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Unsticking a Great Carving from a Cheap Stand

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  • Unsticking a Great Carving from a Cheap Stand

    Dear Forum Members,

    A couple of months ago I acquired a great little wood carving that is glued to a very cheap wood stand. The carving is of a human figure that does not stand on its own, so a stand is necessary, but the original owner opted to just glue it to a plywood base - that looks horrible. The carving definitely deserves a much nicer stand, with a metal support - without any need to use glue. My problem is - the carving is probably pretty valuable, and fragile, and I'd like to find a solution to remove it from the current base in the best way to eliminate the risk of damage. I'm not sure what kind of glue was used, though I suspect it was an ordinary household glue. It's been glued to the base for about 40 years.

    Thus far I have not tried anything, and would really appreciate whatever advice you'd care to share. I have not wood working skill, and no tools to speak of, but I'm really keen to do right by this wonderful little carving.

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    WhatsApp Image 2020-08-27 at 12.22.45.jpeg

  • #2
    My first thought is recalling watching the Antique Roadshow they always say things are worth more when left in original condition. So you may want to ask an appraiser’s opinion. If I was determined to remove that base I’d use a hand chisel and carefully remove each layer or ply of the plywood base taking care because it appears the carving extends into the base. Also did you consider we would be curious folks and would like to see the whole carving?

    Living in a pile of chips.


    • #3
      It appears to be glued to the base with wood glue that has oozed out of the joint. If it's thoroughly dry it might be separated with a sharp blow with a hammer. I also question the value of the carving. From what we can see the proportions of the legs & feet are very stylized (not realistic). Value, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder.


      • #4
        Why remove it? The stand it is on could be made to look better. There are a lot of options for trimming the edge, and paint or varnish could add a lot. But like was already mentioned, have it appraised first, you may want to do nothing.


        • #5
          If after all is said and done you still wish to remove the base, I'd trim the base with a coping saw close to the figure and carve off the remaining bit under the feet.


          • #6
            Goof Off?????????????
            . . .JoeB


            • #7
              Originally posted by Arthur C. View Post
              If after all is said and done you still wish to remove the base, I'd trim the base with a coping saw close to the figure and carve off the remaining bit under the feet.
              I second the motion. Some glues have ways to become unglued (heat, steam, shear stress, etc) but you gotta know what glue you are dealing with. If unknown, as appears to be the case here, cutting and carving away the base is safest.
              HonketyHank toot toot


              • #8
                Thanks to all of you for your feedback and advice. I really appreciate it. Now, I need to decide between HonketyHank/Arthur's advice to cut away as much of the base as possible, and finish by fine carving around and under the feet vs. Sappy's idea to simply make the existing stand look nicer. Both great alternatives.

                HonketyHank - I've also read that white vinegar and/or alcohol can be used to dissolve glue, as an alternative to heat or steam. One worries about the damaging the visible finish of the statue, of course.

                The carving is a traditional Polynesian form - extremely stylized as Pallin commented, but that's exactly the appeal for us collectors...



                • #9
                  Or you could inlay the base into a larger one


                  • #10
                    I would cut a nice piece of wood that would look good. Cut a hole in it deep enough to fit the base flush. That would hide the layers of the plywood.


                    • #11
                      After looking at this, as Ed/Nebraska said in your first response Ask about antiquity and conditions first? Then take a dare as you wish I like the carving as it is. Good luck.
                      Always hoping for a nice slice that won't need sanding!



                      • #12
                        If you want to remove the base I would cut away everything but the actual bit under the feet with small saws. With the piece supported on its side with an old cloth, piece of foam or something to prevent marks. I would then cut away3/4 of the plywood leaving only one ply left glued to the foot.

                        The last ply layer I would hand sand down to the base of the foot.

                        This method would apply NO FORCE to the actual carving and would prevent the possibility of potential damage.

                        Another option would be to just power carve the base away with a burr in a dremal.

                        Just a thought.


                        • #13
                          Since you do not have the working skills nor tools then I would leave it alone, ....for one# the aged the legs may break if you start messing with it. If you want a nice base pay someone who knows what they are doing for the job that it would be worth peace of mind so you do not ruin the statue....unless you really want to risk it.


                          • #14
                            Too many unknowns to suggest a "repair." My Dad did a lot of antique repairs and much of it is professional knowledge, skill, and art. Find a professional to do it for you, is my suggestion. Please post your resolution.

                            Living among knives and fire.