How to Finish Basswood Wood Carvings

Finishing on my Basswood Wood Carvings


Majority of questions I get from other wood carvers are about finishing on my  carvings. I wish I had a simple, step by step recipe, but I do not. I will post answers to questions I get most often,  feel free to ask if you would like to know anything else. Please don’t be upset if I don’t provide specific answer to your question. I really do not have a “step by step” instructions; finishing of my carvings depends on different factors which I have to consider individually for each carving.


Please keep in mind that I work primarily with BASSWOOD and my answers relate to basswood.  All answers / information provided are related to my own experience and to what works for me. You might also want to read post “How to prepare carving for painting and staining” – preparation plays a major role in achieving required results.

Carved Mahogany sculpture of an Archer, figurative woodcarving by Fred Zavadil


What kind of stains do you use?
I mix my own stains from oil paints and paint thinner. I do not prefer a specific brand, I buy both, paints and a paint thinner, in the hobby / art supplies stores.

Do you use cloth or brush when you apply stain?
I use brush.

Do you use turpentine?

What do you use after staining?
It depends on different factors. In most cases, I will not use anything, sometimes I use varnish for better protection if needed (I do not like anything shiny) – and I  experiment a lot to see what would be the best.

Do you paint you wood carvings?
I only paint carvings when I am asked by a client and even then, I use very little paint so that the wood can be visible under paint.

What paints do you use?
I use oil paints for artists – paints used for picture painting. You can buy them  in stores which carry hobby or art supplies.

Why do you use oil paints and not acrylic paints?
For me,  oil paints do not have the feel of plastic when applied to wood, somehow they feel softer and are easier for me to work with (I used to paint pictures a lot in the past). They also take longer to dry than acrylic paints which gives me more time to work with them.

Please do not ask for advice on finishing other types of wood.

Please do not ask about specific brands / names / etc.  – I do not have preference, I buy what is available, also this is different for individual carvings.  I  try to find the best quality for all products I use – ask in stores.

I do a lot of experimenting and I experiment until I am satisfied.




Relief carving, basswood, Fred ZavadilBasswood, bas relief carving

Woodcarving, relief, angel

Wood carving, family crest, basswood

Carved coat of arms, basswood, relief woodcarving

Christus Rex, woodcarving by Fred ZavadilSculpture of Christ the King, Religious woodcarving, basswood

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How to Finish Basswood Wood Carvings | 2011 | Woodcarving Tips | Tags: finishing on basswood carving, wood carving finishing