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A while back our live oak needed some surgery and the arborist ended up having to cut out a pretty sizeable limb. He was going to haul it off so I asked him what would become of it. "Firewood", was the answer... I decided I could do something better.

So after some drying the bark is off and I've started the carving process.

I was wondering though, once I'm done, what's the best way to treat it? I want to keep full sight of the wood grain, and I'm keeping a lot of the natural surface of the limb.

I'm in the south, so wood eating bugs galore, high humidity, high heat. It's going to be outside most likely under cover but will likely get wet when it rains sideways (so not infrequent)

one side stripped of bark

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    It will crack as it dries. If you'd like some control over that, pick a side and cut a slit as deep as the heart (center of growth) of the log from one side, and that will take most of the shrinkage, and reduce random cracking elsewhere. – Ecnerwal Apr 25 '17 at 0:07
  • You could soak it in a big tub of polyethylene-glycol for a few weeks (months maybe?) . The PEG displaces all (or most) of the water in the wood so it won't shrink as it dries and I believe the beasties don't find PEG-impregnated wood particularly tasty ... see this PDF for a bit more detail. – brhans Apr 25 '17 at 11:27
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"deck sealer" or plain old linseed oil. Re-apply regularly.

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