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  • Old growth redwood

    The son's father-in-law gave me some old-growth redwood. He would like a coat of arms covered in one piece.

    Not have any knowledge of this wood, I need all the advice I can get before starting. The growth rings are very close together.

    I'm thinking Watco Danish Oil, Tung Oil,????.

    He is a contract & was in charge of the remolding of the Cal-Neva Lodge at Tahoe lake and this wood that came out of the remote and wood was torn out of the lodge, and he is using it to finish a patio, Mike says he has a 55 gal barrel that he is throwing the cut-offs in for me.

    I had read that old-growth redwood was good for carving; therefore, want to make the best use of it.
    . . .JoeB

  • #2
    It's going to be a lot like old western red cedar. Brittle and splits out a lot until you "learn the wood" = what you can and can't do. Any piece that pops off and falls on the floor, you will never find again.

    Make stop cuts, don't go full depth (maybe 1/4) and carve towards those cuts to prevent long run-out splits. A 1/12 carver's chisel with a double bevel (20 degrees total) is big enough. That's approx 1/2" wide.

    Because the wood is soft and brittle, you need to really be on top of your sharpening game.

    Any wood with 15+ growth rings per inch will carve very well. Just shallow cuts until you get used to it.

    For finish, I have always used MinWax Tung Oil Protective Finish on everything except the spoons and forks that got the olive oil finish. Food safe when cured.
    One coat is satin, 4 coats is water-wet glossy.
    Brian T

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    • #3
      Once finished it is beautiful but Redwood sucks. I have made three pieces in Redwood I have no interest in doing another. The edges of the growth rings are hard enough to roll the of an OCCT gouge. The wood in between the rings is soft and will cup out when sanding. Be careful about the grain because it will lift and run the length of the piece. Oh ya, wear gloves on both hands the splinters love to work into your skin your hands will look like they have measles the next morning. Don’t try for to much detail. Other than that it a joy, did I mention the finished wood is beautiful?

      The dog is water poly the Sea Lion is oil based poly.
      You do not have permission to view this gallery.
      This gallery has 2 photos.
      Last edited by Nebraska; 06-12-2021, 05:02 PM.
      Ed
      https://www.ebay.com/sch/bmart50/m.h...1&_ipg=&_from=
      Local club
      https://www.facebook.com/CentralNebraskaWoodCarvers

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      • #4
        I've carved several items from old growth redwood. Here are a couple: You can see the carving tools I used for them. The wood can be splintery, and carving against the grain is not possible, no matter how sharp your tools are - it will split and run on you. I didn't put any finish on these, just left them as carved. I didn't think they needed anything...

        Claude
        bear2.jpeg OliviasBear.jpeg
        My FaceBook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ClaudesWoodCarving/
        My Pinterest Page: https://www.pinterest.com/cfreaner/
        My Instagram Page: https://www.instagram.com/claudeswoodcarving/
        My ETSY Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ClaudesWoodcarving

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        • #5
          I started carving at age 12, whittling toy guns from Sequoia Redwood at a place called Shake Camp (east of present day Springville, CA) It was called that because they used to split fence rails and roof shakes from the redwood logs. So obviously, it splits. It carved rather nicely, taking the details of a lever-action Winchester rifle and a double-barreled shotgun. Sorry, no photos remain. The year was 1944.

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          • #6
            No carving but worked a bit of redwood back in the 60's for various work and wasn't impressed with it. It split, cracked, and generally was a pain. Wish you luck Joe, and it requires more skills than I have.
            Bill
            Living among knives and fire.

            http://www.westernwoodartist.com

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            • #7
              It takes some time and some practice to "learn the wood," as I have said before.
              I still practice, all these years later. Sit in the shop and make chips. I have no plans whatsoever
              to work on an actual carving. Even how to hold and use a crooked knife.

              The challenge right now is to do a respectable job of texturing surfaces with an elbow adze.
              I'm trying to make my RH strikes look like my LH strikes. Some days close, some days not at all.

              I use western red cedar almost exclusively. I have no problems with long run-out splits or pieces popping off any more. Stop cuts are essential. You see this over and over, watching First Nations carvers. You must have your "A" game sharpening edges for such soft wood.

              My sole claim to discovery was learning the importance of the ring count per inch.
              It was an expensive lesson with a pile of very pretty wood, straight grained and knot free.
              Six rings per inch and it truly was fence boards and deck boards.

              I'll predict that all of this is directly applicable to (Sequoia) red wood. Go to the lumber yard and look through the 4x4 fence posts for one with 15-40 rings per inch. That, you will enjoy.
              Go in spring and early summer when all the fence and deck wood is in.
              Brian T

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              • #8
                I found my redwood at a recycle yard near Eureka, CA. I think the pieces (roughly 12x8x24 inches, had been used as spacers between concrete and the floor joists on an old house or factory building.

                Claude
                My FaceBook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ClaudesWoodCarving/
                My Pinterest Page: https://www.pinterest.com/cfreaner/
                My Instagram Page: https://www.instagram.com/claudeswoodcarving/
                My ETSY Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ClaudesWoodcarving

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                • #9
                  Cedar shake blocks are 24" long by definition. Claude, your mention of 12"x 8" is a lot like the shake blocks of clear cedar that I buy from a local mill. Cedar splits so precisely that I buy 5" x 5" x 64" clear posts as another fine source of carving wood. I look over the cedar fence post bin in the big-box hardware stores. Bought 2 cedar 4 x 4 x 96 one day, 20-40 rings/inch.

                  Once again, it takes some time to learn the wood. Those lessons apply to the other conifer woods that I've carved (yellow cedar, pine, spruce).
                  Brian T

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                  • #10
                    Brian, I counted the growth rings=30 per inch, when my eyes stopped watering.

                    & Ed, I'm sure I'll probably go with the water-based poly, I feel that with oil on this read, made a couple of swatches, it is too dark.

                    Just cleaning off an area to make the swatches, it cut easily, by as warned it splinters. Got a strong feeling I'll be getting a mask out and doing lots of power carving.

                    Thanks for all the replies from the WCI Book of Knowledges!


                    . . .JoeB

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                    • #11
                      30 rings per inch is good cedar for carving. Shallow cuts and stop cuts. Hope you enjoy that.

                      With one of my 2-handed planer knives, I can cut a curly 24" long shaving, no problem.
                      Split what I need, plane to fairly smooth for the drawing, get carving.
                      Green childrens' crayons show good contrast for the drawing.

                      I've use a lot of MinWax Tung Oil Protective Finish. I like how it reacts with cedar.
                      Brian T

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                      • #12
                        Thanks Brain.
                        . . .JoeB

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                        • #13
                          I have a decent supply of smallish red cedar blocks that I got at no cost...nightmare to carve, didn't take me long to throw in the towel on that try.
                          Arthur

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                          • #14
                            Arthur, I need to try at least once to make a Coat-of-Arms for the fellow who gave me the piece I've got.

                            Right now the trouble I'm having is finding his Cot-of-Arms. His name is Mac Clennen. All I can find is the septs of the name Mac Clennan, But not coat-of-arms.

                            When I start I think it is going to be power carving, not that it is hard, but to hold the detail and to keep from splattering.
                            . . .JoeB

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                            • #15
                              Joe, is that Mac Clennen for sure, or could it be MaClennan? I did find a coat of arms and family crest for the latter, look on pinterest. And a family crest for Clennan, at 4crest.com. I am looking forward to how this works out for you. I have a large redwood burl slab that I have been trying to decide what to make of it, and after reading all the comments about redwood, I am starting to think "tabletop".

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