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DIY waxed canvas bag (Domke alternative)

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by DeeJayK, Feb 1, 2013.

  1. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Allen Mowery has an interesting blog post explaining how to apply a waxing treatment to a standard canvas messenger bag. This treatment gives a degree of water impermeability to any bag. The process looks relatively simple.

    Basically, the formula is:

    cheap canvas messenger bag + camera insert + waxing treatment = $150 Domke bag

    This post really got me thinking and inspired a little bit of searching for raw materials. Here's what I found:

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    250>Vintage Canvas Medic Bag for $10.99

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    250>Ape Case ACQB39 Cubeze insert for $24.04

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    250>1-lb Parraffin wax for $7.37

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    250>1-lb Pure Yellow Beeswax for $10.99

    So basically, with just an hour or so of effort I can craft a one-of-a-kind waterproof(-ish) bag for just over $50. As noted in the video, the use of the beeswax may be omitted if you choose, which brings the price down further.

    BTW, here's another product that purports to do the same thing without the hassle of melting the wax. I don't have any experience with is, so I can't make any claims to how well it might work.
    http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0046/6272/products/otterwax-waterproofing_1024x1024.jpg?2644" width=250>
    Denim & Canvas Waterproofing Wax[/URL]
    • Like Like x 4
  2. kick.push

    kick.push New to Mu-43

    Nov 26, 2012
    haha.. actually I waxed my domke bag last week with a similar self-made wax mix of bees wax and parrafin. worked very well. BUT: be careful with the heatgun or hairdryer and the velcro. If you scorch the soft velcro part, it loses its adhesive power.. I scorched mine.. in the beginning I was very annoyed and angry with myself. But I noticed that the velcro was very strong before and I actually prefer how it is now.
  3. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I bet this has the potential to be better than the Ruggedwear Domke.

    I have one... the material is very thin compared to other Domke products not really canvas. With this... you get to choose a good strong canvas bag AND wax it.

    Thanks for posting.
  4. Cruzan80

    Cruzan80 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Denver, Co
    Sean Rastsmith
    I would definately use beeswax along with the paraffin. Otherwise, the melting point could be too low for your trunk in the summer!
    • Like Like x 1
  5. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    A great project, thanks! I already have plenty of bags (my wife reminds me frequently!) But I think I'll try the otter wax on my favorite hat, make it a bit more waterproof. :biggrin:
  6. AceAceBaby

    AceAceBaby Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jan 21, 2013
    I use an Ape Case insert with a small (10"x10"X4") canvas messenger bag for my kit. I am still pondering the waxing- the insert is waterproof if you close it up fully.
  7. savvy

    savvy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 28, 2012
    S.Yorkshire, UK
    I don't have a waxed bag, but I used to have a waxed jacket a long time ago, and it would leave "smears" on my phone if it touched it.

    Isn't there the danger of getting this on your camera gear, or is the waxing better these days?
  8. Cruzan80

    Cruzan80 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Denver, Co
    Sean Rastsmith
    If done correctly, canvas and leather that have been waxed are dry to the touch, and don't really have any kind of "residue". However, occasional buffing at the end may be required.
  9. spinyman

    spinyman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 19, 2010
    San Diego
    My bag is a cheap canvas messenger.No wax needed in sunny SoCal.For my insert,I got a thrift store camera bag and cut it down.Total cost..$15.00.
  10. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    This is a very good point, and likely the very reason why it's recommended to use a mix of paraffin and beeswax. I hadn't really thought about what that reason might be until seeing your post.

    Your post prompted me to do a little more digging which turned up this very detailed waxing tutorial. While it doesn't provide much new information the author makes a strong point that using a clothes dryer in the way described in the original post can (will?) leave a wax residue on the drum. He recommends finding a dryer that you can devote to this process. While that probably doesn't makes sense for a one-off, it's definitely a potential downside that you should consider before shoving your newly waxed bag in your new clothes dryer.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2015
  11. m1pui

    m1pui Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 30, 2010
    Sunderland, UK
    You could also use a water repellent spray and protect any bag you like.

    I've coated a few things in G-Techniq i1 and it works great. Mainly my work shoes and a Crumpler Jimmy Bo and water just sheets off, even when I tested it directly under the tap. I probably wouldn't want to stick it under a tap when my bag was full of gear, but it certainly works a treat in heavy showers when I've been out and about.

    Interior Coatings // G|Techniq

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  12. Cruzan80

    Cruzan80 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Denver, Co
    Sean Rastsmith
    The original recipe probably recommended the paraffin as a cheaper way to get the same effect. Pure beeswax would be just as effective, and have a higher melting point. I am not sure why this second person is so worried about the oven. Just set it on warm, or the lowest thing you can. If using leather, the key temperature is 168 deg (usually you are safe at about 180-200 setting). You need to stay under that, or the leather will start to polymerize the wax and it ends up much harder than you need it to be. I always supported the model on wooden furring strips on a cookie sheet, to have an even heat transfer (no metal scorching). Take a rag of some kind and start buffing it. I would probably do this for an hour or so, swapping it out when it gets too much residue. When needed, you can then simply heat up a small tin of beeswax, and slowly buff it in (old shoe polish containers work great.

    This should result in a perfectly waterproof bag that doesn't shed wax at all, while still leaving your significant other not horribly mad at you because you coated your dryer in wax. Or go to a local laundromat.
  13. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    That's my experience with waxed or oil skin coats too. I wouldn't use that for my gear, just for myself to look 'country cool'. :wink:
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