Painting vcarves

I’m hoping someone can give me the benefit of their experience. I’m trying to paint my vcarves. I do a carve, then spray lacquer or polyurethane into it, let it dry, then either spray or brush paint into it. After drying I take a few thousandths off the whole thing and no matter how deep I go I see paint runs that have run through the grain outside the carve.
Does anyone have a wood type, paint, sealer or process that they have successfully done this with.
I’ve had a lot of experience with resins, is this the only answer. Thank you for any consideration.

I usually do mine with a coat or 2 of shellac and have had good success with that. It really depends a lot on the type of wood and the grain direction at any given location. If you’re looking at end grain it will require a couple or more coats and if it’s a more porous wood like pine or red oak it will also take more.


Thank you. Wipe on? Or is there a spray shellac?

Yes you need to seal the wood before carving. Dewaxed Shellac works well but lacquer sanding sealer works well as well.

So seal the surface, carve, paint and then sand and/or surface.


I buy spray cans of shellac from Big Orange

1 Like

Like others have said, sealing first is a must–I use the spray shellac (Zinzer). It dries quickly and sands off easily and does not react to any paint or topcoat you might decide to use. But, if I’m carving something really porous, I add a layer of tape (either masking or some of that clear package sealing stuff) after the shellac has dried. I then do my carving. The tape does not always stay put–especially in the tight areas, but it does significantly reduce finishing time.

1 Like

Thank you all for the suggestions. The tape on top is interesting cause I thought the bleed was going horizontally below the surface. But you seem to think the bleed was going from top to bottom and if that’s true than the tape would work very well. I’ll try that along with a the sealer. Thanks again

Wood is made up of straws. When you cut into them you give a path for paint to soak into the straw. Sealing the wood will help prevent the straws from being as open and will soak up less paint. Putting a mask over the carving helps when painting but the paint will still be adsorbed. The masking will help from getting paint on the surface that will need to be removed but even with the mask you still need to seal up the wood fibers/straws with a sealer for the areas you just cut into…


What I have found is to use a 3# cut of de waxed shellac that seals the wood, The you paint the vcarve with brushes and you can use solvent to wipe up the mistakes.

Secondly, I have also done this - Vcarved, shellacked with three coats the entire carving then spray pain the vcarve. Then I run it though my surface sander. This works well for deeper vcarve detail. It sands off a top layer with the over paint, leaving the color int he vcarve.

Thirdly, some use a Oramask film over your entire board prior to carving, then the oramask film prevents the spay paint on non-carved areas, my experience with this has been “Ok”, but not great, get better results with the shellac. Oramask works OK for large letters and bold design, not so well with fine detail.

1 Like

Thanks again everyone. Still at it.

Big Orange? Is this a store? Or is this a reference to Home Depot? :thinking:

This is a pretty good tutorial:

You can skip the sticky paper, do your carving and then seal the complete project and sand off the color you don’t want as has been suggested here already.


This topic was automatically closed after 30 days. New replies are no longer allowed.