problem in a microwave?

    • Dale Ferguson
      Dale Ferguson

      Thanks Howard, I’ve used soap but wasn’t real sure about it. And it’s very time consuming.

  4. brian mcdonald
    brian mcdonald

    Soap also works. I keep a bar of soap in the shop. I use it even with pilot holes, especially in hard woods. If all else fails, spray some WD-40 on the screws. Not dso much to reduce spiting but to prevent the screw fro breaking off.

  5. Ronald Robinson
    Ronald Robinson

    WOW!!! How ingenious. I work with thin plywood for crafts. I do drill starter hoes, but this really will help.
    Thank You

  6. Dean

    I’ve always used a can of car wax, works great and smells nice. It works nice for driving those long screws win assembling cabinets. I like the idea of the mug warmer to flatten it out again👍

  7. George S Single
    George S Single

    To clean the cloth backed sanding belts for your drum sander, soak them in Simple Green it will remove all the embedded Resin and Pitch, soak a few hours or days, Brush and rinse with a Brass brush, & dry

  8. Red

    There is always the end of those big pillar candles left over after the holidays.
    These lubricate screws beautifully.

  9. Anthony Byrde
    Anthony Byrde

    I use a small drop of light machine oil (‘Three-in-One’ brand in the UK), or axle grease if leaching into the wood doesn’t matter too much. It also helps preserve the screw and allows it to be withdrawn years later without breaking.

  10. Rich Pauli
    Rich Pauli

    I wish I would have done this for some Ipe flower boxes I made. Even though I predrilled pilot holes and used self taping screws, the wood still split after a month or so. Maybe, this trick would have helped. I will try this next time and when I repair the current flower boxes. Thanks for the tip

  11. wmirion

    I always have a stick of Chap Stick in my tool apron or tool belt. Works great for coating screws, is easy, always convenient. Also works for your dry lips on a hot day ! Matt

  12. Thomas Mitchell
    Thomas Mitchell

    I use the wax rings too but I add some paraffin so it isn’t sticky. I think it was about 50%. A full wax ring will go a long way. I melt 1/2 a ring and keep adding paraffin and trying it. If it gets too hard add a little more wax ring. Then I pore it into old Rx pill bottles.
    I never used soap but like Howard I have been told it will cause rust and interfere with some finishes.

  13. Tom Overeem
    Tom Overeem

    Wax and soap works, but you can also buy coated screws, I know McFeeleys has them, Rockler might also. Avoid big box stores hardware if you are using hardwoods.

  14. Steve

    Will coating wood screws in this fashion to ease installation reduce the long term holding strength of the screw?

    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Hi Steve. Definitely a good question. I’ve never had any problems with that. When you install them this way, they do not feel loose at all.
      Paul-Woodworkers Guild of America