August 23, 2021

How to make a wood carving stand out

Some woodcarvers love to bring out texture and detail in the wood they carve. Others want to have a signature look to their work that no one else can beat. Whatever the reason, there are many ways to bring out the best in wood carving. In this post, we will show you how to make a wood carving stand out. 

Apply varnish 

Choose a varnish of your choice that gives you your desired look. Varnish does not only seal the wood carving, but it makes the item beautiful. That involves keeping your item natural, making it lighter or darker. Varnish makes cleaning the carving easy, and that eases the maintenance process. 

Original wood is great on a carving, and with varnish, it becomes solid and outstanding. Some users think adding varnish to their carvings changes the color of the wood, the look, and that is not the case. It does not completely cover the wood. Your option determines the outcome of your carving. The natural beauty of your wood is enhanced, and it becomes waterproof. 

Add color

Add color by painting your wood carving with the color of your choice. Color adds life to your carving without overpowering the wood. Stain, oil paint, and acrylic paint enhance beauty without distorting the wood grain. Gather your materials and tools as you prepare your painting project. 

There are types of wood that are great for carving. Visually, they are poor. When done carving and cleaning your item, prepare a finish that adds color. As you prepare to paint your carving, make a colorful base coating using acrylic paints. Three parts of your titanium have to be with one part of raw sienna. 

The mixture has to be similar to the original basswood color. Add drops of water to the mixture that fill deep grooves and tight joint lines. An ox-hair brush is ideal for painting, and the paint has to dry for one-half hour. 

After an hour, test a small patch. If dry, add a second coat. Turn the item upside down so that the paint reaches areas it has missed. Add raw sienna to the remaining base-coat mixture and apply vertically on the surface. Use titanium white for final streaking. Allow the last coat to dry.

Apply Oil Stain

Apply polyurethane spray sealer when painting. Allow all the coats to dry before you add another one. Instructions on the gallon help you apply oil stain without messing your work area and carving. 

Mix half part of linseed oil and one part of umber oil paint. Make sure the mixture is thin. Use a staining brush to apply the sealer and remove the stain using a lint-free cloth. The wood stain has to dry overnight. The wood stain gives you a wood grain with changing color tones, and they range from the base color of the carving on the highest parts to dark umber tones in the deepest crevices. 

Add highlights

When you want to improve carvings with your eyes, make round dots of paint for the button. These are the highlight dots of eyes or any other part of the item that is round in shape. Add highlights using a toothpick or stylus. Highlights are of a different color from the carving, and that adds beauty to the carving. They are noticeable and attract attention. 


Clean your outdoor or indoor wood carving whenever there is dust, or make it a habit to dust every day. As dust piles up, the beauty of your carving fades away. Use a spotless cloth to remove dust from the carving. Furniture polish gives a shiny look to the carving. Brush the carved areas using a soft-bristled brush. Remove any grease using a soft cloth and mineral spirits.

 Brush several times on carved areas using a feather duster so that you get rid of all the dirt. The duster also removes dust, but you still need to finish off with a cloth, getting rid of traces of dust. Fold your cloth as you make a corner so that it gets through crevices. You cannot use any liquid to clean your carving. 

Maintain the best detergent and type of cloth so that the cleaning process will not affect the quality of the carving. When cleaning your home furniture, there are instances where it peels off, expands, or becomes pale. Too much liquid on wood causes that. The same applies to your carving, and you may even witness some fat patches due to liquid absorption. 

If you cannot follow the instructions when using water, a wood cleaner would be ideal. It makes the carving shiny attractively. Below is a formula ideal for carving cleaning and the steps to follow.

Steps to clean the carving

  • Mix two cups of water in a bowl.
  • Add a tablespoon of white vinegar.
  • Take a clean cloth and dip it in the formula.
  • Wring it out so that it remains damp.
  • Do not leave the cloth dripping.
  • Wipe the carving using the damp cloth.
  • Add some drops of linseed oil, a popular finish for gunstock or petroleum jelly on a dry cloth. 
  • Allow the carving to dry.
  • Make sure there is enough ventilation in your work area.

Repair and maintenance 

Always check on your wood carving so that if there is a need for repairs, you go for them right away. Cleaning and restoration of cracked or scratched parts is part of the maintenance and repair process. Prepare the affected area as you fill in cracks and fill the splits. 

Get rid of extra filler as the wood is curing. Sand the area and apply a sealer and finish of your choice. A carving that stands out attracts a matching finish to the rest of the carving. It does not have to show that there is a patch. That looks untidy and ugly. 

Keep the carving in a moisture area

Dryness damages your wood carving over time, and that is why you should keep it in a moist area. The damage causes dullness on the surface and cracks on the wood surfaces. Add a humidifier to your room where you keep the carving. Keel the carving far away from a fireplace and heaters. That keeps the carving safe. 

Keep away the carving from excessive light

Excessive or direct sunlight produces UV rays that damage your carving and damage your carving, which is why there are shades or gazebos to keep your outdoor carvings. 

Light results in a dull appearance of the carving, and it affects your carving if it is dyed or colored. Natural light makes the carving glow, but too much of it destroys your carving. Low amounts of natural light keep your carving attractive. For your indoor carvings, use display lights in the room.

Avoid handling and touching the carving unnecessarily

Touching your wood carving leaves footprints on the items, and that does not look nice. Handling and moving the wood item deteriorates the quality of the carving. Limit the movements of the carving and traffic. It quickly wears off. Oils from the skin pile up and result in dirt. That envelops the beauty of your carving. 

David D. Hughes
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