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Everyone has seen chainsaw carvings before; they are beautiful and quite graceful to behold. Until very recently I didn’t understand how chainsaw carvers could take a widow-maker of a beast, a tool used to fell great spires of lumber, and carve something so elegant with it. Here’s the trick — they don’t. They run a small saw with a dime bar on it.

It’s not something you hear anybody really talk about. Just watch any show with a chainsaw artist on it and the narrator hardly even pauses to mention it, “…and here so-and-so reaches for a smaller saw for the detail.” What they glance over is that often it’s a tiny saw, maybe even an electric saw with a 12” dime bar attached to it.

The dime or 1/4″ carving bar on a small saw is what makes intricate chainsaw carving possible. The chain is run a little looser, and without a guard link around this little bar it somehow becomes magical. In the hands of a skilled artist the combination of the small saw, small tapered nose, and modified chain make it a sculptor’s dream to operate. Any shape can be coaxed out of the wood very quickly, which means you can rough cut anything smaller than a car in under a few hours.

This of course isn’t saying that running a chainsaw is safe. A chainsaw by definition is un-safe. However the size of the chain and bar, the fact you will not be felling giants with it, and the limited amounts of material you’ll be removing at a time do move it down on the danger level — a trifle.

I might have to give this a shot sooner or later.

Chainsaw Carving Gear [Log Home Store]


4 Responses to The Secret Weapon Of Chainsaw Carvers

  1. Cameron Watt says:

    …even an electric saw?

    Am I picking up a hint of anti-electric sentiment or am I out to lunch? What’s wrong with electric saws if you’re working in a shop with electricity? There are some pretty skookum models out there and with no engine to maintain or fuel to pour they’re not too bad if you don’t mind working on the end of an extension cord. They’re cheaper to run as well.

    Since you don’t stop to refuel, it’s easy to loose track of time and you(well, I do) need to be diligent about stopping to top up your chain oil!

    A thought about alternate power sources for chainsaws:

    Once I saw a Unimog sales video online that featured different implements demonstrating how useful the truck could be. One of the things the video showed was what appeared to be a hydraulic chainsaw fun off the Unimog’s pump. In addition to dragging around two hoses, does that mean you need to run a big Mercedes diesel engine to buck logs on the side of the road?

  2. Gary says:

    Specialty saw or not, it still takes skill.

    ‘Course that being said, my wife sneers at those who use powered tools for carving…

  3. Cameron Watt says:

    Gary, she’s surely sneer at me. For carving stone, I use an air hammer 90% of the time; it’s a real life saver. Thanks to air hammers, on a given day of carving, I can choose between a sore shoulder or a tingly hand.

    Yay. Perhaps someone might write a post on the dangers of white finger?

    Handwork has romantic connotations for a lot of people but I advocate using what best fits a situation; whether they’re modern or archaic. Don’t make your job harder than it has to be!

  4. richard till says:

    not all of us carvers do i am a stock saw only carver by choice i refuse to use anything other than stock saws only no disrespect to those who do but i think ppl like me deserve some words of notice that no not all carvers use dime bars ect”

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