Woodcutting is an excellent hobby to get into. People have been carving wood since the dawn of time, and in the modern age, more people than ever are starting to get into woodcarving using chainsaws.
This is a skill that can take many years to master, but everyone has to start somewhere. In this guide, we will look at the best tips and tricks to learning how to start carving wood using a chainsaw. Before you know it, you will be turning an ordinary log into your very own totem pole.
Alternatively, many people use wood carving to create beautiful effigies of animals, people, and fantastic creatures. All you need to start woodcarving is a little bit of gumption, a quality chainsaw, and some spare time to learn.
What Do I Need to Start Chainsaw Woodcarving?
To start woodcarving, you are going to need a few pieces of equipment.
Chainsaw: Obviously, you need a good chainsaw that is reliable and cuts extraordinarily well. You definitely want to have a sharp chain so that you can cut away big portions of wood without struggling.
As for the size of your chainsaw, it is going to depend on your preference, how big your piece of wood is, and what kind of wood you will be cutting.
PPE: Then you need to pick up some personal protective equipment, also known as PPE. Chainsaws are not toys. These are extremely dangerous tools that can send you to the hospital if you are not properly prepared. A giant spinning blade that can cut through wood can definitely cut through you without much trouble.
I always recommend that people who will be woodcutting with a chainsaw to get some kind of safety chaps to protect their legs. One of the biggest things that can happen is that a sudden kickback sends the chainsaw swinging down at your leg to cause some serious damage.
You will also need protective goggles, protective earmuffs, steel-toed boots, special woodworking gloves, and an appropriate safety helmet.
Coating: If you want your carving to last a lifetime, you need a good finishing material. By applying the proper wood coating to your sculpture, your sculpture will look exactly as you intended it to, and it will stand up to the strain of time.
There are several different coatings that you can use, like linseed, stain, sealant, and various other treatments.
Special Tools: You are probably not going to be freehand carving for your first few tries. To get the desired results out of your sculpture, you will need to pick up some specialized tools, like sketching tools and pattern tools. You can also pick up some special chisels to make small adjustments.
Sketching tools are used to help you plan your sculpture. You can draw the lines on the piece of wood and then cut your form using the chainsaw. This is highly recommended for beginners, as your imagination may outpace your handwork.
How to Pick the Right Chainsaw for Wood Carving?
Here is where a lot of confusion comes from. People simply don’t know how to start carving wood because they don’t know what chainsaw to use. Let me first say that it does not matter if you use electric or gas. It has nothing to do with the final product.
However, the size of your piece of timber does have a lot to do with your final product, and so you want a chainsaw that matches your piece of wood.
If you were a skilled professional carving a 7-foot totem pole, you could probably use a big chainsaw with a 20” blade. But seeing as how you are only beginning, I would recommend getting a small chainsaw, maybe 14” or less, and working with smaller pieces of wood.
The biggest thing to remember is that you need to be comfortable and confident. If the chainsaw is too big and you feel scared using it, get a smaller chainsaw. The proper chainsaw for you will depend on how well you can orientate your chainsaw to make complicated cuts. If you feel comfortable, like the chainsaw is an extension of your body, then you have found the right tool for the job.
Many people suggest using a chainsaw that has triangular guide bars since these are more efficient at doing awkward cuts. Always make sure your chain has the correct tension, and that all your anti-kickback features are operational. Also, always make sure you have a very sharp chain before you start.
Chainsaw Carving For Beginners: Tips And Tricks
- Learn slowly. Become familiar with all your pieces of equipment, learn exactly how to use them and what each piece of equipment is for, and learn the different types of wood. Always understand the manual of your chainsaw, and always understand your own limits.
- Always wear your safety equipment when working with a chainsaw.
- Prepare a lot of different tools. While a small chainsaw may work for some tasks, you will undoubtedly find yourself in need of additional tools. Always bring a surplus of what you may need, including a grinder, a chisel, and your sketching materials.
- If you are having trouble with your own designs, there is no shame in taking inspiration from carving designs found on the internet.
- Start with a beginner wood, such as mahogany, and slowly work your way up to more difficult wood. Never bite off more than you can chew.
- Practice makes perfect. Start practicing on small chunks of wood doing simple projects. You are not going to carve the Mona Lisa into a giant slab of wood during your first six months of carving. It is not going to happen. Definitely start with a smaller log that is roughly 15” in diameter.
- Consider taking a local carving class. It is always recommended that you gain experience through a professional who knows what they’re doing. You are welcome to begin training in your backyard with guides found on the internet, but a master’s advice is priceless.