Before you can use certain types of wood for carving, they have to be correctly dried first. For instance, some greenwoods and softwoods contain a lot of water. Carving them before they’re properly dried can cause the wood to crack or shrink.
Here’s everything that you need to know if you want to learn how to dry wood for carving.
Cut the Wood
Generally, there’s no need to learn how to dry wood for carving because most wood is already cured and ready for carving. This is especially true if you’re purchasing from commercial sources. However, if you’re harvesting the wood yourself, it’s essential to give the wood enough time to cure or dry before you use it.
If you already have a clear idea of the kind of carving you want to make, cut the wood into longer sizes than what you need because it will shrink as it dries. If you’re working with branches, cut horizontally across the grain.
Remove the Bark
As much as possible, remove the bark of the wood. Removing loose and excess bark will let the moisture seep through the sides of the wood.
However, some carvers also prefer leaving on the bark because they like its appearance. Doing this can also prevent branches from splitting.
Coat with Sealer
Paint the ends of the wood with a sealer to force the moisture to exit more uniformly. This is a crucial step when learning how to dry wood for carving. You can use any commercial sealers available in the market. Some of the more popular choices are shellac, paraffin wax, polyurethane, or even latex paint.
Moisture escapes from the wood faster on the ends than through any other parts. Drying the wood too quickly will lead to splits and end-grain checks. By sealing the ends, the drying process is slower and more uniform.
Stack and Store
When stacking, it’s preferable to use logs or sticks that are similar in lengths and thicknesses. Stack them in such a way that there’s enough airflow between each. Separate chunks with bricks or alternate the wood.
Store your stack in a sheltered area where it won’t be exposed to the elements. Make sure that you also turn them regularly to avoid warping. Weigh the wood down with some boards to prevent distortion.
Check the Curing Time
Curing time tends to vary with the wood and the size. The minimum drying time is around six weeks. Smaller pieces can take three to four months, while some logs can take as long as one to two years.
Never do the drying process during the winter months, especially when the temperature drops down to freezing levels. The moisture inside the wood will remain frozen. In this case, you can store the wood in an insulated and heated garage or basement.
Learning how to dry wood for carving can prevent a lot of problems later on, such as wood splitting, warping, or distortion. It will also help ensure the longevity of your carving. Find out more wood carving tips here!