All Replies on Sealing Carvings w/ Wipe-on Poly vs Boiled Linseed Oil

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View Underdog's profile

Sealing Carvings w/ Wipe-on Poly vs Boiled Linseed Oil

by Underdog
posted 12-16-2018 02:34 PM

9 replies so far

View bushmaster's profile


3950 posts in 3137 days

#1 posted 12-16-2018 02:44 PM

personally I would say it may work better as it will dry sooner.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View ArtMann's profile


1480 posts in 1671 days

#2 posted 12-16-2018 04:33 PM

I don’t believe your assumption regarding BLO is correct. It is used to enhance the grain of bare wood but, depending on the paint, it might have an adverse effect on adherence. If you feel you need to seal the wood before painting then dewaxed shellac is what most people use. Polyurethane is not necessarily a good substrate for acrylic paint. I would experiment with using the paint by itself if you want a solid color. I’m not convinced that any sealant is required or even desirable.

Always experiment on scrap before you apply a finish schedule for the first time on the actual project.

View Underdog's profile


1525 posts in 2890 days

#3 posted 12-16-2018 11:05 PM

I don t believe your assumption regarding BLO is correct.

- ArtMann

Then what’s the rationale for using BLO under acrylic when painting carvings?

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View ArtMann's profile


1480 posts in 1671 days

#4 posted 12-17-2018 02:36 AM

I don’t think there is one! Carvings may be a special case but I don’t know of anyone who uses BLO on furniture as a sealant for acrylic paint. I know lots of people who recommend shellac. I use polyurethane or lacquer over acrylic paint on my carved signs but it is just in the grooves. Here is an example …

View Phil32's profile


1133 posts in 758 days

#5 posted 12-17-2018 03:15 AM

Woodcarvings such as chip carvings or reliefs have a lot of exposed end grain and undercuts that will absorb paint or stain like a sponge if not sealed. The results will be blotchy and unpredictable. On the reliefs I carved based on the graphic designs of M. C. Escher, I selectively stain some features to bring out the lines, textures, etc. In order to keep the stain contained where I want it I seal the entire carving with water-based polyacrylic before staining. There are many examples among my projects posted on this site.

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

View HokieKen's profile


15074 posts in 1993 days

#6 posted 12-17-2018 06:10 PM

I agree that it doesn’t seem very intuitive to BLO (oil) on before acrylic (water-based) paint. I would go with shellac or the polyacrylic like Phil suggests. If you want to use a polyurethane, I’d go with a water based one.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View mpounders's profile


968 posts in 3750 days

#7 posted 12-17-2018 09:01 PM

I know a lot of carvers who apply BLO before painting their carvings, I believe primarily to prevent blotchiness on exposed end grain. Then they paint over it with thinned acrylic paints. After the paint drys, many will apply BLO again, sometimes followed by spray lacquer after it dries. They may then apply an “antique” solution followed by another coat of lacquer. I know some carvers that will substitute a sanding sealer for that first coat of BLO. There are many methods used for finishing carvings that wouldn’t necessarily be applied to the flat surfaces of a piece of furniture. My personal method is to paint directly on the bare wood with thinned acrylics and then applying satin polyurethane (oil based) to the entire carving with a brush when it is completed. I then blot this off with a paper towel to give a matte finish to the carving that is protective and easy to maintain. Plus it dries a lot quicker than BLO. Basswood is a little different in how it takes stains and finishes and although it may not sound like it works, the process described is used by many carvers.

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

View Berto's profile


20 posts in 2345 days

#8 posted 12-17-2018 11:06 PM

For basswood – another viable alternative for sealing a carving is mixed equal parts of BLO and Odorless Mineral Spirits. Dip the carving in the mixture or brush it onto the carving. Set the carving on a scrap pine board to drip-dry for 24 to 48 hours (the drips will soak into the wood so you have no clean-up). This sealing coat greatly decreases paint bleeding. After allowing the carving to dry, wipe it with a cotton rag to remove any excess oil.
Then paint away.
This method has worked great on carvings from basswood for me.
I see no reason why any of the other methods wouldn’t reach the same desired effect – The sealing coat greatly decreases the paint bleeding.

Just another alternative.

-- - Berto in VA -

View MyChipCarving's profile


657 posts in 3979 days

#9 posted 12-19-2018 12:09 AM

Good thoughts and ideas shared.
BLO dries very slowly. I’d steer away from it.
WOP dries slowly as well, so plan ahead.
Whether I’m staining (gel stain) or painting a carving, I like fast drying to seal quickly.
1-2 coats of SealCote Zinnser, wax-free shellac.
2-3 coats of spray satin lacquer.
Apply gel stain or paint as you like!
Results are impressive and blotchy colors when staining basswood are avoided.

-- Marty,, 866-444-6996

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