August 26, 2021

How to Clean Outdoor Wood Carving

The process of wood carving is often thought of as one of making art. This may be true, but it’s also true that it’s a process that requires cleaning. It’s also true that there are many ways of cleaning wood. It’s also true that there are ways of cleaning wood that doesn’t involve high-pressure cleaners. Let us look at How to clean outdoor wood carving. 

Wear work gloves that will protect your hands

When cleaning outdoor wood carving, protect your hands by wearing gloves. As you choose the gloves, consider durability and waterproof gloves, and they protect your hands from cracking your skin, dryness, and burns. 

Burns do not come from hot water only, but chemicals cause burns as well. Even when working with homemade detergents that you know what they are off, you cannot expose your skin to chemicals such as detergents and solvents. Using dish soap may affect your outer skin and solvents in all-purpose cleaners that you think are safe. 

Vinegar, ammonia, and bleach cause burns that take time to heal and leave permanent marks. They also remove your skin’s oil barrier as they remove the grime, leading to medical conditions such as skin rashes and burns. That is why you need gloves when cleaning your wood carving. 

Cleaning the carving

Take a soft cloth and dust away from the whole furniture. You are allowed to use furniture polish and a soft-bristled brush on the carved areas. Remove grease or stubborn grime using a cloth and mineral spirits. 

Clean your carving using a lint-free cloth. Do not use all-purpose cleaning sprays used for tables unless your wood carving has a plastic coating. Avoid using water since it creates spots and absorbs water and the peeling of the top surface of the carving. 

Sticky spots require soap and water but make sure you dry the surface as soon as possible. Dip a lint-free, clean cloth in water, add mild soap or a detergent dissolved in water. Do not use the dripping wet. Wring the cloth as it becomes almost dry and wipe the dirt off the area. Dry the surface using a dry, clean and soft cloth. 

Use a garden hose to wash away dirt and grime

A garden hose comes with the pressure that gets rid of dirt and grime that is sometimes stubborn. Add a few drops of dish soap mixed with water. The water has to be non-toxic so that you keep safe and the surrounding plants. 

Soap and water work just fine for your carving, and chemical cleansers damage both your carving and the environment. Check the weather since the carving needs to dry after being hit with so much water from the hose. Rinse off the soap using the hose and if not satisfied, scrub the surface with a brush to get rid of the remaining dirt. 

When done rinsing, wipe dry the carving using a soft, dry cloth. You are allowed to let the air dry the carving. Wash with the grain of the wood and raise the carving so that it dries completely. A thin w layer of wax is ideal on the surface and buffs it. When the wood wax is dried, it becomes shiny.  

Use a pressure washer to clean deeply

What makes dirt and grime pile up on your wood carving is not carelessness but exposure to elements. Use a pressure washer to remove the dirt and use it carefully since it damages your wood.

There are two types of pressure washers, and these are gas and electric pressure washers. Gas pressure washers have higher pounds of pressure per square inch and gallons of water than electric ones. 

A gas-powered washer is ideal for large carvings. It is fast and efficient and does not come with a cord. It needs maintenance, and it makes more noise than the electric one.  The electric pressure washer is convenient to use and requires high maintenance. 

Use a regular sponge and soap to clean 

Pay attention to the type of wood that makes up your carving before using the wrong tools and materials for the project. Clean the wood surface in stages, starting with a mild cleanser that does not affect the outcome. 

If the mild cleanser fails to remove dirt and work, try a more robust solution. Take mineral spirits and follow instructions. Add a drop of liquid soap to the water and let the sponge take the water. Brush the sponge lightly over the surface, and don’t let the liquid linger for long. Dry thoroughly.

Dry the carving with a towel

Whatever process you are taking as you clean the carving, dry the carving with a towel. The towel should absorb the remaining water on the surfaces so that it does not get damaged. Some wood types quickly absorb water, and that results in creating fag parts on the surface. Wipe off the water and let the towel dry the carving. Allow air to get rid of the remaining. 

Filling the missing wood

Failure to maintain your carving and repair it when you notice damages will not keep your wood carving in good shape. Fill cracks using a small piece of wood. That makes the patch less visible. Using a piece of wood with a similar color brings out a perfect finish. A combination of a patch of the same color and spray paint results in a flawless finish.  

Finishing the carvings

Choose the best finish that complements your wood. It has to last for years and is beautiful. Sanding, staining, and sealing are some of the finishes you have to compare. A rotary tool is ideal for sanding carvings, and the carving should be of hardwood. If the wood is soft, the rotary school becomes too aggressive to give positive results. 

The chances of distorting the shape of the carving are high, and the overall quality of the carving is disturbed. However, that does not mean you should abandon softwood. 

Use folded-up sandpaper as an alternative. A detail sander is less aggressive and has fast sanding. Rubber grips are for curved edges, and the converted oscillating toothbrush is less aggressive and for tight spaces. 

Wax the carving

Wax comes with advantages and disadvantages on outdoor wood furniture. It gives a beautiful finish to your wood carvings and is easy to apply, and it protects your carvings from scratches. 

Wax makes your items look new. Depending on the type of wax, some are non-toxic. Research more on toxic-free waxes. Wax penetrator through multiple layers of wood, and that gives additional protection to your carvings. 

However, they make your carvings look dull as the layers increase. It is difficult to remove since it penetrates through wood layers, is affected by heat, and stains wood. More maintenance is on wax, and re-applications are needed. 

Use a weatherproof sealant

Sealing wood carvings increases the life of your items. It is ideal for outdoor furniture since it is more exposed to natural elements. There will not be a need to replace the carving in a short period since that is avoidable. 

There are water-based wood sealers and oil-based sealers, and they come with their disadvantages. Match your wood type with the ideal sealer. You should also see our post on How to repair cracked wood carving.

David D. Hughes
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