How to Wax a Shirt

With Otter Wax and a little elbow grease, a DIY wax-canvas shirt is within reach.
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Apr 15, 2014 | By HB HQ

Waxed-Canvas jackets are element-ready garments—tough and rugged, water-proof, and damn good looking. Offering superior  rain, sleet, snow, and dirt protection, they also bring a unique look and natural wear patterns similar to another one of our burly favorites: selvedge denim. Only problem? They often come with a heavy price tag.

We have a solution—a DIY project that will have you in a waxed-canvas in no time.

Step 1: Grab a Canvas Shirt

Canvas is the best fabric to try this with. The natural tendencies and coarse stitching of the fabric works well with the wax and provides the necessary waterproofing (and look) you're aiming for.

Step 2: Grab some Otter Wax

Handmade in Portland, Otter Wax is our wax of choice for this endeavor. Made of all-natural ingredients (beeswax and flower oil), the wax provides long lasting protection from the elements. It can also be applied to any other canvas product (shoes, hats, backpacks, jackets).

Step 3: Apply a thick, even layer of wax

Applying the wax to the canvas requires a bit of elbow grease. We recommend a feverous application to an isolated area and then spreading out the wax with your fingers. The faster you rub wax to canvas, the warmer the wax will get, which makes application easier. It’s gunna’ take some time, but the commitment it worth it.

Step 4: Work the wax in with your fingers

The initial application of the wax will leave you with clumps, which can be easily smoothed out using your fingers. Applying pressure to the fabric and spreading out the clumps provides even coverage. You will notice a big difference in the quality of the waterproofing and the look of the canvas after this step.

Step 5: Add extra wax to the shoulders and pockets of your shirt

In applying the wax to your shirt, you are trusting it will be able to better handle the elements. As an extra safety measure, we recommended adding more wax to the areas that get the most exposure (shoulders, chest pockets).

Step 6: Let the wax settle to the fabric

Once you feel you have an even cover of wax on the canvas, let it rest. Set it in a cool, dry place overnight to let it settle into the canvas.

Step 7: Check your waterproofing

The last thing you want to happen is get outside and find spots that could have used a little more attention. Take a cup of water and apply it the shirt. If the water rolls and beads, you’ve done it right!

Now get out there and rock that elbow grease, DIY new shirt—you've earned it. Wear it proud.

Otter Wax is available for sale in our General Store

Images ©: Huckberry.