Has anyone ever tried waxing their canvas straps?
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Thread: Has anyone ever tried waxing their canvas straps?

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  1. #1
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    Has anyone ever tried waxing their canvas straps?

    Redrockstraps sells a waxed version of their canvas strap. The price is about a $35usd premium over most of their other canvas straps. It got me thinking as to why you couldn't just do this yourself. I have re-waxed my Barbour jackets and a few other things, so it didn't seem to be all that complicated.

    I have a thick canvas NATO strap which seemed like a good idea when I bought it, but less of a good idea in practice. I'm not sure if I'll ever actually use it, but it seemed like a good strap to use for testing.

    I have a can of the Barbour wax on hand, but I decided against using it. In order to use it you basically melt the wax first and apply with a sponge or brush. For a watch strap I'm not sure you'd want something that is designed to penetrate that deeply. I also had some Otter Wax on hand that I've used for touch up, so I thought that might be a better option. The wax is basically the consistency of a bar of soap. Application is pretty simple. Rub the wax on with the bar, spread it around with your fingers. The heat from your fingers warms the wax and allows you to spread it evenly, so you have to keep working it around certain areas such as around metal parts, ridges, etc. Some people use a heat gun and the manufacturer says you can use one to soften the wax for more even application. I wouldn't recommend it for this since the strap is such a small area your fingers work better than anything.

    The strap darkened a shade or two as I expected. There's a few hardly noticeable areas where the wax didn't absorb evenly so they are ever so slightly lighter. I'm sure a 2nd and/or subsequent coat would fix this, but it's not a bad look for canvas anyway and you really can't tell unless you're looking for it. I don't think I'd worry about doing another coat. Functionally the results are pretty promising. Water beads on the surface much more readily and doesn't soak in nearly as fast. I would expect a treated strap to be much more impervious to dirt and grime. There's just a bit of wax smell to it. It's not at all unpleasant and you have to get your nose close to detect it. This might change under normal wear as your body heat might make the smell more noticeable, but I don't anticipate anything detrimental. As far as appearance goes it definitely gives it a different look. I wouldn't really say patina because the look is more uniform, but it definitely looks more broke in and used with just a tiny bit of a satin finish.

    At any rate if anyone has done this I'd be curious to know what the long term effects are. I might do some more experimentation with more some other unused NATOs I have.

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  2. #2
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    Re: Has anyone ever tried waxing their canvas straps?

    What is the feel like? Does it feel waxy or greasy? I like the idea of the Red Rock Straps version for water activities and even everyday sweat, but I've always wondered how it would feel on the wrist, especially on a hot day.

  3. #3
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    Re: Has anyone ever tried waxing their canvas straps?

    It definitely doesn't feel waxy or greasy. It does feel a little slicker than the non-waxed side. If you've ever owned a waxed cotton jacket, it feels exactly like that.

    I only waxed the outer side of the strap. I'm not sure you'd want to wax the inner side of the strap. I've always hit my canvas straps with a toothbrush and a bit of soap and water from time to time, especially on the inside. While you certainly could wax in the inside, I'd think it would make it harder to clean, but I have no idea. The wax might also come off on your wrist when your body heat warms it up. It would be interesting to hear from someone who owns one of the pre-waxed straps to see if they waxed the inside and how that works. I plan on waxing my Redrock strap when I receive it. I purposely bought one with a bit lighter shade than I wanted so I could wax it and it will darken up. I plan on wearing it with my Cincinnati Watch P-40M which I just received yesterday and I think it's going to get a lot of wrist time in the coming months. So I'll be able to see how well this idea works in practice.

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  5. #4
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    Re: Has anyone ever tried waxing their canvas straps?

    Will you post some pics, etc. when you do your Red Rock strap? I'm looking for something for the summer/beach besides rubber. Thanks.

  6. #5
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    Re: Has anyone ever tried waxing their canvas straps?

    So here is my Weathered Gray "Moon Dust" Canvas Redrock strap with one half treated (on the left). I did not treat the keeper, so you can see a bit of difference in the 2nd pic as well. I purposely bought a strap that was a little lighter than what I was after because I knew the waxing treatment would darken it. Other effects are it instantly gives the strap a weathered/worn appearance that I find desirable. As with the other strap I only treated the outside and as with the other strap the finished result feels a bit slicker than before, but not anything I'd find undesirable. The same goes for the smell. If you get your nose close you can detect the smell of wax, but it's not overpowering or bad in nature. Overall I'd have to say the effect is subtle, but definitely an improvement. I can see why Redrock charges a premium for waxed straps, but it can be very easily and cheaply done at home. I don't have one of their waxed straps to compare, but I can't image the effect being much different.


    shadash likes this.

  7. #6
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    Re: Has anyone ever tried waxing their canvas straps?

    Applying any form of wax / oil / water repellant etc on a strap is you run the risk of darkening the colour of the strap, sound obvious I know but beware.
    dfwcowboy likes this.
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  8. #7
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    Re: Has anyone ever tried waxing their canvas straps?

    Quote Originally Posted by WatchObsession View Post
    Applying any form of wax / oil / water repellant etc on a strap is you run the risk of darkening the colour of the strap, sound obvious I know but beware.
    In the case of the type of wax I'm using and all others I have used it's not just a risk, it's guaranteed. So I started out with a shade that was lighter than I wanted and it came out perfect.

  9. #8
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    Re: Has anyone ever tried waxing their canvas straps?

    Oh, and FYI it's really easy to get the wax to absorb with a little heat from a hair dryer.

  10. #9
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    Re: Has anyone ever tried waxing their canvas straps?

    Quote Originally Posted by JLP2 View Post
    Oh, and FYI it's really easy to get the wax to absorb with a little heat from a hair dryer.
    The manufacturer recommends using a heat gun only to make the wax workable and not to melt it into the fabric. I tried using a heat gun on my test piece and didn't really like the result so on my Redrock strap the only heat source I used was my fingers and for something as small as a strap I think that's all you really need. For some straps I don't really see the harm in melting the wax into the strap, although if you want that effect you can also use a different type of fabric wax that is designed to be heated to apply in a liquid state to penetrate deeper. This type of fabric wax is softer at room temperatures and should affect the pliability as much.

    In the case of my strap it is already relatively stiff yet pliable and I didn't want the wax making the strap more stiff than it already was.

    As a follow up here's my Redrock strap 2 months after treatment. The color is still a shade or two darker and the broke-in weathered look is still there. The smell that lasted a few days is now completely gone.


  11. #10
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    Re: Has anyone ever tried waxing their canvas straps?

    I waxed two straps using Fjallraven wax. It has the consistency of a bar of soap and it is the color of beeswax. I melted it using a double boiler method and applied by dipping the strap repeatedly into the liquid wax. I used a hair drier in between coats to make the canvas absorb the wax all the way through.

    On a moon dust strap from Red Rock, it darkened it a little bit initially, but returned to the original color after a few weeks. It got a little stiffer, and softened up again with a little wear.

    I followed the same procedure with a canvas strap from Helm. This one is thinner than the red rock strap. It also darkened and stiffened a bit, but went back to normal after a little wear. More importantly, the Helm strap shrank a bit in the process. Maybe because of the heating with the hair drier. Unfortunately, it never returned to the original length. I think the difference is that the Red Rock strap is much thicker and has more structure thank the Helm. So, it was able to withstand the heat better.

    In both cases, the waxy look only lasted for a short time. It probably wasn’t worth the effort in the end. Your mileage may vary.

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