A Word About Wood Carving Care and Characteristics

Moisture in the air and fluctuations in moisture levels have an effect on wooden structures. This causes log homes to develop cracks, wooden floors and stairs to squeak, wooden furniture to become loose or wobble, and drawers and doors to stick. Wood sculptures and chainsaw carvings are no different.

Every carving that we create is made from a single log that is often over 6 feet tall and 2 feet in diameter. Nothing is ever glued, screwed, laminated, or nailed. The logs we use aren't the same as kiln dried lumber that you buy from your local hardware store. Whole, unprocessed logs contain higher moisture levels. From the moment the tree is cut down, the resulting log begins a slow drying process. The log releases moisture until it acclimates to it's surrounding environment. During this drying process the log can be expected to shrink and change shape resulting in “checks” or “cracks”. These can typically be observed on the surface of a carving. This is a natural process which can be expected of every carved log. Once the carving is placed in or outside of your home, it will begin to acclimate to its surroundings. Once acclimated, the wood (your carving) becomes much more stable and generally does not crack or check any further if at all.

Every life sized, human form carving that we create is allowed to dry in an indoor, temperature and moisture controlled environment for approximately one year before it is made available for sale. As a result, DK carvings are much dryer, lighter, and more stable than logs or carvings that have not been allowed this drying time. Any checking that does occur during the drying period is removed or repaired before the carving is sold. This is a process that is unique to DK Carving. While we can not guarantee that your carving will not check to some degree after purchase, we are confident that its a much more stable product than most other life sized carvings out there.

Indoor Display

Our indoor display items generally refer to all our life sized human forms as well as smaller carvings under 18 inches in height such as small bears, trees, or pumpkins.

Our life sized human form carvings spend approximately one year drying and acclimating to an indoor environment in order to create the most stable product possible. While some cracking or checking can still occur, the overall longevity and integrity of a carving displayed indoors could very possibly outlast the life of its owner.

The greatest enemies of wood carvings are heat and excessively dry environments. DK carvings should not be displayed near fireplaces or beside heating vents. Likewise, they should not be displayed in direct sunlight as surface temperatures will routinely reach over 100 degrees. A cool area such as a finished basement, study, or other moderately climate controlled room is usually the best option. This is especially true during the winter months when the air is very warm and dry in homes in the North. When displaying your carving indoors it is recommended that you place a moisture barrier beneath it to ensure that any residual moisture does not come in contact with the flooring beneath.

  • Keep your carvings away from a heat sources such as heat registers, fireplaces, and prolonged sunlight.

  •  Place a moisture barrier between the carving and the floor to avoid moisture coming in contact with the floor.

  • Re-coating with a protective finish product is generally not necessary.

Outdoor Display

Our outdoor display items generally refer to our bear carvings of 3 foot or taller but may include any of the smaller carvings that we create.

Outdoor placement of any wood carving will reduce its life. While carvings placed outdoors can survive 5, 10 or more years in the elements, the sun, wind, and rain will have adverse effects on your carving. Even if displayed outdoors, your carving should not be placed in prolonged direct sunlight as direct sun exposure will have the most damaging effects. Under an eve or porch roof or in the shade of trees is preferred placement. Not unlike your wooden deck or picnic table, your carving will deteriorate over time. Annual or biannual re-coating of a protective finish product is necessary.

  • Keep the base of your carving dry. Your carving should not come into direct contact with the ground. Place bricks, pavers, stones, tile, wood blocks, etc., under the carving to allow for airflow and drainage.

  • Direct sun can lead to excess drying and checking. If possible, keep your carving under some type of shade. Covered porches or the shade of trees are best for outside display.

  • Re-coat with a protective finish product annually or when the carving no longer repels water, it looks dry, or it starts to discolor.


All carvings are sealed with Helmsman's interior/exterior grade marine spar urethane. If your carving is displayed indoors it will likely never need reapplication of spar urethane. If displayed outdoors annual or biannual re-coating is necessary. For non-water based products, thinning with 30% mineral spirits and applying two or three coats makes application more forgiving.


DK Carving does not make repairs to any checking experienced by your carving. This is a normal process and can add character to your carvings. If dissatisfied with the look there are two common remedies. First is to simply spray or otherwise apply black paint to the checking and wipe any over spray from the surface. This effectively camouflages the checking and provides an aged look.

The second is to insert and glue wood shims, sand, and recolor the carving. A tutorial of this process by CustomWoodCarvings.com can be seen at the Youtube.com link below.

Protective Finish Products

Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane Gloss is currently used on all DK carvings.