One of the most maddening things about a finishing up a woodcarving project is the wait for it to cure out. Will it crack? Will it stay intact? Who knows? A whole host of factors can affect whether or not your spoon, spatula, kuksa, or other project will make it through in one piece. Type of wood, whether it was green or dead when carved, time of year, ambient humidity and temperature, and shape of the piece all play a role. There’s nothing more frustrating than painstakingly carving out a utensil, waiting for it to cure, and then watching it develop a huge split that renders it unusable. But there’s hope.
There is a way to help mitigate the carnage… it’s not foolproof and there are still no guarantees, but it certainly does help. A lot. And the best part is, it’s simple as can be. When you finish your carving (or at least get it to a place where you’re happy with it), simply roll it up in a brown paper bag. It sounds weird, but trust us on this one. Cracks and splits are caused by moisture evaporating from the wood faster than it can compensate, and the fibers separate as a result of the stress. The paper barrier slows the departure of moisture from the wood fibers, and allows the piece to dry in a more controlled manner. Leave it in a cool, dry place for a few weeks, and then pull it out. Chances are, it will have dried nicely and remained intact. However, there are still no guarantees. Don’t send us angry screeds on social media just because your spoon has a crack in it and dribbles soup into your beard. But over time, we’ve proven it to help tremendously. If you’re like us, you’ve got truckloads of small brown paper bags that happen to be in the shape of whiskey bottles. These work great for small spoons, spatulas, kuksas, and other small carvings. Conventional brown paper grocery bags work great for larger serving spoons, ladles, and paddles.
So next time you’re working on a woodcraft project, don’t waste all of your time and effort by leaving its curing to chance… brown bag it, and you’ll thank us later when you’re drinking coffee out of your kuksa and it doesn’t drip into your lap.
Want more practical bushcraft tips like this one in an interactive, hands-on setting? Then join us for Sunday Afternoon Bushcraft: Carving a Kuksa on Sunday, January 27th from 2pm-7pm! Learn more and register now at www.sarcraft.com/sunday-afternoon-bushcraft!