How to protect wood sculpture?
Wood carvings can last anywhere between a few decades to several lifetimes or more depending on how they were treated and where they are stored. They can easily last several decades outside if out of direct sunlight and are regularly treated and sealed. They can last almost indefinitely indoors and the wood sealed.
There are many different ways to protect your wood carvings. Most of the time you don’t even have to apply a wood sealer for them to last if you are storing them indoors and away from direct sunlight or damage.
If the wood carving is being stored outdoors, it would be ideal to place it in a spot that is away from direct sunlight, stored on something that promotes water drainage like a rock, and is using an outdoor varnish rated for UV protection.
The biggest issues you may face for keeping your wood carvings intact over the years will be wood rot, bug damage, and UV damage. But there are many ways to protect your wood carving from harm.
Caring for your wood carving is easy to do and in most cases, just require the perfect place to store it.
The best ways to make sure you can protect your smaller wood carvings is to store them in a cool, dry place like a bookshelf or a china cabinet that is out of direct sunlight or curious hands. This will make sure they aren’t disturbed by the suns UV rays, moisture, or direct damage from mishandling.
As an extra measure, you can apply a wood finish to your wood carving to seal the wood away from the elements and add a protective layer to protect the wood from direct damage.
Most durable wood for outdoor carvings
In order for wood to rot, the wood needs to have a moisture content between 20-30%, the air needs to contain at least 20% oxygen, and the outdoor temperature needs to be within 70 to 80 degrees F. Most places that people live will experience all three of these conditions in various times of the year, making some times of the year (like summer) more prone to wood rot than others.
Here are some great options for woodcarvers who want to make outdoor carvings. Most of these will have a lot of sapwood and high amounts of extractives (like resin and terpenes).
The wood is quite heavy and stiff, allowing you to continuously chip away with a chisel and mallet, but it can be a more expensive option.
Cedar Spanish and Western Red
The wood is easy enough to work with, but has a high chance to split along the grain when working on it. This can be frustrating to some and pose a significant challenge to others.
One popular option to carving cypress is carving the cypress knees themselves. They produce a beautiful carving but do require you to use very sharp tools for best results.
The wood is relatively easy to cut and is a popular option for its coloration and fine wood grain. It does have a tendency to split along the grain if you aren’t careful, so take small cuts if you are experiencing problems.