Complete Guide To Preserving a Chainsaw Carving

If you ever wondered how to seal your chainsaw bear carving or how to give a good finish to your chainsaw carving, this is our topic of discussion today. Preserving your carving is very important as you really want the wood to stay in a good condition for as long as possible. To preserve your chainsaw carving well, a lot has to be done. So here is what you have to do to ensure a long lifespan for your chainsaw carving:

To preserve your chainsaw carving for as long as possible you must seal it with an oil such as the danish oil or decking oil. Apply multiple coats of the sealer with daily intervals between each coat. Reapply the sealer regularly during the first year, and only once per year after the first 12 months. Keeping your chainsaw carving away from direct sunlight and water exposure will also increase its lifespan.

In this article, you will learn all the theory and best practices when it comes to preserving your chainsaw carving for as long as possible. If you are relatively new to chainsaw carving, we would also recommend for you to check out our article on how to learn chainsaw carving. Without further ado, let’s start with the theory of preserving chainsaw carvings.

How To Preserve a Chainsaw Carving

First of all, you will need to apply many coats of oil onto your wood. You can do that with either a brush or a rag. Different oils are applied differently, so view the instructions for your specific oil, however, usually, you should start with a thin coat, let it dry for at least 10 minutes, clean the surface with a cloth (lint-free) and repeat add the second coat the next day.

You can also “wet” sand the coats in betweenTIP

There are a lot of opinions on what the best sealer for your chainsaw carving is. In our opinion, there is no best one as there are far too many factors that come into play. With that said here are our top 4 oils that are definitely along with the best.

  • Danish oil
  • Decking oil (Personal favorite)
  • Tung oil
  • Boiled linseed mixed with paint thinner

Danish oil that is very slightly tinned is great for almost any carvings. It applies in very thin coats and looks great when finished. There are not many ways that you can go wrong with it either, if you’re not sure which oil to use, be sure to use danish oil.

Decking oil is also very good and a little easier to apply than other oils as you don’t need to wait overnight to apply the next layer. It is our personal favorite and we would recommend other experienced carvers to use it!

Tung oil is usually used for furniture finishes. We have also written about tung oil in our early article about the 5 different ways to finish a wood carving. Tung oil is not our favorite finish, but there is a good reason it is used so much in the chainsaw carvers community.

Finally, the boiled linseed mixed with paint thinner is another interesting but very controversial finish. This one you will have to make yourself by combining the two substances at a 50/50 ratio.
A substitute for boiled linseed is also unused engine oil, however, we find it worse as it is denser and harder to apply.

After you should also paint or stain the wood in the way that you prefer, and finally, finish it with varnish.

If you’re looking to buy any of the oils listed below, click on them in this list below to view our recommendations that can be found on Amazon.

Why is it important to seal the wood?

There are a lot of factors that come into play that determine the lifespan of your chainsaw carving and the method that you will be using. The most important factors are:

  • Is the wood still rooted in the ground
  • How dry is the stump (the older the drier)
  • Is your wood carving painted into a color
  • Full log, or log cut in half
  • The climate of your region

Regardless of these factors, you should seal your wood carving to protect it from potential cracking and splintering, even if you don’t leave it outside. When the wood is sealed with a good sealer, it will dry much slower which is very important for it to adapt to its new state during the first year, as well as any other temperature/state changes in the next years.

If the wood is not sealed and left pure after carving, this will most likely result in a lot of large cracks as the wood dries at an incredibly quick rate, and the wood can’t deal with the stress. That’s why it is very important to seal your Chainsaw carvings. There are plenty of methods to seal your carvings from cracking. Here are our top tricks to stop wood Cracking.

Logs cut in half will have fewer cracks as tension is released and it will be easier for the wood to adapt. Whenever the project allows you to use a half log, we would recommend using it.


If you’re interested in the scientific explanation, If the mold or other bacteria find their way inside the wood, the whole piece of wood will be exposed to breaking. Usually, if the wood doesn’t break it loses its color and becomes black/brown with parts of it missing. Sealing will prevent that. Be aware that sealing after painting will result in a color change which is not always very pretty.

Mst sealers impact the color of your wood. Some more than others, however, keep in mind that if your wood is painted bright colors such as yellow, orange, or white, their change in color will be a little ugly. Darker colors tend to look a little more appealing after the change.

How Often Should You Reapply Sealer To Your Chainsaw Carving

As usual, there is no one correct answer to this, the size of your carving, the layers you previously applied, and of course the weather are just some of the many factors that impact how often you should reapply sealer to the wood.

The best practice for maintaining your chainsaw carving is to reapply the sealer/oil every two weeks for the first year and every 12 months for the following years. If you reapply the sealer every 4-6 weeks instead of the recommended 2 weeks, your carving will still be well sealed, however, not to its full potential. This also greatly depends on the humidity and temperature around the wood.

If you live in an icy and snowy region or perhaps the opposite, right by the beach in a tropical country, you should worry about applying sealer on a more regular schedule. However, if your climate allows for a more relaxed approach, reapplying sealer once per month is probably going to be enough.

Preserving Wood In Very Snowy Conditions

Apart from the four sealers we mentioned earlier, there are dozens more that we haven’t talked about. Two of them will be discussed here.

Marine spar varnish and Sikkens cetol are a very strong and durable finish to your chainsaw carving that will withstand any extreme climate. Where is the catch? Well, these finishes are actually fairly ugly.

While the protection for these sealers is somewhat stronger, the price for the longer lifespan is the color that orange shade of orange that the wood takes.

If the sealer is applied well, it could be considered as the natural color of the log, especially if you don’t know a whole lot about wood. The colors look fairly natural, with the only problem that all carvings finished with such sealers adapt the same look.

There is very little you can do to change the color except for applying it the best way possible, so when applying a sealer of any kind especially the two mentioned above, take it one thin layer by another.

Basic Tips To Preserve Chainsaw Carvings

There is a lot of experience to be shared when it comes to almost anything regarding chainsaw carving. To fully have a feel for it, you need to try it for yourself, but with that said, it is great to know some things in advance. So here are a few of the most important tips to preserve your chainsaw carving.

1. Protect the wood from direct sunlight

Direct sunlight is not great for almost anything. The main reason for that is because the carving heats up on one side and stays cold on the other leading to a few more cracks than it would naturally get. Therefore when possible, place your carvings in shade.

2. When sealing the carving, make sure you cover everything

When sealing the carving, make sure you sealed every centimeter of the wood. Even one little uncovered spot on the wood can result in bacteria or mold getting inside the wood and ruining the whole thing.

3. Raise the carving from floor level

If the carving is standing directly on the floor, water could find its way to penetrate the wood. This will just make it less firm while standing and probably make you do more work on it than needed.

To elevate the carving you can simply place a few stones under it or the wood on a separate log.

4. Check the wind schedule

If you live in a windy region just double-check how firmly your chainsaw carving can stand in one spot. It would really be a shame to wake up and see a carving break because you left it outside during the night.

5. Keep under covers when possible

Of course, you want to display your wood carvings. However, in best practice, it should be kept under the covers to be well preserved. Consider sheltering your carving under the cover at least during the winter or the bare minimum, when you are away from your home.

6.Stir the sealer before applying it

A little tip for the people who are relatively new to working with wood. After you open the sealer, stir it and only later apply. Do not shake the container before opening unless you are really curious about what will happen if you do.

7. Avoid Using Cheap Sealer

Using a high-quality sealer is important, you don’t want to buy it just for the sake of buying it. A good sealer must protect your wood. While you shouldn’t overspend on some luxury brand, make sure you are confident in the quality of the sealer that you buy. If you are unsure where to find good sealers, just use our recommendations that we mentioned here.

8. Brush off the snow

Snow has a tendency to melt before it falls off the carving. This is actually much worse than it may sound. If snow melts and the water will fill the small cracks on the wood, after a while when this water freezes the cracks will grow and be much more visible than before.

To avoid that, try brushing off the snow from your chainsaw carvings when left outside, or at best, let them rest under shelter.

How Long Do Chainsaw Carvings Last

The durability of your wood carving will greatly depend on the specie of wood that you are using to carve and the current age of it. However, to determine the lifespan of your carving, we will mostly look at which of the two types of wood you are using. Rooted, or non-rooted.

If the chainsaw carving is well preserved it will last anywhere between 50-150 years depending on the conditions that it is kept in and the type of the carving. Rooted chainsaw carvings such as carvings out of trees or stumps will last as long as the tree lives, while logs will last around half of that time, around 50-75 years.

Preservation will play a very large role in how well the wood carving looks, but the time until the wood deteriorates is mostly up to whether it is rooted or cut out and carved.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot that you can do to preserve your chainsaw carving for as long as possible. While it is not realistically possible to do everything unless you are really determined to keep your carving in the best condition, however, by following at least some of the above advice such as sealing your carving well and not exposing it to water/sun you will already double its lifespan.

Thank you for reading our article. We hope you learned a lot of new things and that your chainsaw masterpiece will live for as long as it is possible.

Martin Swizz

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

Recent Posts