Question about carve/paint/sand technique

So I’ve done several projects where I:

  1. Sand and prep the board
  2. Apply a poly coat
  3. Carve words or images
  4. Paint in those carvings
  5. Sand again to remove any paint that got on top of the board

My problem is when I do the sanding for step 5 those painted carved areas fill with dust and that dust attaches so well that blowing does not get it all out - there is always a very noticable layer. I’ve resorted to wiping the carves with a damp rag which, depending on the carve, can be difficult and time consuming.

Question - is there a way I can keep the dust from adhering so well to that painted carved area? I have considered having a step 4.5 where I apply another coat of poly hoping it would create a surface less grabby to the dust.


Make sure you are letting the paint cure long enough. Once properly cured the saw dust should not be adhering to the painted areas.


Would 24 hrs be considered long enough?
It will wipe off easily enough, just not blow off.

That all depends on your paint and environment. Usually if it wipes off for me it blows off. I live in AZ so it things cure faster at times than the paint says.

  1. Apply a mask to the board (I use Oramask 813 with great success.
  2. Carve
  3. Seal carved section with shellac or similar
  4. Paint carved sections
  5. Peel masking off
  6. Apply top coat

I had the same issue. Longer dry time or sporadic hair dryer treatments over a day resolved it.

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Agreed with the above. Your paint just isn’t cured. Environmental factors play in to curing times, but the manufacturer instructions give you an idea. Sprayed oil enamel cures rock hard for me in 18-24 hours, oil spray non enamel varies. I give it all at least 24 hours cure time, then more if needed.

That’s part of what confuses me…I’ve given it 24 hours. Next time I’ll try for a longer period. Maybe 2 days. I guess it could be the combination of the paint and my geographical location. From your’s and other’s similar feedback, it definitely sounds like I am doing acceptable steps but just not waiting long enough. Thanks!

We have had so much rain here in the last few weeks (Georgia) the high humidity has made my drying time take several days for a few projects.

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How thick are you spraying it? I do extremely light coats for the first 2, sometimes 3 coats. So light it takes that many coats to actually get uniform color. Then a decent coat at last for a perfectly smooth finish. If you spray it on thick it will take way longer to completely cure. Plus, if you lay on multiple thick layers it adds to the cure time, and could cause other issues like cracking.

Yup…I’m Georgia person, just outside Marietta.


You dont mention the size of your materials but placing the painted stock inside a large cardboard box, with a single 35-50W lightbulb inside will effectively make you a nice cure-oven. You should be able to get up to 120-140degF inside and the humidity will also drop :slight_smile:

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Sorry. I probably should have been clearer in my initial posting…I am brushing on an oil based paint. Initially I seal the wood to keep any paint I get on the surface from bleeding in. Then I paint the carves being careful not to get any on the surface but, if I do, its ok because it will sand off. I’m just careful when I do it to keep from having to sand a lot off. I generally apply 2 coats, about 2-3 hours apart, as there can be thin spots, and then let it sit about 24 hours. It will turn out ok, its just getting that dust out of the carves is the hard part. Here is my latest (the orange thing on the right is a version of the portable saw mill he uses, a Wood-Mizer) -

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They very from 16" to about 24" wide and about 12" tall. Good to note about the box and bulb. Weather permitting, I’ll set it outside of the basement/garage and let the sun help.

I wish I had a saw mill. I have logs stacked up 6 foot high, just need to get around to building one!

Where do you get your materials?

Marietta isn’t too far from me and some rustic pieces like that would be cool to do stuff with and be worth the drive.

There is a flea market in Carrollton and he sells his off-cuts there. He has some really nice large slabs for a couple of hundred but I alway dig through the smaller boards - $1 to $5 a piece. Actually I will be delivering that sign to him tomorrow and stocking up on some more supplies while I’m there…

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I’d guess maybe since the carved parts are a bit smaller maybe the paint is pooling up a bit thicker than you think and taking longer to dry. I’ve actually had that happen on a couple hand painted items in the past.

Yea. I will just reel in my enthusiasm a little bit and give it 2 to 3 days ton dry. Would be an easy thing to test.

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My anticipation always gets the better of me lol. I hate waiting