Beginners Guide on How to Stain Basswood for Carving Purposes

How to Choose the Right Type of Wood for Carving

As a beginner, it’s best to know how to choose your wood for carving before finishing:

Based on its function

What is the purpose of your art of carving? You must know the function of your woodworking carve.

For example, any kitchen tool carvings (bowls, spoons, etc.) should be made with hardwoods (ash or oak wood) that absorb moisture. Thus, it would be more durable with hardwood.

Easy to work with

Woods such as basswood or pine are excellent for producing quality work with minimal effort. They are easy to carve and will cause limited damage to carving tools.

In contrast to hardwoods such as white oak, it is difficult to work with. Thus, causing damage to carving tools if not handled properly. 

The direction of the wood grain

When the carving follows the wood grain, the result will give a smoother finish. Basswood, for example, gives excellent results when used along the wood grain.

Thus, you can do a quick test to see which wood works best for you.


Not all wood is safe to process. Some woods are toxic and may irritate. Thus, turning the skin red or swollen. However, some woods are considered safe for carving (basswood, oak, or pine).

Avoid wood with a strong odor.

Some types of woods emit an unpleasant odor that may cause headaches. Especially if you are planning to sell your carvings, you shouldn’t be selling artwork that emits a very strong smell. 

Check for wood defects.

Before starting to carve, checking the raw wood for any defects is a good idea. You need to make sure whether the wood can be used or not.

The Art of Carving

Doing woodworking and wood carving is an eye-catching hobby for beginners like you.

The art of wood carving is all about producing wooden objects or carved ornaments from wooden objects. Some of the benefits of wood carving:

  • Add an artistic value and natural effect to an object or furniture.
  • Change a wooden object and furniture from plain to aesthetics worth selling.
  • Creating characteristics in wooden furniture.

Why Use Basswood?

The most popular carved wood, basswood, is a soft wood that is very easy to work with. It is also the most popular choice of wood carving for beginners.

It can be used to make a wide variety of wooden art or furniture. This wood is odor-free and accepts wood stains well. 

When it comes to staining basswood, it will produce a natural finish. It is porous and very soft, making it ideal for staining.

Therefore, basswood is easy to find and inexpensive. Thus, making it a great wood to start learning how to carve.

Wood Stain Types Suitable for Basswood

For beginners, it’s best to give a natural finish to stain basswood. It’s not just applying varnish on your carved wood.

Other application tools need to be done. The type of stain recommended to stain basswood for the finishing process is sanding sealer, your choice of wood stain color, and a clear coat.

To stain basswood, you will need to use a spray tool. This way, the paint solution can reach difficult areas of the carved wood.

So, how do you stain basswood? What are some of the ways and also some of the things you’ll need to stain basswood?

Use a Spray Gun or a Paint Brush to Stain Basswood

Using a spray gun would be easier to stain basswood. You can use a brush with soft nylon bristles if you don’t have one.

With a brush, it will coat the hidden parts of the carving. Use a new and pointy brush to avoid brush marks. Make sure the brush size is different for each wood surface.

For large wooden furniture, use a brush with a size of more than 3 inches. Meanwhile, for the carving of smaller objects, use a smaller brush.

Mix Stain Basswood with Thinner

Mixing wood stains with thinner will make your paint look better, especially on basswood. The stain basswood being too thick will certainly make it difficult to mix.

Thus, making it very hard to apply, taking a longer time to dry, and there may also be accumulated paint.

To be able to mix stain basswood and thinner, you can do the following:

Make sure the stain used is solvent or oil-based

Do not use water-based stains that need to be mixed with water. Read the rules on the wood stain can. Each wood stain brand will have a different ratio for mixing stains and thinner.

Prepare your thinner

Mix bit by bit of stain and thinner according to the instructions on the paint you are using. Mix well. If it still looks thick, add an extra drop of thinner.

Step-By-Step for Using Water-Based to Stain Basswood


Sand the carved wood surface with coarse sandpaper. Make sure all parts are reachable for sanding. Then, clean sandpaper dust thoroughly.

Add sanding sealer

Mix the sanding sealer with water, then put it into a spray tube. Spray the sanding sealer evenly over the entire wood surface. Wait for this layer to dry. Continue with the sanding process.

Add wood stain

Mix wood stain with water. Mix well, then spray the wood stain over the surface until evenly distributed.

Sand again

Wait for the stain to dry evenly. Then, proceed with threshold sanding. Clean sandpaper dust.

Layer with a clear coat

Continue with the application of the clear coat. Mix the clear coat with water. Then, spray the paint over the entire wood surface until evenly distributed. 

The drying process might take one full day. There are two types of finishing results you can get. First is a glossy appearance with a clear coat gloss. The second is a natural look with a matte clear coat.

What to Use to finish the Carving after Staining?

For finishing, once you stain basswood, it all depends on your preference. You can either finish after staining or not use anything at all.

However, you may choose a varnish to finish your basswood carving. You can first experiment with varnish on a piece of wood before applying it directly to the carving.

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