When it comes to chainsaw carving, choosing the right type of wood can make all the difference. Oak, a popular hardwood, is often considered a great option due to its strength and durability. However, oak also presents some challenges for carving, including its hardness and tendency to split and check. In this post, we’ll explore the benefits and challenges of chainsaw carving oak, as well as some tips for working with this beautiful and long-lasting wood.
Oak for chainsaw carving – carving hardwoods
Oak holds detail well.
Oak is remarkable at holding details. This is not only true of oak but most hardwoods. The grain structure for hardwoods is dense enough to support very minute contours of details.
After working on your oak carving with a chainsaw, there is still plenty of room to jump in with finer tools and lift that detail on the surface.
With good technique detailing increases the value of your sculpture remarkably. The detail shows the time commitment of the chainsaw artist. Since chainsaw carving is relatively fast, the time commitment is appreciated as added value.
Oak takes finishes well
Like the previous point, surface treatment is crucial in chainsaw carving and all woodworking.
Some woods are pretty stubborn and require special techniques or very specific finishes. With oak, it’s quite the opposite oak will take finishing well with oils making the grain look richer.
Carvings have to be given a finish since wood is an unstable material. Finishing also helps prolong the life of a carving; choosing wood that accepts finishing well as oak does make the finishing process much easier.
Watch out for splits as your oak chainsaw carving dries
As a chainsaw carver, you must accept this sooner or later. It’s not much you can do to stop most woods from splitting.
Most of the time, chainsaw carvers use logs. While this gives them a chance for mega wooden sculptures is also a disadvantage. Log carvings are more prone to splits than saw carvings from sawn timber.
Carvers using sawn timber may avoid a large sapwood percentage in their wood than carvers using logs which will obviously utilize a large share of the heartwood and a considerable amount of sapwood.
The case is the same for oak, and splits will occur, but just like we mentioned on chainsaw carving with pine, the splits can be predicted and avoided for front areas.
Oak is a tough wood to chainsaw carve
Oak is a tough wood. This means carving it even with a chainsaw is both slow and tiring. The secret to carving such hardwoods is being patient. Being in a rush to finish a carving in hardwood either ruins the wood, tools, or your mood.
You don’t want any of that, so being patient and only doing what the wood allows at the time is the right way to chainsaw carve oak.
Also, a safety tip is that hardwoods will tend to give a kickback if you force the nose of the chainsaw on the wood. If you don’t know what chainsaw kickback is and how to avoid kickbacks, do check it out; that information could save you from serious chainsaw injuries.
Sharpen your chainsaw regularly when carving oak
Sharpening skills are vital for anyone who works with cutting-edge tools. Chainsaws need sharpening, especially when working with tougher woods that often blunt the edge.
When chainsaw carving oak, once you fill, the efficiency of your saw greatly declines, which it means is time to sharpen again. Do this as often as possible, and the oak won’t be such a tough opponent for your saw.
Chainsaw carving oak green
Carving hardwoods when green is an ingenious way of overcoming the toughness of the wood when it dries. Whittlers use this technique to whittle pieces in hardwood.
Oak can be chainsaw carved green, and the process becomes much lighter and faster. However, big splits are likely to form on such a wood.
To mitigate the splits and checks problem, roughing out (blocking) can be done while the oak is green, then let dry as is, then details worked on later.
But today, chainsaw carvers don’t worry much about splits and even tell their customers that it will happen 90% of the time. But splits add character to a carving, so no worries there.
Is oak good for chainsaw carving- A summary
Oak is definitely slower to work with. It checks and cracks a bunch. Rougher on your equipment, but not too bad. It’s really nice grain, but it usually gets those big cracks that are iconic to oak timber frames.
In conclusion, is oak good for chainsaw carving? Yes! The best wood for carving is the wood you have! If you have oak, then it’s good enough for carving.
Check Best Chainsaw for oak trees
Happy chainsaw carving!