Carving Green Wood #1: How much will green carving wood move?

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Blog entry by Tom Pritchard posted 08-08-2013 05:13 PM 2220 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I have been carving for sometime and lately I have been carving some walking sticks. The material I use is fallen sticks found in the forest. The stick is still green, but I still carve. A friend of mine asked me by using a green wood, would the wood warp and crack? I said, well I’m not sure. To me it’s ok if it warps some because it’s only stick. The twisting and warping may improve the looks. Can anyone else share there thoughts about carving green wood and what you might have experienced?

-- Tom in Mount Vernon, Wa

2 comments so far

View Boxguy's profile


2893 posts in 3272 days

#1 posted 08-08-2013 09:06 PM

Tom, too many variables for an answer. It depends on the type of wood, the size of the “stick,” how wet it was and how it was dried.

As an idea…keep the sticks out of the sun, put them into three or four foot sections of heavy plastic pipe while they dry. After several months of drying in the pipe, remove the sticks, steam and straighten the most bent ones.

-- Big Al in IN

View mpounders's profile


988 posts in 3900 days

#2 posted 08-08-2013 09:34 PM

I’ve carved a few sticks and can share my experiences….not an expert by any means. Green wood can be much easier to carve and it is usually easier to remove the bark when it is green. But you also run the risk of green wood developing splits or cracks as it drys out, particularly if it drys out too quick. If I am carving a green stick, I try to wrap it in plastic between carving sessions, trying to let it dy out slowly. I will also sometimes brush it with a product called Pentacryl, to try and avoid splitting. If you remove a lot of bark, it will lose moisture and dry out rapidly. If you dry sticks with the bark on, it slows the drying out and usually sealing just the cut ends with paint or wax will keep splits from developing. I have had pieces split almost in half over-night, after removing all the bark (crape myrtle), so I usually leave the bark on and seal the ends and let them wait a few months. I also try to cut a lot of mine in the winter when the sap is down. But one issue with leaving bark on is the possibility of insects under the bark. I’ve dumped and thrown away some after seeing little sawdust piles and the appearance of holes (dogwood, bamboo, others). I have carved some hickory when it was green, but some woods get so hard when dry, it is best to carve them with power tools and grinders of different sorts. I have all my sticks stuck in a plastic garbage can in my shop. It gets warm, but it is dry and they seem to do fine.

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

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