Choosing the right wood to carve with your chainsaw doesn’t have to be complicated, but it can still be difficult if you don’t know what you’re looking for. There are three key factors to keep in mind when choosing the right wood for carving and these are size, grain, and knot content. Keep reading to learn more about choosing the best wood for chainsaw carving and how to identify good quality lumber.
What to Look For in Wood
When it comes to carving wood, there are a few basic things you should look for: straight grain, strong color, and an even texture. You’ll also want to make sure that any branches or knots don’t protrude from the surface of your piece.
The chain saw is extremely unforgiving when it comes to working with knots; if you want detailed carvings, be wary of knots in your wood and try not to work with pieces that have them. If you’re looking for what to do with fallen trees and stumps on your property, chainsaw art is a great option—it helps clear space and gives way to beautiful finished products! Also, chainsaws offer more control than band saws or jigsaws can provide. If cutting patterns into wood interests you at all, consider taking up chainsaw art as a hobby. Good luck!
Choosing the Best Logs
In choosing what logs will best suit your chainsaw carving project, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is choosing a log that has not yet decomposed. This can be a problem if you want to carve outdoors (where soil exposure will promote decomposition) or if you don’t have access to a well-sealed garage or shed storage.
pay attention to whether you need something easy to cut through (like pine) or very hard (like oak). But generally, the best wood for your chainsaw carving is softwood. This is because softwood is easy to cut with a chainsaw since they have weaker kickback and they are also less prone to cracking.
Finally, try not to get hung up on size; any log more than 6 inches across should be fine. If it feels right, it probably is
Best Types of Wood for Chainsaw Carving
There are many types of wood out there but I only recommend six kinds: oak, cedar, cottonwood, red cedar, basswood, and Ponderosa.
One of our top picks for chainsaw carving, oak is a dense hardwood that helps you create detailed sculptures. Oak works well for carvings because it has a thick grain that’s also pretty dense – meaning that your carved piece will have lots of texture. You don’t want something flimsy!
The wood’s hardness makes it particularly good for adding detail to intricate designs; however, if you’re just starting we recommend choosing another type of wood. Oak is also available in large quantities, and lumber from freshly felled trees will carve better than that from older trees.
Cedar is a good choice if you prefer smooth lines and shapes to anything else. It doesn’t work as well for textures, but it does mean that even unfinished pieces will be light-colored and interesting-looking.
For ornamental cuts, cedar is a good choice as it’s softer than most other woods and easier on your chainsaw blade. It holds detail well, with its fine texture, so you can use it to carve shapes with lots of detail (like faces). The softness of cedar means that it’s often used for sculptures or furniture rather than carvings. If you decide to cut something out of cedar, be sure to soak it in water first. Otherwise, you risk checking—that is, weakening—the wood by cutting across fibers rather than along them. Just put your block of wood into a plastic tub or bucket full of water, and leave it overnight.
If you are just starting and looking for a light wood that won’t cause too much vibration, cottonwood is your best bet. It tends to be soft, so it’s also safer than other types of wood if you don’t have a lot of experience with chainsaws.
Since it doesn’t contain resins, you don’t need to worry about gumming up your saw with tree sap or pitch. It will not splinter easily unless there are knots present in the tree trunk, so take care when selecting pieces of lumber from which to carve. And while it tends to be softer than other woods, carving difficult objects into cottonwood can lead to stress fractures along the grain.
Be aware that even though woodworkers consider Cottondale soft enough for fine turnings, experienced carvers may find it difficult due to its tendency toward splitting. So stick with smaller projects before moving on to bigger ones, like picnic tables and lamp bases. You can purchase a 2-foot by 4-foot plank at most big box stores and cut away from there!
4. Red Cedar
With its clean, sweet smell and distinctive golden hues, red cedar is widely used in a variety of projects. This softwood is relatively easy to carve, doesn’t dull chainsaws quickly, and easily absorbs stains.
It’s often used in boats because it has a natural resistance to rot, making it an excellent choice for outdoor projects. Red cedar holds paint well and won’t splinter when cut or sanded. And it may be one of your best choices if you intend to use your carving as a business; some customers may be allergic to other woods, so cedar gives you lots of options. Finally, insects don’t eat cedar—which means fewer termites!
Basswood is a popular choice for beginners and seasoned carvers alike. Although it falls into the category of hardwoods, It’s easy to work with and is less likely than many other kinds of wood to crack or split while you’re working on it. It also takes paint well, allowing you to produce amazing works of art!
The only real drawback to basswood is that it can sometimes be difficult to find at your local home improvement store; instead, visit a specialty lumber supplier. They should have several varieties available in varying thicknesses, which makes shopping for basswood easier and more affordable!
This is one of my personal favorites. Because ponderosa pine is so straight and has a more open grain than most other pines, it’s perfect for carving. Plus, it’s native to North America. Because of their hardiness, trees remain standing long after harvesting. A bonus? It’s available in just about every hardware store in the country!
The type of wood you choose is always important. Pine, cedar, and redwood are good choices if you’re new to chainsaw carving because they carve easily with minimum effort. Oak, ash, maple, and birch are tougher woods that also make excellent chainsaw sculptures but require a little more patience and skill. And then there are harder-to-carve woods like mahogany, Bubinga, teak, eucalyptus, and ebony. These varieties may look hard to work with—and sometimes they are—but there’s no reason not to try them; it’s all about practice!
factors to consider when choosing wood for chainsaw art
In addition to considering whether you have experience or training, there are several other factors you may want to consider when choosing wood for chainsaw art,
1. The type of wood is one important consideration-For example, you may want softer woods such as basswood (also known as linden) that carve easily but aren’t recommended for extended carving sessions because they can chip.
2. The density of grain – the closer together the grains, generally speaking, the harder it will be to cut. It’s also worth noting that if a piece has knots, these should be taken into account when planning your design. You don’t want to create a detailed design only to realize later on that there are knots in some of your key areas!
One thing we should mention here is that certain kinds of wood shouldn’t even be used at all for chainsaw art due to their natural susceptibility to exploding or splitting apart in large chunks during cutting. These include eucalyptus trees.
3. Safety – safety should always come first when dealing with sharp tools such as a chainsaw. Your eyes should be protected from flying debris, and it’s best to keep away from pants legs, or sleeves when operating saws.
The specks of dust created by working with wood can be dangerous if not filtered properly; many professionals wear masks while working.
Putting yourself in harm’s way defeats the whole purpose of creating an artistic work out of nothing more than nature’s bounty!
4. Make sure that what you’re paying for really is a high-quality chainsaw. Many stores try to sell low-quality saws painted green to look like professional ones at highly discounted prices.
If you’re looking for a new hobby, chainsaw carving is an excellent option. It’s surprisingly accessible and incredibly rewarding. However, some woods are better suited to use with a chainsaw than others. If you want to get started with your project, be sure you’re using wood that’s easy on your chainsaw—choose softer or dried hardwoods like walnut or basswood.