Caring for your Carving

It has come to my attention recently that some customers are concerned with the cracks that appear on their chainsaw carvings.

I make an effort to inform everyone that this is a natural and unavoidable process of a log. Chainsaw carvings are for the most part carved from whole diameter logs. As a log dries, it dries from the outside, in. As the wood dries, the fibers pull together and shrink. Since the outside of the log dries faster, it shrinks faster than the inside of the log. This causes strain on the wood fibers which results in CRACKS.

This will always happen. However the size and severity of the cracks can differ, depending on the speed at which the log dries. The slower a log dries, the more evenly it will dry (from the outside- inward), resulting in smaller cracks. In order to slow the drying process, it is recommended to keep carvings away from direct heat (fireplaces, heat vents, sunny areas, etc.). This is especially important any time the carving is moved to a new location.

Winter tends to be worse for cracking due to the temperature and humidity levels inside most homes. Most of my carvings have been drying outdoors. When a carving is then brought into a warm, dry house, it will crack. As humidity levels fluctuate, so will the cracks. A crack in the winter may close back up in the summer.

I do all I can to slow and control the cracking process. Many of my carvings will have a relief cut in the back. This gives the log a spot for the pressure to be relieved during drying, resulting in less cracks. All of my carvings are sealed. This slows the drying process.

Chainsaw carvings in general have a unique “rough” or “rustic” look to them that makes them stand out from other forms of carving and sculpting. Cracking is usually looked at, not as a flaw or problem but as a unique characteristic of chainsaw carvings that adds to the look of this form of art.

Of course, if a large crack forms in an area where it distracts from the overall look of the piece, it can always be repaired. If you have a piece with an unsightly large crack, please send me a message and we can arrange a time to drop off the carving for repair.

All my carvings are treated with 3 coats of Sikkens Window and Door Sealer. You can find a list of dealers on their website, and this is the specific product used Cetol Door & Window Colourless. Your carving will do best if kept in a minimal sun location, and should have a spacer under it to allow some air flow under the carving (beer caps work well, but anything will do, bricks, shims, etc.).

It is recommended to power wash the carving every 2-3 years and apply another coat of Sikkens. This will keep it well sealed and keep its nice luster.