What is Chainsaw Carving?
The art of woodcarving can be traced back thousands of years. Hand carved wooden objects could be either functional objects like goblets or bowls, or ornate ones like sculptures or artworks. It was a way to make life easier and more interesting for people using the medium of natural wood. A lot of the earlier carving work was hand shaped because powered tools didn’t exist like they do now.
Chainsaw carving is based on the same principal of shaping wood into a centerpiece or object that provokes thought like a sculpture. The only difference now is that a chainsaw is used as the main tool of choice instead of simple hand tools.
To give you a better idea what chainsaw carving is all about here is a very interesting video of DiyPete carving a tree stump into a bear;
The art of chainsaw carving became a sport in 1980s and since then, there are a lot of people who have become interested in it. Since time in memorial, different artists have created an unimaginable number of sculptures using different methods and indeed materials. Remember you aren’t just limited to wood with a chainsaw you can also cut other materials like ice, plastic and even concrete with the right setup.
The most successful method of chainsaw carving is wood carving. Simple and popular tools have been found to be the most effective and useful in many cases.
The art of chainsaw carving is growing rapidly as more and more people discover the unique concept of turning what many feel to be boring wood into objects of meaning. Many people are drawn to the idea of chainsaw carving because it combines modern technology with the ancient techniques of carving wood. Wood carving is the skill or the set of skills of carving wood to make beautiful, ornamental and functional objects. Over a long period of time, wood carving has grown tremendously and gone through several changes but it has never died away.
Tools used in Chainsaw carving
Tools used in chainsaw wood carving have also undergone several changes but some of the indigenous tools of the past are still in use. Some of the main tools used in wood carving include:
This is the most useful tool in wood carving. The use of carving knife is a very fun and an inexpensive way to start wood carving. You don’t need a lot of tools to start and also you don’t need large logs of wood. There are several types of carving knives but among the most useful are the paring knife, the detail knife and the chip carving knife.
A paring knife is for cutting through wood and coming out on the other side. What this means is that it needs a longer flatter bevel. A detail knife is for cutting into the surface of the wood. This knife needs a slight curve to the bevel to act as a depth stop. On the other hand, a chip knife is a mixture of the two carving knives that are used in the process.
Small Chainsaw with Roller Tipped Bar
There are several chainsaws that have been tried and tested on their ability to help in wood carving. In this process, a small and a lightweight chainsaw is preferential for the task. The best of them are the new type Battery Operated Chainsaws because they are easy to handle and also requires little maintenance. The other good thing about these battery operated chainsaws is that they are not noisy and don’t produce any harmful Smokey fumes. The requirements for wood carving don’t need horsepower, it’s more to do with skill and dexterity as opposed to brute force and hence these simple rechargeable chainsaws are an ideal fit.
Chain Sharpening Kits such as Gauges Guard and Files
A chainsaw is only as good as the teeth on the chain. Much in the same way you could have the most expensive knife on the planet and if the blade is dull then it’s of no use. This is the reason why you need to sharpen the chain almost every time before use to keep it sharp and maintain its ability to cut. The art of sharpening chains and blades is as old as mankind.
Chainsaw chain sharpening tools are essentially based on the same idea to make a dull chain sharp again. You see as a chainsaw chain cuts through wood it will become dull over time and loose its ability to cut. The solution to this is to ensure the chain is kept sharp and damage free. As you will discover many of the rechargeable chainsaws on the market now have unique built in chain sharpening devices so you simply run the saw and it will self-sharpen. This reduces the need to manually sharpen each chain link one by one as was the case before and still is with many chainsaws.
There have been many advances in the methods of chainsaw sharpening over the years as would be expected. The use of effective chain sharpening tools is vitally important to ensure the machine is more efficient and works as it should. Check out our posts on the types of chain sharpening tools available and why you must use them to ensure your chainsaw is running at its optimum performance and able to cut wood safely.
When handling any machine or indeed work tools, you need to be in full safety wear. Another name for this safety wear is Personal Protective Equipment or PPE. This is the generic name that covers a wide variety of protective equipment covering every industry. It is essentially designed to protect people against a whole range of potential injuries and hazards depending on the task being carried out. There is a whole range of PPE equipment you should consider when using a chainsaw of any type.
We will get into this ppe equipment for chainsaw use in more detail in future posts however some of the basic ones to consider for chainsaw carving include;
Hearing protection especially if you are using a petrol chainsaw but even with rechargeable chainsaws because they are a little noisy and over continued use can cause damage your hearing.
Also have leather gloves or gloves with good grip and thickness to reduce vibration and slippage when handling these machines.
Eye protection is a must have, If possible wear tinted protective goggles or face shield in strong sunlight for the purpose of eyes protection both from uv light and from flying debris like woodchips and dirt and grit. Remember you only get one set of eyes so make sure you protect them each and every time. The smallest particle travelling at speed can cause irreparable damage to the eye and the pain and suffering that goes with it is not worth it, so wear eye protection at all costs.
Good footwear ideally with good gripping soles, lightweight and toe protection. This will ensure stability and protection to the feet from falling objects and crush injuries.
The items listed above are only the basics and will only offer basic protection to you as a chainsaw user. We will list out all the essential chainsaw equipment in future posts and articles so be sure to check those out. This post is not focused on ppe but on chainsaw carving but we felt it necessary to highlight ppe equipment to ensure your safety if considering getting involved in chainsaw carving with your rechargeable chainsaw.
Chainsaw Carving Tips
We know there are several people out there who are interested in chainsaw carving. If you are one of them, then here are some tips that will help you out.
The first thing as stated earlier is that you should be safe. Wear safety equipment such as chaps, eye protection and ear protection.
However, before you even start on the process of chainsaw wood carving, you need to get familiar with some of the operational fundamentals and maintenance requirements of chainsaws especially if you are using a gas powered one. Chainsaws especially the gasoline models can be very risky and that’s why we recommend you have a full safety gear, although even the best safety gear in the world will not protect you in some situations. It’s also important to become familiar with chainsaw techniques and learn the right way to prevent and eliminate the chances of something going wrong. When using a chainsaw it is extremely important to be thinking one step ahead for example if I cut this branch what will happen next?, or if this tree falls where will it end up? etc.
The next step is to ensure that the chain of your chainsaw is sharp. What people don’t know is that a blunt chainsaw is usually riskier than using a sharp one. It is also guaranteed to make your task a whole lot more difficult. So make sure the chain is sharp.
If you are focused on making something that everyone will like, then you should use a smaller chainsaw because in general they will help you achieve a more detailed cut.
You should hold the saw with the dominant hand. What this means is that if you use the left hand, you need to hold the front handle of the chainsaw with it and likewise the opposite is true. This is to ensure that you are confident and stable enough holding the chainsaw. It also means that you have full control of the machine and you are less likely to make a mistake, and you will be more accurate in your cutting.
If you are doing this as a hobby great that’s a fantastic way to start off. Who knows it might even end up as a full time pursuit if you get really good at it. Either way we recommend that you head along and attend the local carving events that take place on a frequent basis.
This is likely to improve your skills and make you a pro in the future. Seeing professionals do the work firsthand is one of the most important things in this career. You will have an opportunity to learn some of the best skills that will definitely help to improve the speed or the quality of your art work. These events are fantastic places to meet likeminded individuals and pick up tips and tricks in a relaxed environment. Even if you aren’t really intent on getting involved you might go along to one of these chainsaw carving meets an see a carved sculpture you really like for sale and end up taking it home with you.
Getting to the professional level requires skill, determination and practice. Practicing means that you will learn from your mistakes and soon you will become better and better and quicker at turning out awesome pieces of craft.
Like with life in general, just be persistent and open to learning new skills whether that be from your mistakes or from other people, videos or books etc. Chainsaw carving is not something that you will learn today and tomorrow you are going to be a pro. You have to spend a lot of time practicing and if possible learning from other professional woodcarvers. Although the whole process may seem difficult, a month or two of practicing and learning can help you sharpen and hone your skills and make you good at what you like.
We hope you found this post useful. The idea of chainsaw wood carving might enable you to get the most out of your chainsaw instead of it just lying in your shed at certain times. Chainsaw Carving can be an enjoyable hobby once you get started and it doesn’t really cost that much to get started. Rechargeable chainsaws are an ideal tool because they are so much nicer to work with compared to petrol engine alternatives. Here are some Free Chainsaw Carving Patterns to get you started on your chainsaw carving adventure.
Please like and share this post with others so they can learn about the wonderful art of chainsaw wood carving and enjoy using their chainsaw for a different purpose entirely. The satisfaction of creating a work of art you have made yourself cannot be described. You need to do it for yourself to realize this sense of satisfaction in creating a unique piece of art that starts conversations.
Thanks Folks and Happy Cutting!