Chainsaw preproduction process

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Project by 3DBMe posted 04-25-2008 09:48 PM 1571 views 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Alot of woodworkers I’ve spoken with have mentioned that chainsaw carving is non-linear and difficult to visualize. I will agree with that comment but the difference between a cabinetmakers precision and ‘chainsaw carving’ is that like the carpenter the material to be worked is pre-measured and standard. Standard is not what I want to achieve with a chainsaw, power tools or chisels so I try to ‘pre-visualize’ and measure what I have to work with as much as possible before even touching the wood.

I differ from most of the competition chainsaw carvers you’ve seen. Those guys are incredible and come up with spontaneous and ‘un-scripted’ carvings on the fly in minutes! The same processes apply to me BUT I am not as experienced and am more of a finished sculptor. I intend my work to occupy space IN a home or gallery setting not just an outside yard ornament.

Of course this uncertainty is even more exadurated with grain directions and knots as all woodworkers know. So at times the original view, of this bear for instance, changed as I got further and further into it. Proportions and placement changed to accommodate tools as well. All of us would love to have every tool necessary every time we produce work but “we do with what we have” so the ‘linear thinking’ needs to leave our heads when dealing with larger dimensional pieces. Adapt as the problem or “CREATIVE CHOICE” as I refer to it, occurs and weigh the factors of what options you have versus what you originally had envisioned. I’m not making a Xerox copy but a representation of an idea. “NOTHING YOU DO IS WRONG” just chalk it up to experience and try it again. Even a mistake is useful and can keep you warm in winter!

I’m going to try to explain the methods I use to get as much as I can out of the wood before I cut. I will do this in a couple of these projects. But before I even touch the wood I have an idea of what I want and then do some basic sketch’s and look for picture reference from my own pictures, books and the web so I can blend and refine my drawings with all the little bits I liked from different sources. Get the best reference from as many sources as possible so you understand your subject and make this piece work “Your Own”.

Image 1: Shows the basic layout of the wood only with dimensions and lines. (difficult to see) I also mark placement of knots, grain and cracks and use this to adapt and align my work.

Image 2: This then dictates the direction and posture I intend the Bear to be in. This may immediately change my original drawings so I draw simple outlines of the bear from 4 views (Front, Left, Back, Right) on each side of the wood in a Lumber Marker or Crayon.

Image 3: I start my cuts with the LEAST CRITICAL so I can remove as much bulk as possible without cutting into the bears body parts so I gradually reveal a block figure as shown.

4 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3971 days

#1 posted 04-25-2008 11:28 PM

This helps me visualize the process but I wouldn’t know where to begin with this technique. But I do appreciate the info on the process. Understanding it leads to a better appreciation for the effort that is required to produce the project.

Thanks for the post.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View jjohn's profile


390 posts in 3863 days

#2 posted 04-26-2008 03:09 AM

That’s why I never make mistakes on my projects. If something starts to go the wrong why I just go with the problem and change my mind to what I intended it to be before I knew what it was.

-- JJohn

View SteveKorz's profile


2134 posts in 3863 days

#3 posted 04-26-2008 03:14 AM

thank you, thank you, thank you … i’m eatin’ this up… I’ve wanted to do this for a while.. but didn’t know where to start… I’m listening… er… reading… lol… keep goin’

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View DaleM's profile


958 posts in 3533 days

#4 posted 03-21-2009 08:27 AM

I’m really interested too. I’m also fortunate enough to have a pretty good chainsaw carver about a block away from me. I’ve seen him working before but I need to stop, sit down, and really watch, rather than just driving by. I’ll be watching for your next post on this.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

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