Chainsaw Carving Tips

Safety should always be the first concern on any project. Proper safety equipment such a goggles, gloves and sturdy scaffolding are very important. The scaffolding should always be moved to the right height and position for safe carving. If your arms feel uncomfortable holding the saw to cut, adjust your scaffolding or you can be seriously injured. Never cut above the waist unless it is with a small electric saw and your arms are fully extended.

Before making the first cut, draw out the main shape of your carving from the front view. Leave about a foot at the bottom for the base. Be sure your saw is as sharp as it can be. A sharp saw makes the job so much easier. A 16 to 24 inch blade will usually do most carvings. Make your wedge cuts by cutting a down angle first and then a straight or slightly upward angle to chunk it out. Once you have made all of your wedge cuts from your markings, it is time to mark the sides.

You have to imagine the profile and be sure to not cut off too much especially from the head. When you have all the main chunks cut out, it is time to start carving with your saw. A 12 inch electric saw is great for shaping out the smaller chunks. Be careful not to cut too deep. You can do much of the final saw work by applying the blade lightly on the wood and raking it back and forth. This will take layers off.

If it is a human carving, you will need to finish it by sanding. You can use a palm sander for the large areas and a die grinder for the smaller areas. You can use the edge of the sanding disk to cut beards, hair or fur. On animal carvings, turn the saw slightly sideways and carve out fur lines with the tip. Some other handy tools to have are wood rasps and wood chisels.

When you have finished carving and sanding, it's time to coat your project with a mixture of half shellac and half mineral spirits. You can leave it natural or paint it. If you do not think you can carve a human or bear, try a mushroom. Above all, keep your mind on safety and have fun. You may be really surprised at what you can do!