Best Finish for a Bear Carving? Buying Guides 

Best Finish for a Bear Carving?

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For the past 8 to 10 years, I have enjoyed a miniature freestanding carving of a bear that we brought from California. It was formed from a piece of redwood and has always been kept indoors. Recently, I noticed that it was rough to touch as if it was drying and perhaps needed some type of finish applied. Is it advisable to “seal” it with a urethane type clear coat, or does it need to breathe? Is there a finish you would recommend that would not darken the color? – Pete Gillian

Tim Inman: Quite simply put, your wood is changing due to the conditions around it, and the wood fibers are reacting and popping up. It could be caused by sunshine, but most likely the culprit is humidity changes. Any finish you might put on the wood will slow the exchange of moisture. It will not stop it, nor will it return the wood to its former smoothness. So to get the wood smooth again, you will need to do some abrasive work. This could be sandpaper, of course, but it could also be steel wool or, better yet, nylon abrasive pads like Scotch-Brite®. I would avoid varnishes because they will eventually fail and chip away. Correcting that problem is then a huge undertaking. Alternately, I would get the wood smooth again if you feel that is important, then apply a drying oil or an oil/wax combination. This will return the wood to a nice bright look and give it new

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