Need help on finishing

Any ideas how to finish this carving off? Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks


I don’t have much to say on sanding, but I do have a suggestion for the finish.

If that is an open-grain wood, first use a blonde grain sealer to close the grain.

Then put a very heavy coat of Minwax Polyshades antique walnut stain (NOT USE THE GEL VARIETY!) over the face. If the piece is small enough and the back/edges won’t be on display, just saturate it by dipping it into the can if the piece will fit.

Shake free as much excess stain as you can. If the piece is small enough, I’ll hot glue (small pieces) or friction fit a dowel into a balanced point on one of the edges and use a power drill to spin the finish off, using a 5-gallon bucket to catch the excess.

Only lightly wipe areas that have an excessive amount of stain, or that should be highlighted. Work fast, and don’t touch up anything after the stain starts to get tacky. Set the piece flat on it’s back in a location where no dust will settle on it and allow it to dry. (if you dipped the entire piece, place wax or parchment paper underneath. Allow for double the drying time. The wet stain will accumulate in the low spots and edges, darkening the lines and edges, making them pop against the lighter wood. It’s excellent for skin wrinkles.

This was introduced to me as the “dip method”; I’ve also heard it referred to as a “wash”. I discovered it decades ago painting gaming miniatures. It is a bit wasteful on the stain, but its fast to apply and gives great results on carved pieces. It does take a bit of practice though to learn where excess stain needs to be removed by cloth or q-tip.

For your piece, I would make sure to use a q-tip to remove almost all of the stain from the white of the eyes. the forehead, and the very tops of the knuckles.


Thanks for the great ideas! Ill try to get a pic up when i get it finished. That pic looks amazing!

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I forgot one important thing about the stain… Minwax Polyshades comes in a liquid and a gel variety. Do not get the gel stain, it is too thick to flow properly into the low spots.

As soon as I get from spring break vacation with the family I’m going to try and do it. Thanks for all the info. Can’t wait to get started!