How to Paint and Finish a Wood Carving

If you want to properly paint and finish a wood carving, you need to follow a few steps. First, try the paint beforehand, then prepare the wood. Finally, follow a painting process and pick a finishing technique such as using paint, oil, shoe crème, or wax. Read on to find out more.

Table of Contents
Paint Wood Paintbrush

Try the Paint

One of the worst mistakes you could make as a woodcarver is to finish a beautiful piece and ruin it by not trying the paint beforehand. 

There are many types of paint and finishing methods, and what works for you greatly depends on many factors such as, the kind of wood you used.

Thus, to avoid an unwanted disaster, take a piece of wood – preferably the same kind you used for your object – and try the paint on it. After that, you can also make different attempts with various finishing techniques and determine which one you like best.

Prepare the Wood

Wood is a very specific material. You might already know it, but it is highly absorbent. Consequently, you need to prepare it before you paint it so it manages the paint well and doesn’t suffer any damage.

There are different pre-treatment options, so you should choose the one you enjoy the most. You can use burnishing, which is a way to polish the wood. On the other hand, you could use a sanding sealer to seal the pores of your material.

Also, you might use a spray sealer if you have any cracks you want to cover. Using 220 grit sandpaper allows you to create a very smooth surface. There is also flat-plane carving that lets you have a flat material to work on.

Start Painting

Now that you prepared the wood and tried the paint, start the process! If you pre-treated the wood, then it means that you can use any type of paint.

The first thing you must do is to apply a coat of mineral spirits or linseed oil. Wait some minutes and then take the excess off. After that, let it dry overnight.

Then, it’s time to thin the paint. If you use certain thinners, you might get a better effect because they don’t harm the wood’s grain.  The next step is to start using all the colors you want. Do not be afraid! It’s time to let your imagination soar and make your project have beautiful colors. All you need to do next is to let it dry before starting with the finishing process.

Go for an over Paint

Once the paint is dry, spray the whole thing with lacquer coats, at least three of them. Keep them thin so you do not make a mess. Make sure you cover the whole thing, including small parts and details. 

Then, use a paper bag and get rid of any rough areas that the lacquer left. If you want, you can leave it like that or use other materials such as wax to give it an antique look.

Use Oil

If you’re looking for a finishing that’s easy to apply, then Danish oil might be a good choice for you.

Using a soft-bristled brush, apply the oil and wait for 15 minutes. Do the same thing the next day. However, keep in mind that Danish oil can make basswood change color and become gold. Thus, refrain from using it if you do not want to create that effect.

Find Some Shoe Creme

Suppose that you need to finish your project but can’t buy a specific finishing material. Good news – shoe crème might work. It’s effective if you use bark carvings made of wood or cottonwood.

Nonetheless, keep in mind that it is not clear how long such a finishing lasts. To use it, apply it to your carving and allow the grain to show through. If you want, you could even use shoe crème instead of paint.

Make sure you use a bristle brush to guarantee that the crème covers all parts of your carving. After that, buff the project with a rotary brush or a horsehair brush. Repeat the process for a second time so the final finished look is ready.

Common Wax Might Work 

If you really love the color of your wood, using floor wax as a finishing material might be a good idea. It may take a few coats to give it a nice clean look, but you can apply it a couple of times and use a horsehair brush to buff it once it’s completely dry.

Key Takeaways

Carving wood is very fun, but painting and finishing are some of the best parts of the process! That’s where you can let go and let your imagination soar with the colors and different techniques to achieve the desired effect.

Now that you know the different finishing options and you have a process to paint your projects, go to the workshop and start having fun!

Graham Robson
Graham Robson

In the world of wood carving, your wooden project starts with you. Using the right kit can be seen as an extension of your existing skills and abilities that you're required to build over time.

About Me

My name is Graham, I’m an English teacher and woodcarver during the weekend., my website designed to act as a digital workshop for wood carving in the one place.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as i enjoyed writing it!

Recent Posts