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Thread: Higlighting carved lettering

  1. #1
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    Higlighting carved lettering

    I recently took up chip carving and was helped a great deal by my online SMC mentor John Jordan & others who helped with good advice.

    This led to me making a name plaque for my only grandchild. I carved his first & middle names using one of the knives I made from cutting a scalpel in half to make the two knives shown. Frankly, I was surprised that it carved well for me. This plaque was done on white pine & I wanted to highlight the lettering.

    I tried both a dark & a neutral stain, and the lettering stood out better on the neutral stain than on the dark stain, yet the contrast is still not enough as you can see in the picture. So now I'm trying to find a way to highlight the lettering without messing up the surrounding wood. I've thought about using a sealer on the wood before carving, staining everything, or just the lettering area, carving, and then sanding the areas surrounding the lettering. Yet I'm concerned that sanding enough to remove the stain may removing too much of the carving.

    Can anyone suggest a better way. If sealing first is a good way, what would you recommend for a sealer?
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    Last edited by Al Launier; 07-29-2018 at 1:39 PM.
    Thoughts entering one's mind need not exit one's mouth!
    As I age my memory fades .... and that's a load off my mind!

    "We Live In The Land Of The Free, Only Because Of The Brave"
    ďThe problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living."
    "
    Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." Winston Churchill

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
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    Chewton, Victoria Australia
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    Hi Al

    great work on that carving for your Grandson. Heíll cherish that carving from his Granpa forever.

    Well I do exactly what you mentioned about sealing it. Let it dry to seal the end grain exposed from the carved letters.
    then the stain and wipe off. Then resand the surface and itís all good.

    I find with a Polyurethane Matt it does the trick for me. I usually use the water based poly as the oil based will darken the wood a bit. And you would want those dark letters to pop against a light colored wood background.

    Iíve never tried any other way to do this as this method works well for me. But it would be interesting to hear if anybody else has a different method.

    Regards Richard Yates

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the kind words Richard, I really took a lot of enjoyment doing this for the little tyke. It's my first attempt at exposing my carving errors to the public.

    It sounds like you may have experimented with different sealers before settling on the Polyurethane Matt finish to seal the wood before carving. Did you find that the Poly Matt finish minimized stain adherence to the wood & sanded off more cleanly than say the Polyurethane satin or semi-gloss finishes?
    Thoughts entering one's mind need not exit one's mouth!
    As I age my memory fades .... and that's a load off my mind!

    "We Live In The Land Of The Free, Only Because Of The Brave"
    ďThe problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living."
    "
    Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." Winston Churchill

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Chewton, Victoria Australia
    Posts
    40
    Hi Al

    Sorry about my late reply. But I have a good excuse, Weíre Moving! We bought a place with a bit of land and itís very tranquil. So itís all about putting our house here on the market right now.

    On the Matt vs Satin itís been awhile since Iíve used much Satin Poly. I just really like the Sheen of Matt vs the Bit of a shine with Satin.
    But I dont recall there being a noticeable difference on the stain Adherance. Iíll have to try a test next time and see how it goes. Which will definately be after weíve moved! But Iíll let you know.

    Regards Richard

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the feedback Richard & hope your move is going as well as you hoped it would.

    I agree that using a sealer is a good way to protect the surrounding area from the stain. Since your last post I've discovered something by trial & error, and so far this is what I've come up with & think this may be the best way for me.

    Trace the pattern onto the wood using graphite paper from Hobby Lobby & a stylus that I also picked up at Hobby Lobby (https://www.hobbylobby.com/Art-Suppl...lus-Set/p/5054) I use either of the two smallest ball ends depending on how tight the lines, or curves are.

    My routine so far is to use white pine wood & when I get good at this I'll get better wood:
    1. Sand the wood with 220 grit paper.
    2. Trace the image onto the wood.
    3. Apply 2-3 coats of Lacquer onto the image. (# of coats depends on how much soaks in - I'm looking for a complete, uniform coating). https://www.homedepot.com/p/Rust-Ole...6830/100194482
    4. Carve the pattern through the Lacquer coating.
    5. Apply the stain & wipe off before it dries.
    6. Repeat staining if desired.
    7. Apply another 1-2 coats of Lacquer.
    8. Done


    Observations:
    1. I previously tried to trace the pattern onto the Lacquered wood. The tracing came out poorly; barely discernible - not good.
    2. This led me to trace, then Lacquer, then carve in this order.
    3. Carving through a thick coating of Lacquer distorts the perception of depth a little, like looking through water, but it's still OK.
    4. Carving through the Lacquer results in the Lacquer chip sticking together a bit.


    Oops I have to go - will resume when I get back.

    I used only the clear coat Lacquer & suspect that the matte, satin, or semi-gloss sealer might present a less clear image of the pattern if carving the pattern through the sealer.

    So far I think the above sequence is worth experimenting with to get more experience. I think carving through the Lacquer will allow the stain to penetrate deeper into the raw wood & the final coat of Lacquer will preserve & protect it better. Time will tell.

    Although I haven't tried using Polyurethane, I do like the Lacquer, actually it's the first time I've used it. I like the hardness, clarity & toughness of it. I'm going to try fewer coats to see if the stain wipes off cleanly. Hopefully this will work which could make carving through a thinner film easier. Polyurethane may work just as well , or better; will have to try that too.

    Also, I find that even with a small, pointed blade it's difficult to carve small features such as little circles or curves; the wood wants to chip off easily if not really careful. However, I think the Lacquer may help hold things together when carving small details, even more so when applying the final finish coat(s).

    Obviously I still have a long way to go. I probably ought to stick with block fonts like Times New Roman in all caps. Perhaps Balsa or Basswood or Butternut. Maybe even ice so my mistakes will melt away.
    Last edited by Al Launier; 08-14-2018 at 11:15 AM.
    Thoughts entering one's mind need not exit one's mouth!
    As I age my memory fades .... and that's a load off my mind!

    "We Live In The Land Of The Free, Only Because Of The Brave"
    ďThe problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living."
    "
    Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." Winston Churchill

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