The story of Butcher’s Bowling Alley Wax (Now just known as Bowling Alley Wax)
A craftsman in the 1880s, Charles Butcher installed inlaid parquetry wood floors in the homes of the well-to-do in Boston. He developed individual unique products composed of micro-crystalline and carnauba waxes mixed with the softening characteristics of mineral spirits to cover the wood floors, hence clear Bowling Alley Wax. The company was sold to Johnson Professional Wax in 2000, which did away with the line, but not before BWC bought the rights to sell the products under their original name. These paste waxes have a vast variety of uses, ranging from wood furnishings, marble, plaster, copper, metalwork and bronze sculptures.
Paste waxes offer a final finish coat on fine furnishings and even on some types of hardwood floors, especially high-quality hardwood floors. Some wood-workers’ prefer Butcher’s paste wax for final finishes on handmade wood cabinetry, furniture and tables. The finish is worked into the wood by rubbing it by hand in circular motions. As Butcher’s Bowling Alley Wax product’s name implies, the paste wax provides a smooth, clear finish for the inlaid wood lanes in bowling alleys.
Artists and even the U.S. government use a version of Butcher’s paste wax to coat outdoor bronze sculptures and bronze or metal architectural embellishments coated with an acrylic resin overlay. The government provides specific procedures as to how to care for these items by applying the paste wax at least annually to preserve the life of the acrylic coating. Butcher’s wax also works on musical instruments, leather and antiques.
Butcher’s clear paste wax is also applied as the final finish over Venetian plaster to help it retain its glazed appearance, give it a good sheen and provide a seal-coat finish over it. The paste wax is also used as a final coating for marble to prevent etching that can occur on its soft, porous surface. The paste wax creates a finish coat that must be applied regularly. When kept waxed, the finish beads water or other liquids on its surface, protecting the material beneath.
Bowling Alley (Clear Paste) Wax has been made from the same time-honored recipe for over 100 years. Due to its high quality, it is the choice of Hardwood Floor Refinishers, Furniture Makers, Architects, Museum Curators and Artists Nationwide!
Polish with Bowling Alley Wax
Normal wear and tear on wood furniture can cause the surface to become dull and dingy. Time, heat and light can age the finish of a piece of furniture even if it’s well taken care of. Before purchasing a furniture stripper to remove the old finish completely, try Bowling Alley Wax:
It can bring new life to an aged and dull finish. Paste wax fills tiny scratches to restore shine. It also protects the piece from future wear. Wax stays on the piece much longer, until it is either washed off or worn away.
1. Gently wash the wood surface with a mild soap and water solution and allow to dry. Place a small amount of Bowling Alley Wax in the middle of an oil free 0000 steel wool (a clean soft cloth will also work but it absorbs wax and does not spread as evenly). Rub the wax-filled Wool or cloth on the surface in small areas (figure A). Using this method controls the amount of wax placed on the furniture.
2. Allow the wax to haze over, approximately 5-10 minutes and then gently wipe off the excess with a soft clean cloth. If you can streak the surface with a finger, the excess isn’t removed. When you think it’s done, buff with still another clean cloth. Make sure not to wait too long to remove the wax as it will become harder to do so. On larger surfaces such as Wood Floors, an electric buffer can be uses with a clean buffing pad.
3. Apply another coat. It will fill any gaps in the first layer and add a beautiful shine to the piece.
4. To keep the shine up, don’t use furniture polish over the wax. Clean with a feather duster or damp rag. Repeat the waxing process when it becomes dull again.
Protecting Metal with Bowling Alley Wax
We constantly get asked about the use of Bowling Alley Wax on Metals such as Steel, Bronze, Copper and more.
Popular Science printed a great article on how to protect Metal. It can be found at:
The New England Sculptors Association Recommend Bowling Alley Wax for annual application on outdoor sculptures:
The Texas Historical Commission also wrote a great paper on using Bowling Alley Wax for Statue preservation:
Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission article on protecting Ancient Iron, Bronze and Zinc Grave Markers:
National Park Service give us maybe too much detail on how to care for Bronze Plaques using Bowling Alley Wax:
OK, One more Outdoor Sculpture Care from Williamstown Art Conservation Center:
What happened to Butcher’s Wax?
Many shed tears the day Butcher’s parent company decided to do away with this 135 year old product.
Bowling Alley (clear), Boston Polish (amber) and New England (brown) Paste Waxes have been relied on for decades.
Known for its stunning shine and durable finish, these products have been used by homeowners for Floors, Furniture, Cabinets, Leather and Antiquities. Businesses have trusted these waxes for Mold Release, Lubrication and protection of their products and Machinery.
This wonderful product is now back on the market, less the “Butcher” name.