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Is This Sap?

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  • Is This Sap?

    I’m actually not a woodcarver myself, but love woodcarvings. I got this wood carved bear years ago. Probably 4 years ago. I oiled it 3 years ago and 2 years ago. I’m about to oil it again. I noticed a weird growth/sap look on its eye though. Is this a sap or some kind of fungus? Want to make sure I do whatever is needed for it. See attached for an image. Thank you.

    79E08955-7D07-4927-8B89-315F9D683483.jpeg
    Attached Files

  • #2
    I am no authority on this, but it looks like a wood resin to me. I am not sure what could be done, I'd probably leave it. Maybe some one else can give you better advice.

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    • #3
      Any idea what the wood is? Looks like sap/resin to me.
      Some conifer trees develop "pitch pockets" in the wood, maybe a teaspoon of goop or more = messy.
      Could be this one sprung a leak!

      See if it's hard enough to pick at it with a sharp knife point, you might be able to chip it all off.
      No more oil = just a dust catcher.
      Brian T

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Robson Valley View Post
        Any idea what the wood is? Looks like sap/resin to me.
        Some conifer trees develop "pitch pockets" in the wood, maybe a teaspoon of goop or more = messy.
        Could be this one sprung a leak!

        See if it's hard enough to pick at it with a sharp knife point, you might be able to chip it all off.
        No more oil = just a dust catcher.
        Unfortunately, I have no idea what wood it is. There was a guy on the side of the road selling his carvings and my wife wanted the bear...thus we have a bear!

        I thought it was probably sap. It’s very hard and very smooth to the touch. Thought it may be a fungus or something, so I thought I’d ask.

        Are you saying to STOP oiling it? Or if no oil it becomes a piece of junk? Just confirming!

        Thank you both.

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        • #5
          I know that roadside chainsaw artist I bought a Big horn sheep (cottonwood log) and a bear (spruce log).
          They both got dried and the fuzzies were burnt off with a blowtorch.
          They both got a generous slop of MinWax brand poly urethane.
          Nothing else for the past 10+ years. Don't know how the carving would become a piece of junk
          You should see real totem poles after 60 years with nothing at all ever done to them.
          I have only 8 carvings out in the weather, In 5 years, they haven't even cracked yet!

          I'd expect a fungus to contain some water = soft/pliable/plastic.
          If this stuff is hard and cracks and pops off in chunks, it's sap for certain.
          Brian T

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Robson Valley View Post
            I know that roadside chainsaw artist I bought a Big horn sheep (cottonwood log) and a bear (spruce log).
            They both got dried and the fuzzies were burnt off with a blowtorch.
            They both got a generous slop of MinWax brand poly urethane.
            Nothing else for the past 10+ years. Don't know how the carving would become a piece of junk
            You should see real totem poles after 60 years with nothing at all ever done to them.
            I have only 8 carvings out in the weather, In 5 years, they haven't even cracked yet!

            I'd expect a fungus to contain some water = soft/pliable/plastic.
            If this stuff is hard and cracks and pops off in chunks, it's sap for certain.
            Gotcha. I didn’t mean junk, I should have said cracked or messed up.

            Okay! Well, I’ll assume it’s sap based off what you’ve told me and I will also stop piling it. Thank you!

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            • #7
              I confess that I did a pair of Ravens, about 30" x 12" x 3" thick.
              They got 1, maybe 2(?) slops of acrylic black exterior house paint.
              They stand in the weather in Vancouver, BC, bolted to thick slab stone bases.
              I saw them last, 6-7 years ago. They were cracked so much, they looked really old.
              I'm quite satisfied.

              If your carving cracks, just remember: for dead stuff, it moves.
              Brian T

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              • #8
                Looks like a mini-ball from a Round Ball hunting gun. Can you scratch it in a spot that doesn't show ? See if it is silver metal. Or hard like epoxy. I bet mini-ball.

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                • #9
                  I'm in the process of refinishing some lawn and garden signs for my wife. I made them for her aq number of years ago and the weather is starting to get to them. In fact, the one that was totally exposed to the elements had quite a bit of mold on it and the mold actually penetrated the protective coating that I had applied. However, this is not my first rodea on refurbishing her signs so I did as I always do. I put it in the deep sink and sprayed it with Chlorox clean-up. After letting the sign sit for about five minutes I took a stiff bristled brush and scrubbed the living daylights out of it. After a thorough rinsing I let it dry and then sanded (using a mask) off any loose material that still remained. I then rewashed it with chlorox and now it's drying so that I can repaint it. I'd recommend the Chlorox treatment before working on anything that's been outside or even inside if it's origin is not known. Just don't let the item sit in the water. Over wetting a piece of wood can cause it to crack upon drying.

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                  • #10
                    I agree with the Chlorox treatment for moldy things. We used 10% Chlorox as a bench wipe in our microbiology (bacterology) lab benches.
                    This is a global standard. The Chlorox chlorine kills everything, virus included. Those bench tops were factually cleaner than most kitchens.
                    Brian T

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                    • #11
                      I presume(?) that the round thing is the eye ball and not the issue at all.
                      Instead, it's the snotty looking mess to the right of the 'eye.'
                      Brian T

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                      • #12
                        I would agree with Robson Valley, it does look like a pitch pocket opened. One suggestion, if you'er worried about how to approach restoring it, see if there is a local chainsaw carver that might be willing to take a look at it and give you some options. Most of the carvers I know are more than happy to give you some helping advice.

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                        • #13
                          Have you tried using a heat gun on the “sap” to see if it softens, you can then smell it, where do you live. I think most chainsaw carvers carve pine or hemlock here in New England, which definitely bleeds resins/pitch. If it’s a piece of hemlock it could be a fungus but the start of reshi it’s generally lighter unless it’s old and didn’t fully develop. You can scrape it off after it has been softened, it will likely come back if it’s a sap well. I’d heat gun it until it’s soft or just scrape it(some times easier to do when it’s hard) sap can be hard to fully remove and then finish with a colored stain. The stain doesn’t penetrate into the wood and the color dosent absorb into the wood fibers. You could just pretend the bear had pink eye

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