December 3, 2021

Carving Oak Wood | The Smart Guide

Oakwood is a hardwood that comes from the Oaktree. It is native to the Northern hemisphere. Timber from oakwood is for construction, homewares, flooring, and wine barrels. Oakwood is strong, heavy, and durable. It is a beautiful, light-colored wood with a prominent grain. 

It is also resistant to fungi, and the appreciation goes to its dense texture. Although the timber lasts longer, the trees have the time they expire. The oak timber comes with durability and hard-wearing properties that make it ideal for lasting materials. These include kitchen utensils and chopping boards.

Properties of oak wood

  • Beautiful color
  • Strong
  • Long-lasting
  • Resistant to mold and fungi
  • Dense
  • High defined grain

Oak Wood Properties that are Important in Wood Carving

1. Safety

Oakwood is safe for carving. That is why you can use oak carvings for any purpose. Oakwood does not contain toxic substances,  making it food safe. It is non-toxic and food-safe. That means you can use oak wood to carve kitchen utensils, baby toys without any health issues.

2. Beautiful Color

The oak color is appealing in wood carving. Oakwood has a wide range of colors, from light beige to red and brown. White oakwood is more beige, and red oak is rosier. Oakwood brings natural beauty to your wood carvings which makes them attractive.

3. Durability

Oakwood is amongst the strongest woods on the planet. That is why it makes buildings such as churches. 

4. Easy to Finish

Oakwood carvings can be finished by applying beeswax, linseed oil, or Danish oil. That gives extra protection to your carvings. The porous structure of oak wood makes the finishing oil penetrate more and dry quicker than most other woods.

Is oakwood good for carving

Yes, Oakwood is good for carving. Oakwood for carving because of its properties. Because of being strong and sturdy. Oakwood carvings have long-term durability. But wood carving with oak is not as simple as carving with basswood or pine due to various factors.

Is Oak Difficult to Carve?

Oakwood is difficult to carve due to its hard and dense, large porous structure. These make it difficult to get a smooth surface in wood carving. Sharpen your tools for a smooth surface. Master the carving skill before you get started with oakwood. 

Oak is one of the strongest woods amongst other hardwoods. You can have an oak carving that lasts for more than 20 years without getting damaged. Apply the coating once per year to protect the hardwood.

When it comes to handling wood carving, Oakwood is difficult to work with. Especially when working with white oak to make cuts and curls. It takes patience to get shapes, it is difficult, and this is because of its high hardness.

Make sure you have enough experience with oak wood. Make use of safety gloves and a thumb guard. It gives injuries to the user because the blade spillage can mostly happen because of being hard and dense wood.

Proper handling of the material is important when carving. Your carving tools will damage multiple times if you do not handle the wood properly.

Is oak good for chainsaw carving?

Yes, oak makes good chainsaw carvings. Oakwood is heavy, strong, and light-colored. The intricate grain patterns of oak make it a popular choice among woodcarvers and furniture makers.

Hand carving red oak is frustrating. The wood is hard and dense. More power is needed if you are a hand carver, as compared to when carving regular woods like basswood and pine.

Is oak an expensive wood

Oakwood is expensive because it is hardwood. Hardwoods are more dense and durable, and they grow much slower than softwood. That makes them more expensive. As compared to all existing woods, oak is the less affordable side because it is hardwood.

Where to buy oak wood for carving

You can buy olive wood from Amazon, Etsy, Alibaba, and Workshop Heaven, WoodCraft.

How to carve oak wood

  1. Gather your material and tools.
  2. Put on protective wear, including a dust mask. 
  3. Mix distilled water and alcohol with a 40/60 proportion in a bottle
  4. Spray the wood in the solution
  5. Allow the wood to absorb the water so that it does not splinter and becomes easier to carve. 

Tips for hand carving oak

  • Be careful of the design you are carving. For an open grain of the wood for a highly frustrating and unpleasant carving experience, it should not be too detailed.
  • When estimating how long the carving will take you, do not work with an estimate because it takes more time. Multiply your estimate by at least twice, and then add some more.
  • Make a practice piece to get used to the wood and the gouges/chisels you will need before you start on the actual work. You might not have a full-size oak piece, but you need a bit for trials.
  • Check the pattern/measurements before you start to avoid mistakes on a carving that cannot be corrected. 
  • Secure the work to your bench to avoid random movements of the piece moves during a cut. Failure to do so ruins the whole design.
  • Make sure that your tools are sharp and keep them honed. Carving should be easy, quick, and smooth. When you carve, it should feel like a hot knife cutting through butter.
  • Use shallow cuts and build up to the depth you want. Although it is more time-consuming, it makes carving easier.
  • Try to use a carving mallet as much as you can, to save your hands and control the cuts.
  • Avoid working long hours on the job. Oak is hard on the hands, which may over time cause a strain.

Things you can carve with oak wood

  • Wall art.
  • Carve Oak box
  • Gouge rack
  • Signboard
  • Flowerpots
  • Rings
  • Sculptures (animals, humans, plants).

Advantages of oak wood

  • Strong
  • Durable
  • Food safe
  • Non-toxic.

Disadvantages of oak wood

  • Not ideal for beginners 
  • Poor workability
  • Tools gey damaged easily
  • Absorb moisture easily
  • Difficult to use for spoon carving.
David D. Hughes
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