Wood Q & A
Read carefully. If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact us.
All of our imported carvings are made from farmed soft wood best suited for an indoor, temperature controlled environment. Our carvings are all kiln dried so they can handle changes in temperature if they are dry. If placed outside, sunlight, humidity and temperature changes are going to drastically reduce the life of the carving. Please take this into account before making a purchase
What wood do you use for your carvings and where do you get it?
Fast growing and ready to harvest in a few years, it is called belalu or albizia falcata . It is soft and easy to carve. Native to Southeast Asia, it flourishes in a humid environment. Our wood supplier plant their trees and do not clear cut forests! We pay extra attention by kiln drying the carvings before they are painted. This insures that the larger pieces are less likely to check.
Do you carry hard woods such as cedar?
Yes, our top of the line Totem Poles are carved from reclaimed red cedar, but the cost of 100-500 year old trees and the process of how many are cut gives cause for concern.
The heavier and thicker your carving is, the more water it can retain and it expands. Since wood is porous, it acts like a sponge and will absorb moisture from the air faster than it can release it. When the humidity decreases and the temperature rapidly increases the wood will dry with the outer layers first and contract. The inner, heartwood is last to dry and the difference in moisture between the outside and inside can cause stress and cracking. If your carving is near a heat source or direct sunlight, both the finish and the wood will be affected by the heat and the uv light.
Use dish soap and warm water with a soft cloth to clean your carving. Stay away from cleaners that could stain, scratch or discolor the finish. A 10:1 Simple Green solution also works well at cleaning. Murphy's oil soap works great for both cleaning and it adds a little shine.
Boiled Linseed or Tung Oil oil works great at moisturizing and repelling water. Apply a coat, wait a few minutes, then remove the excess with a rag. Repeat untill the wood no longer absorbs the oil.
All of our Totems come and Cigar Store Indians have a thin coat of a water based varnish. Varnishes are available in both an oil and water base. We recommend applying 2-3 coats of the sealer.
Use a good marine (boat) Spar Varnish. Allow 24 hours between coats and apply at least two coats. Follow the manufacturer's directions carefully. A light sanding or steel wool between coats will help even the finish and remove any drips. Use a good natural bristle brush for the application of the varnish! Finally, applying a good paste auto wax will further assist in protecting your carving.
Deft Clear Wood Finish Brushing Lacquer - Satin Finish
We love using this product. It protects without looking glossy and dries to the touch in an hour.
How to apply it (Instructions from Deft)
Touch Up Painting:
Wear rubber gloves while working with any stain or finish product. If staining, note dry time on stain label before finishing.
- Sand wood with 180 grit sandpaper to proper smoothness, remove dust, and stain if desired.
- Apply one even coat of Deft Lacquer Sanding Sealer with a bristle Brush, or pad. Let dry for 1 hour. Fine-sand with the grain. Remove dust.
- Apply the first even coat of Deft Clear Wood Finish Brushing Lacquer with a brush, roller, or Deft's Aerosol Spray. Do not thin.
- Apply additional coats at two hour intervals - number of coats depends on the type of wood (open-grain woods require more coats than closed-grain) and kind of finish desired.
- Three full coats provide a resistant finish. Where wood is exposed to water, apply an additional three coats.
- Sand lightly after first coat with 220 grit sandpaper and dust with a dry brush.
- For a hand-rubbed finish, rub the final coat lightly with 4/0 steel wool or a rubbing compound.
- Clean brushes with lacquer thinner. For temporary storage without cleaning, tightly wrap brushes in Saran-type material.
All of our carvings are painted with oil based paints over a thick layer of primer. We recommend using acrylic art paints to match the primary colors. You may want to use wood filler first or multiple coats of paint to make it flush. A small chip can be hidden with a magic marker. A dark, oil based wood stain works wonders at blending primary colors in order to match the antique glazed finish. Apply the stain with a brush or rag, wait a minute or two, then remove some of the stain. Don't apply too much or it won't match the light glaze effect.
Silicone works great for filling both minor and major cracking. Silicone doesn't crack when it dries
out and it can adjust to expansion and contraction. It also can be painted, but it isn't easy to sand or make it flush after it dries like wood filler, but it is still the preferred method of filling any checking.
Wood filler is easier to sand and make flush, but it tends to crack.
Products like DAP Plastic Wood are solvent based so they harden quickly. Since wood expands and contracts, any solid filler will crack over time, but Bondo like products work better than wood putty.
You can also use a combination of wood glue and sawdust. This concoction works great, but you will need a heavy duty sander/grinder in order to remove the residual filler since it tends to heat up and harden quickly, thus ruining most sand paper.
Plastic wood works much better than wood filler. You can sand and paint over it, but it will still crack.