If you’re an artistic type of person but oil painting just isn’t dangerous enough to satisfy your creative needs, consider chainsaw carving. Though it may sound like a crude art, in the hands of a skilled craftsman, or craftswoman, a chainsaw can produce surprisingly delicate and intricate details. Like Renaissance sculptors of marble, a chainsaw artist possesses the ability to look at a stump of wood and intuitively know how to remove all the bits that aren’t part of a bear, or a mermaid or a graceful arching swan.
There’s a Class for That?
Have you ever felled a tree or cut a cord of wood? Even if you haven’t, you may still be a viable candidate for chainsaw carving, as long as the idea of wielding a set of rotating, razor-sharp teeth doesn’t turn your spine to jelly. Getting comfortable with a chainsaw is the first step to learning to carve with one. Believe it or not, there are chainsaw carving schools, camps and workshops all over the country where you can learn the basics, and beyond, of this surprisingly popular folk art. A chainsaw competition is the perfect place to network with other enthusiasts. You may even meet a skilled artist who’s looking for an apprentice to teach. If all else fails, you can order a set of instructions and a “blank” (a pre-shaped stump of wood) from a carving supply retailer and take a stab at it on your own.
Chainsaw carving isn’t the most expensive hobby you could choose, but there are some costs involved. You might opt to start with a beginner’s saw (more on the carving equipment later) but one place you don’t want to skimp is on safety equipment. Yes, it can be dangerous. Any number of horrific accidents can happen when a chainsaw’s involved, but the whirring blade isn’t the only safety concern – or even the main one.
Flying wood chips, constant loud noise and unwieldy stumps of wood can be the cause of serious injury to your eyes, ears and toes. Expect to invest in a pair of Kevlar-reinforced chaps and gloves, steel-toe boots, a hard hat and ear and eye protection. Personal safety gear alone could cost 500 dollars or more.
A Kit to Get You Started
Yes, you can make a chainsaw carving with the same blade you use to trim a tree or cut lengths for the splitter. As long as the chain is sharp and you can handle the saw with ease, it’s appropriate for carving. Master carver and instructor Dusty Foster recommends a professional gas chainsaw with a 14-inch bar and anti-kickback chain for beginners. Basic chainsaw carving kits are available for around 400 dollars. As you become more adept, you may want to acquire other tools such as a rotary grinder, a wood-burning tool, a collection of heavy-gauge extension cords and a variety of different carving bars. Basic chainsaw carving kits are available for around 400 dollars.
Whether your goal is to become a professional artist or you’re just looking for a way to marry your love of art with your love for operating dangerous power tools, chainsaw carving is a unique and expressive hobby anyone with a reasonable amount of upper-body strength and good hand-eye coordination can enjoy. Making a piece of art out of an unwanted stump and a clumsy-looking chainsaw truly does take time and talent. And, let’s face it, it’s also darn cool.
Danielle writes on behalf of Sears and other brands she uses. In her free time, she enjoys turning yard waste into toothpicks with her chainsaw. Read her work at eatbreatheblog.com.