I can still smell the waxed canvas from our dad’s hunting gear all these years later — that was my first memory of this now familiar fabric. When my brother and I started Billykirk, I think we both knew we would be using this durable canvas even before we made the first pouch.
We introduced waxed canvas to our collection in 2003, and it hasn’t left our line since. Its versatility and water-resistant characteristics make it ideal for many of our bags and pouches. But, like anything worth its salt, waxed canvas requires upkeep in order for it to perform at its best.
Over time, the wax will wear off on the parts of the canvas that get the most use. These areas may be lighter in color or shiny. A good rewaxing is ideally done once a year. If your bag is in the elements often, twice a year may be more appropriate.
The re-waxing process will take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and half.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Billykirk Canvas Refinishing Wax, specially formulated for Billykirk bags
- 2 sponges or lint-free cloths
- ~1 cup water
- A glass bowl big enough to hold the tin of wax (and one that you don’t mind getting wax on)
- Hair dryer
- Heat source (stove or hot plate)
- Blue painter’s tape (if your bag has webbing or leather that needs to be covered)
Here are the steps you can take to re-wax your canvas bag:
- Tape the bag
If your bag has webbing or leather, you’re going to want to cover it with painter’s tape to prevent wax from getting on it. I prefer painter’s tape over masking tape because it’s less aggressive than masking tape and won’t damage your bag. If you can, apply the tape so that it aligns with the width of the webbing or leather so that it doesn’t cover up any of the canvas.
- Clean the bag
This is an important step. Before applying the wax, you’ll want to clean the bag with a damp sponge or lint-free cloth. (An old cotton T-shirt would also work quite well.) Just dip the sponge or lint-free cloth in water, squeeze out the excess water, and wipe down your bag. If you skip this step, the dirt or lint on the bag will be sealed under your fresh coat of wax. Once you’ve cleaned the bag, set it aside to dry.
- Heat the wax
While the bag is drying, now it’s time to heat up the wax. First, fill the glass bowl with water so that it reaches about a quarter of the way up the bowl. Then, place the tin of wax (with the lid removed) into the bowl without getting water into the wax. (Pour out some of the water if that happens). Then, put the glass bowl into a pot on the heat source and turn it to the medium/low setting so that the water heats up slowly and melts the wax. Once the wax is clear, you’ll want to maintain that temperature so that the wax doesn’t harden. Be careful not to put the heat too high, as the tin of wax will jostle and spill out into your bowl.
- Wax the bag
Now to the fun part. Once the wax runs clear, take the second sponge (or lint-free cloth) and dip it into the tin of wax. Start spreading the wax evenly on the bag, making sure to cover the entire bag. Don’t be alarmed if you get more wax in some areas; the hair dryer will help spread it out evenly. If there’s a pocket on the bag, try and get inside the pocket. If there are parts of your bag that get more wear or are exposed to the elements more than others, make sure they are adequately covered. As long as the wax stays clear, this process should be pretty quick.
- Dry the bag
With the hair dryer on the low setting, dry the bag in long, sweeping motions. Do not focus on a single area for too long. Using a low setting will help permeate the wax into the weave of the canvas and accelerate the drying time (allowing you to use your bag sooner).
- Hang the bag overnight
In my experience, it’s best to allow the bag to dry overnight. It shouldn’t feel tacky when you’re ready to use it again. So, if you notice some areas that are still wet or oversaturated with wax, go ahead and hit them with the hair dryer again. That should do the trick.
That wraps it up! Your bag should be all set for whatever adventures you take it on. Click here to watch a full video of the re-waxing process.