3 ways to Polish a Wood Carving

Polishing your wood carving is the final touch to finish your wood carving. There are different ways to polish wood, the polishing method you choose mostly depends on the style of carving that you are doing, the purpose of polishing, and of course your preference and taste.

The most popular way of polishing a wood carving is applying a polishing compound such as beeswax to the wood after you carved it. However, other alternative methods such as polishing with a Dremel, applying mineral oil, or polishing with lacquer spray, are also used depending on the purpose of polishing for your wood.

In this article, we will go over all of the ways you can polish your wood carving and provide a tutorial with a guide to help you find the right polishing method for the project that you are currently working on.

How To Polishing Wood With Beeswax

Beeswax is by far the most popular finish that a wood carving receives. There are a lot of little details for the best practice of polishing with beeswax that we have a whole separate article about called Wax Finish Tutorial in 6 Simple Steps, so if you know all the details about it, click on the title to check it out.

If you are working with large items such as furniture, beeswax is the most certain choice that you should go with. Beeswax does a lot of good things, such as that it cleans the surface and adds a natural-looking finish to the wood. So, here is how to polish the wood with beeswax:

To polish the wood with beeswax, you should first ensure a smooth surface, which can be done by either sanding or burnishing your wood carving. Remove the wood dust with a brush and proceed to apply the wax with a soft cloth. In a circular motion, distribute the wax thinly over the wood. Then wait 15-20 minutes for the wax to dry, buff, and repeat 2-3 times.

Here are a few very useful tips when applying beeswax to your carving:

  • A makeup brush works extremely well to remove the dust off the wood, if you sand your carving prior to applying beeswax
  • To be sure exactly how long you have to wait for the wax to dry, check the back of the packaging that you bought your polishing compound in
  • You can also use a soft toothbrush to apply the wax to your carving. Some carvers prefer it when working with smaller objects as you can distribute the wax thinner and more even
  • Take your time when buffing between layers, the heat generated will help the next layer take better.

As mentioned before, if you are going to do it for yourself you should head over to a separate article that we have written about finishing with beeswax.

Wood Polish Spray

Primarily there are two finishing polishes that you can spray on wood. It is important you use protective equipment when working with such substances and work in an area with good airflow.

The two most used finishing polishes sprays are:

A lot of woodcarvers don’t often use sprays to finish their wood carvings, however, there are not many cons to using sprays, therefore if you have never used deft spray to finish your wood carving you should try at least once before deciding against using it.

The most tricky part about sprays as finishes to your wood carving is how you apply them. Below you can find a very helpful video that will provide a great tutorial on how to apply aerosol (exactly the same for deft spray) onto wood.


Key takeaways:

  • Test the spray you have to have a good understanding of the distance between the spray and the wood
  • Cover 25% of the previous spray path to ensure no parts of the wood have missed the lacquer
  • Place the spray can at a 45° degree angle to the wood
  • Spray in straight lines and keep your wrist stiff
  • If you’d like to apply a glass finish spray sand the layers before

Final thoughts on finishing with a spray, that it is quite underrated with all its downsides of inconvenience a very large upside to using such a finish is that it is much more long-lasting such as a beeswax finish. As the narrator in the video above said, with the right project and right application Laquer spray finishes will do a very good job.

Polishing With Power Carving Tools

If you are power carving or want to finish your carving with power carving tools it is very possible as well. The basic idea behind finishing your wood carving with power carving tools is to sand from low grit to a fairly high grit.

To polish wood with a power carving tool you should sand it with an attachment to your rotary device starting from as low as 80 grit going up to at least 800 grit. Then you can apply a finishing compound such as the Dialux by polishing first the compound, to let it rub into your tool, and then your wood carving to leave rub in the polish into the wood.

If you have never heard of the finishing compound Dialux, that is because it is mostly used for metal polishing. However, it works extremely well on wood carvings as well.

Dialux can be very different as it is manufactured for a variety of metals. From personal experience, Dialux White Polishing Compound is the only one that works better than beeswax on wood carvings.

You can watch the video below of a start to finish power carving project. At the end of the video, the carver will use the white polishing compound exactly as we recommend to polish his wood carving.

Key takeaways:

  • Start the video at 8:54 to see the polishing process
  • Apply the compound onto your carving bit by “polishing” the compound first
  • Polish the whole of your wood carving with the same bit
  • Apply mineral oil such as the Singer oil or any other suitable for wood mineral oil

How To Make Your Own Polishing Compound

You may come to a decision to make your own polishing compound for many reasons, whether you want something specific, save a little, or for any other reason, making your own finishing compound is a great idea.

In this tutorial, we will show you how to make your won beeswax which is most likely the easiest and most reliable finishing compound that you can make by yourself at home.

To make your own finishing compound you can mix beeswax with pure turpentine at a 1:1 ratio. However, you can experiment with the ratio to make it more or less dense. Mix the two substances in a cooking pot at low temperature and store it in a jar to avoid turpentine to leave the end product.

Pure turpentine will last you a very long time and you can get it at a very affordable price on Amazon.

A useful tip for cooking this finishing compound yourself is to make sure that the texture is creamy and easy to pick up with a rag when applying to the wood.

Final Thoughts

This is everything you need to know about polishing your wood carvings. If you are working on simple or furniture projects then beeswax is your go-to polish, for power carving you can finish with the Dialux compound, and of course, do not forget about trying out spray finishes. Finally, if you want something specific you may make your own polishing compound.

Thank you for reading this article. We hope you learned a lot of helpful new things.

Martin Swizz

Hi! This is Martin, I like to research, experiment, and learn new things related to wood carving and other kinds of woodworking.

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