Applying a finish to your completed chip carving is a “make or break” step. Do it well and your chip carving comes to life and is something wonderful to behold. Do it poorly and your carving loses the beauty and the finish detracts from the chip carved design. Follow this lesson closely from start to finish and you’ll find success with each chip carving you complete from here on out.
I call this the My Chip Carving Quick & Easy Finish
Step 1 – Remove leftover pattern lines
Pencil lines are easy to remove with a soft, white plastic eraser. I prefer the Staedtler Mars Plastic and the Mercur Prism erasers when it comes to removing pencil lines.
Take your time especially around the delicate areas of your carving.
Graphite transfer paper AND Pattern Transfer Tool pattern lines are best removed with the Tombow Sand Eraser.
I have to import this eraser from Japan. You won’t find it in any office supply store.
It really does the trick. Again, erase carefully.
Vacuum the eraser remains when you are done.
Step 2 – Lightly sand the surface
With 220 grit or finer sand paper, very LIGHTLY sand the surface with the grain.
You do NOT want to sand too much and flatten the ridges you worked so hard to create when carving.
Also, wrap the edges of the sand paper around your fingers or a sanding block to avoid the edge of the paper catching a piece of your carving and chipping it out.
Vacuum your project when sanding is complete.
Step 3 – Apply sanding sealer
Using a soft, white nylon brush, apply a coat of sanding sealer to all sides and edges of your project.
Zinsser Universal Sanding Sealer, available in most home centers, is a shellac based product that is wax-free.
The sanding sealer can be brushed on because it will soak into the wood and not pool in the bottom of your carved areas.
It will dry in 15-30 minutes which is nice.
Seal all surfaces, front, back, sides, edges, everything. If a surface is left without a finish it will take on and give off moisture at different rates than the other surfaces with a finish on them and your project will warp.
You do not need to clean your brush. Let it dry hard. The next time you need to apply sanding sealer, soak the brush in denatured alcohol and it will soften and be ready to use again.
When all surfaces have been sealed and the sealer has dried, lightly sand and vacuum to remove dust.
Step 4 – Apply a topcoat
Everything applied from here on out will be SPRAYED, not brushed!
Brushing will cause finish to pool in the bottom of your carving and it will not look good, I promise.
Spraying is the only way to apply a topcoat to your chip carving.
For the Quick & Easy Finish, you will spray on SATIN LACQUER (also available in most home centers). Not gloss or semi-gloss. You want to spray on a dull finish so the light creates shadows where you carved. Gloss and semi-gloss finishes cause the light to reflect off the finish so the viewers eye is drawn to the shiny finish rather than your carving.
In a well-ventilated area, spray one light coat on all surfaces of your project. Of course you’ll need to allow upper surfaces to dry before flipping it over to apply a finish to the back.
Lacquer also dries quickly, 15-30 minutes.
When the first coat is dry, lightly sand and vacuum to remove the dust.
Spray on a second coat in the same manner.
When it is dry, examine the finish. If the finish is uniform and even on the surface, you are done!
If the finish is not consistently even on the surface, lightly sand, vacuum, and apply a third coat.
After the final topcoat is sprayed on, don’t sand or polish or wax, you are done.
Follow these steps and you can completely finish your chip carving in 60-90 minutes!
Now you know why I call this the My Chip Carving Quick & Easy Finish!
Here’s an example of a candle holder I carved and finished using this method.
Notice the shadows and how they draw your eye to the carving and not the finish. That’s the goal!
Step 5 – Send your square(s) to me
I will be assembling the square(s) you send me into a chip carved quilt(s). Each quilt will be auctioned or sold with proceeds going to the My Chip Carving Foundation. I will post a blog entry showing you the finished quilt(s) that you helped create along with auction/sales information. Thanks in advance!
My Chip Carving
51654 164th St.
Garden City, MN 56034
-- Marty, https://www.MyChipCarving.com, 866-444-6996