Chainsaw carving is an art that many people do not know about, but it is becoming more popular. It brings the chainsaw’s modern technology to woodworking, an ancient art. It goes back to 1950’s and was developed by artists like Ken Kaiser and Ray Murphy. Chainsaw carving really took off in the 1980’s, particularly after the national televised Lumberjack World Championships.
In 1987, the first World Championship in chainsaw cutting was held. Organizations dedicated to the art form came from being as well as publications with the same interest. In America and other countries, the art form grew due to the Internet. There are now hundreds if not thousands of chainsaw carvers in the US.
Chainsaw carving was considered performance art at one time, but some carvers are creating true works of art. The works are produced in far less time than it would be by using traditional tools such as gouges and mallets. Some artists still use the standard tools, but the chainsaw is the main tool being used.
Chainsaw chains and blades, specially made for carving, have been developed. The blades are actually called guide bars. The bars have extremely small noses in chainsaw carving. This allows the artist to produce details that they could not capture using a standard guide bar. The guide bar’s chains are altered by making the length of the teeth shorter.
This is done to enable them to make efficient cuts at the bar’s tip. The grounds for the alteration is that chains produced presently are designed to be used only on standard guide bars. Companies such as Canon, GB, and others make carving bars. These bars have an advantage over standard bars in that when using the tip there is no kick back, making them safe when compared to conventional bars.
It takes a great deal of instruction and practice in order to operate a chainsaw safely. To be a skilled carver, this should also be followed by studying, practicing, and carving the basic shapes that will lead to more elaborate projects. Chainsaw carving is an art that is still developing. Some artists are employing other hand tools for extra detail.
It is imperative when working with a chainsaw that protective clothing is worn. This includes chainsaw trousers, eye protection, steel toe boots, ear protection, respirator and head covering if working in the woods. A cut resulting from a chainsaw is not a mere scrape. An entire centimeter of flesh and bone can be taken away. Death can occur rapidly due to blood loss.
Chainsaw artists have founded two guilds, The Cascade Chainsaw Sculptors Guild and the United Chainsaw Carvers Guild. They are both nonprofit organizations and put out newsletters. Their goal is to promote chainsaw art and to share ideas among artists.