Greenwood Carving Aftercare

In this blog, we will look at how you may wish to consider caring for your carving project to ensure it remains as beautiful now and in all the years to follow. We will look at options you can take if you need to set your project aside for a while, surface finishes of tool markings and Knife scraping. In following blogs, we will look at sanding, burnishing, seasoning, oiling, baking, spoon butter, paint, patina and things to consider in use, lets get started.

Not finished, no panic,
Depending on what project you have undertaken will determine your action at this stage. With a Kuksa or dough bowl for example we advise leaving a bowl thickness of 10mm minimum and allowing it to fully season (dry out) before reducing the thickness further. This will help reduce the risk of your bowl cracking.

Jay’s unfinished carving projects

If you feel there is more carving work still do be done on your creation prior to seasoning, there are several things you can do at this early stage to help make this easier. Essentially you want to retain the moisture within the wood so that it does not dry out and become harder to carve, you can achieve this in one of the following ways:
• Dampen your carving a little with water, wrap it up in a plastic bag, and store in a cool place out of direct sunlight.
• Place your carving in a zip lock bag with a few splashes of water, squeeze out the air a little and place it in the fridge. It will keep for just under two weeks. If you need to keep it in there for longer, simply rinse out the bag and carving and repeat the process. This will help prevent the build-up of any mould.
When you are ready to carve again simply dampen any excess water with a kitchen town and resume carving.

My wood is dry
If you have come back to a project to find it has dried out, there are a few approaches you can take.
• Small projects you can continue to carve although the fibres will be harder to release.
• Larger projects can be resoaked, submerged in a bucket of clean water for two weeks or as long as needed. For long soaks you may also introduce small spalted areas of fungal rhizomes which may enhance your project. Remove any residual water with a clean absorbent cloth or disposable kitchen towel.

Jay making his first ever butter knife at The Bushcraft Show 2011

Surface Finishing
When you are nearing completion of your project your thoughts may turn to the type of final finish you would like to achieve with your carving. Left untreated wood fibres can absorb moisture, which can lead to cracking if they dry too quickly. The following are suggestions you may wish to consider:

Jay’s untreated spoon

• Tool markings
There is a great pleasure and connection with how something has been crafted by the way a hand tool has left its mark in releasing the wooden fibres to create what you hold Infront of you and you may be content with where you are. Alternatively, you can take this a stage further and align each tool mark to form regular patterns around your creation to the same depth width and spacing as the previous to create a pleasing pattern. Razor sharp tools (as with all carving) are essential for a clean finish here.

Jay’s sycamore dough bowl, with tool markings remaining on the inside surface of the bowl

• Knife scraping
When you have completed all the knife work this may leave little raised areas where one knife mark joins another. The finer you have been with your knife work the smaller these will be. These can be reduced further by scraping the blade of a sharp knife held at 90° to the surface across the work. Light pressure is needed to remove fine material to create a smoother surface. This can be revisited when the wood has dried out or seasoned for even finer results.

In my next blog we’ll take a look at burnishing and the controversial subject of sanding.

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