A Word About Wood Carving Care and Characteristics

Moisture in the air and flucuations 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 typically 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 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.

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 somewhat unique to DK Carving. While we can not guarantee that your carving will not crack or 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

Every life sized, human form carving that we create is intended to be displayed indoors. It is for this very reason that our carvings spend approximately one year drying and acclimating to an indoor environment. 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, much like other indoor furniture.

The greatest enemies of large 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 dry area such as a finished basement, study, or other 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. Displaying your carving indoors requires you to place a moisture barrier or spacers beneath it to ensure that any residual moisture does not come in contact with the flooring beneath.

  • Keep your carvings away from a heat source: such as heat registers, fireplaces, prolonged sunlight, etc.

  •  Keep carvings elevated slightly with wood strips, tiles or blocks; or 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

While every life sized, human form that we carve is intended to be displayed indoors we understand that you may still choose to display it outdoors. Outdoor placement of any wood carving will greatly 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 the direct sun as direct sun exposure will have the most damaging effects. Under an eve or porch roof is preferred placement. Not unlike your wooden deck or picnic table, your carving will deteriorate over time. Annual 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, pressure treated blocks, etc., under the carving to allow for airflow and drainage.

  • Direct sun can lead to excess drying and cracking. If possible, keep your carving under some type of shade; covered porches are ideal 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.


Your life sized, human form carving is usually 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 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 will not make repairs to any cracking or checking experienced by your carving. This is normal and can add character to your carvings. If dissatisfied with the look there are two common remedies. First is to simply spray paint the crack black and wipe any over spray off the surface. This effectively camouflages cracks well and provides an aged look. The second is to insert and glue wood shims, sand, and recolor the carving. A search on Youtube.com will bring several DIY repair videos to explain the process in more detail.

Recommended Protective Finish Products

These are the finishes typically applied to our carvings:

Minwax Helmsman Spar Varnish: This finish is used on all life sized, human carvings. It is identified by a clear, smooth, gloss finish. It is unlikely that any carving displayed indoors will require a second coat.


Sikkens Cetol Log & Siding (natural): This finish is sometimes used on outdoor carvings like bears. Its usually identified by an orange tint.

Cabot’s Australian Timber Oil (natural): This finish is sometimes used on outdoor carvings like bears. Its usually identified by an orange tint.