Custom carved badge – Take the green out of poplar and turn it to gold!

The Maiden Police Department saw some carved badges we created for the Forest Lake Police Station… edited-3582

They then ordered a custom 3 ft. badge. They provided this image as a reference.


Next, we spent many hours digitizing the image and designing the CNC carving work paths.

Maiden badge Carvingmaiden badge 2

We glued up 1′ thick poplar boards and began carving with the CNC router…


Next, we began hand carving many textures and forms.


This image shows the progress of the background texture and the floral edges.


This image shows all the hand carved detailing complete! Now it’s time to apply the finish. This is where some magic happened!

If you’ve ever worked with poplar before, you would have noticed a strong green tint to the wood. This green tint is not very attractive, that is why many furniture builders use poplar if they are going to be painting or staining the wood. It’s a great wood to build with, but you have to paint or stain it to cover the unattractive green tint. Until now!! Do I sound like an infomercial?! I discovered there are some products that claim to take away the green tint, so I ran an experiment with 2 products:

1.  Zinsser Wood Bleach


2. Oxalic Acid


On the back of the carving, satin polyurethane was used on the left and the acid on the right. You can clearly see the contrast of tones. The Zinsser did lighten the wood but did not get rid of the green tint. However, the oxalic acid removed the green immediately on contact!!! It is amazing to watch. The oxalic acid that I bought came in a crystalized form. It looks like sugar. I diluted about 1 cup into hot water and simply started brushing it on. It is an acid, so you do want to protect your hands and eyes. It did not dilute all the way, so I stirred it every time I dipped the brush.


Look at the difference! Zinsser on the left and oxalic acid on the right.


This is what the carving looked like before I brushed the oxalic acid on it. You can see the green tint all through the wood.


Here is an image the next day after the wood dried. No green, but rather a light peach color, like maple! There are dried crystals on the wood now.


The draw back to using the acid, is you have to rinse off the wood with water after the acid has dried. Thankfully, the water didn’t cause any warping or splitting issues in the wood as it dried.


This is what the wood looks like wet after the rinse.


Before the oxalic acid…


After the oxalic acid! Wow! What a difference! It looks like maple now!


The water rinse also raises the grain a tiny bit, so after a light and quick sanding, we used the Zar oil, satin, polyurethane and the color turned out amazing! A beautiful, rich gold!


Here are the finished pics!





Check out this video footage of the carving process…

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Gallery of useful links to
tools and products I use daily

I have put together this gallery of useful links to the products and tools I use regularly on most of my projects. Please feel free to contact me with questions about any of these tools or products. If you decide to try these products, would you mind purchasing them through these affiliate links? It doesn’t add to your cost at all, but it does give me a little kick back which helps me to keep producing these informational posts for you all. Thanks so much!

Carving Tools

 dremel  taper  flme   sphere  bit1  mini grinder  belt angle2  disc  disc2 turbo plane  die grinder   14 bar  12 bar

Sanding Products

       soft sander  gator sander  gator sand  sand pad  sander  sander2  discs3  sander3

Finishing Products

    oxalic acid  zar  arborcoat  twp  oil

 Sculpting Materials



Sculpture Books

bear book  eagle book book  faces  whittling  power carve  little guys  whittle2  book2  carve  decoy relief  eagle2  saws  eyes  faces2  portrait  bible