How to prepare wood for carving?
Timber and woods gathered from here are often known as dry wood or seasoned wood.
However, if you’ve gathered fresh wood from the outdoors such as a twig or branch, this is known as green wood.
Chose a non-toxic wood
While most types of woods are safe to use, some can be toxic and may trigger allergic reactions, especially when coming to carving it later. Therefore it’s vital you know which wood is safe to use or which ones could trigger specific allergies.
Make note, not every piece of wood will cause an allergic reaction however, some toxins in specific sections of wood may affect people in different ways. To save you some time, we’ve pooled together a list of common reactions from woodworkers source on what type of wood, its origin, and the typical reaction it causes.
Irritant to eyes and skin– balsamfir, beech, birch, blacklocust, blackwood, boxwood, cocobolo, dahoma, ebony, greenheart, mansonia, obeche, olivewood, rosewoods, satinwoods, walnut, wenge, teak, and yew.
These are just a few common examples, however just because there is wood not listed here does not mean it’s entirely safe to use. Make sure you conduct your research about the type of wood you have before you begin carving.
Whatever the wood you’re using, be cautious as inhaling wood while using can be dangerous to your health in the long-term. If you breathe in dust, it can cause problems to your respiratory system. So make sure you’re wearing protective gear like goggles and a mask when dealing with wood.
Store the wood accordingly
If you are using wood from the outdoors and not using it straight away, you’ll want to store it efficiently. Make sure when storing the wood, you place it in an environment that is sheltered and is kept away from the rain. Likewise, make sure it’s out of sunlight and make sure that the air can circulate the wood piece.
One way of doing this is by placing tarp or plastic sheeting over it on a flat surface. Keep it only semi-sealed and not fully enclosed. This prevents mold from developing and bacteria getting to the piece of wood. However, if it’s fully sealed, it can cause the wood to absorb the sheet’s moisture, becoming wet and hard to carve.
Another way of preserving your wood is to leave the bark and paint the grains using latex paint. When you’re ready, then cut an inch or two off the wood and split your log.
Moisture content in wood
We must know the moisture content as sometimes if it’s too much, it may cause splits in the wood, it can encourage mold growth within the wood, or even prevent adhesives forming a tight end.
Depending on the wood, the moisture content can generally vary between 8-25% in weight.
To check the moisture content of the wood, we recommend using pinless moisture mature. This is a device, which you hold over the wood and transmits an electromagnetic wave, submitting a reading.
A good moisture content of wood is around 6-8%.
If the content is too high, you can dry the wood by using a kiln.
Repairing cracked wood
A cracked piece of wood could cause a lot of damage to your carving project. We advise as soon as you see a crack, you repair it immediately before further damage is done later.
To help you repair your wood, you will need to have a strong wood filler such as polyester resin. However, depending on your wood, you may want to get a colored fill, which will match the wood accordingly.
Next up, to keep the resin inside, tape up the sides and bottom of your wood. Then put the resin into the cracks until it overflows outside of your piece of wood.
Wrap it in a bag and tape it, so the resin stays within the wood cracks. Then, wait for some time and unwrap the bag. Now the resin will have stayed and filled in the cracks.
There you have it, four steps on how to prepare wood for carving.
Remember to safely pick your wood, do your research on toxins, and wear protective clothing while dealing with the wood.
Similarly, depending on when you use the wood, make sure you store it in a safe environment out of the sun. Likewise, check the moisture content and make sure it’s between 6-8%. Finally, if you have any cracks, use filler and leave it for some time!
To repair a crack, you can fill and glue ‘feathers’ (thin slices) of the same wood in the cracks. Make sure the grain is going the same way. This will give a better finish and will be less noticeable than resin.