Sealing wood carvings ensures that the wood within remains stable hence avoiding damage like splits and cracks usually caused by wood movement. As carvers, we would want our art to last long. So how do you seal wood carvings to ensure they last a lifetime?
To seal a wood carving there are a few things you need to consider. To begin with, you want to have thought of the finish while still in the design process.
Some finishes will go well with certain woods hence it’s good to consider while still at the primary stages of design and wood picking. If you are not sure about wood finishes check out this wood finishing guide.
How to seal wood carvings using tung oil
Before sealing your wood with tang oil make sure the surface is ready. The surface may have dirt or lifted grain in which case it may need sanding and cleaning. If it’s a figurine we can skip sanding by design to achieve the iconic ‘knife markings.’
Applying tung oil to a carving is quite easy. you only need to use a brush or rug. Tung oil can be thinned using turpentine or spirits. For faster application use naphtha which reduces drying time significantly.
While applying tung oil use 0000 steel wool to smoothen the surface before the next coat.
How many coats of Tung oil for your carving
Tung oil should be left for 24hrs after the first coat. After smoothening, you need to apply another coat.
It usually takes 2 to 3 coats of tung oil to finish a carving. Make sure to wait for at least 24hrs between the coats. As you can see tung oil is quite a slow drying finish but this can be worked around by the use of naphtha.
Tung oil vs Linseed oil: finishing a wood carving
These two finishes are very similar. In fact, if it was not for the price tag of tung oil being a bit higher most people would say there are no discrepancies. However, there is a difference and perhaps a legit reason why tung oil is highly-priced.
Tung oil is better at preserving than linseed oil. it is also lighter and doesn’t darken the wood much as tung oil does.