DIY: How to Make a Waxed Canvas Camera Bag

Extra photos for bloggers: 1, 2, 3

A night tour of Madame Tussauds is heck-of-scary, but here’s one thing more petrifying than that: damaged camera gear.

That same stuff Miss T uses will calm all your photo fears!

A DIY waxed camera bag will keep your lenses and camera bodies safe, sound, *and* dry.

Our buddy Allen Mowery put together this fantastic tutorial on how to make a water-resistant camera bag with grocery store wax, a messenger bag, and a camera bag insert.

The waxed canvas will add to that rugged mountain-man/lady look you pull off so well!

Make a DIY Waxed Camera Bag!

p.s. Today’s the last day to join Phoneography 101 before it starts mañana. Hop to it or you’ll have to wait until April!

Why it’s cool:

beforeSo what’s the deal with waxed canvas bags?

They’re durable & water-resistant, keeping your gear safe inside. And the waxed look even gives your bag a sweet rugged look.

An affordable waxed bag can be hard to come by, but this DIY will show you how to get it done at home.

You can also turn any canvas bag into a camera bag with a camera bag insert, which opens up a whole range of possibilities when it comes to personal style!

By the way, check out the accompanying video tutorial for this project.


  • A canvas messenger bag or any canvas bag your heart desires
  • A pack of paraffin wax (2 bars), find it in the grocery store
  • A paintbrush, between 1/2″ and 1 1/2″ wide
  • A double boiler or an old pot or coffee can (big enough to hold 16 oz of wax)
  • Access to a dryer
  • An old pillow case
  • Optional: Any Camera Bag Insert

Step 1: Melt the Wax

Once you pick up your wax, you’re going to want to melt it. Trust us on this one. Rubbing a solid wax bar on the bag doesn’t do a darned thing.

A double boiler* works well for melting the wax down, but if you don’t have one, use a couple of old pots — one slightly larger than the other, so one can sit on top of another. You can also use an empty coffee can.

Allen used camping pots!

Now place a cup of water in the smaller pot, turn on the stove and get it boiling. Set the larger pot on top and add two bars of wax into it.

*Note: Since wax is a little hard to wash out, you might want to avoid using something you normally cook with.


STEP 2: Paint Your Heart Out

beforeOnce it starts melting, you’re ready to dip your brush.

Get a decent amount of wax onto your brush, not too little, not too much, and paint it onto the bag.

Pay special attention to the seams and bottom of the bag. Allen recommends an extra coat of wax on the bottom since this area gets the brunt of wear-and-tear.

Should I paint the strap? Depends! If it’s nylon, there’s no need to paint it. But if it’s also canvas and you want to make that part of your bag water-resistant, go for it.

Once you’ve coated your entire bag, the wax might start to caked and hardened, but not to fret. That’s just how it should be.

STEP 3: It’s Mellllltiiing

This might sound weird, but you’re going to melt it again!

Grab that old pillow case, and throw your bag into it. Tie it off to contain the waxy goodness that is now your camera bag.

Put it in the dryer on high for 30 minutes. This’ll make sure the wax evenly melts into the fabric. If you don’t have access to a dryer, you can use a hair dryer, but it’ll just take a little more work.

STEP 4: Just Cool It, K?

When your dryer makes that loud buzzing sound, pull the bag-in-pillow-case out.

Gingerly remove it from the pillow case, and let it cool down.

There you have it! When it’s dry, the fabric will feel harder than it did pre-wax and the color may get a little darker. This is totally normal.

From here, you can choose to

  1. Use it as it is.
  2. Work the fabric to break it in and soften it up.
  3. Give it another application to fortify it even more.
  4. Add a camera bag insert to cushion your delicate gear.


Take It Further

Allen Mowery is a documentary photographer based out of the Central Susquehanna Valley in Pennsylvania. He’s currently working on an ongoing photo project about the lives and culture of the Central Susquehanna Valley.