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Carving wooden Sculptures with Chainsaws ~ by Angus

Carving wooden Sculptures with Chainsaws

Nigel Sardeson first realised how useful chainsaws were when he helped to clear fallen trees after the 1987 storm, but he developed an interest in carving with a chainsaw while working for the National Trust at Cliveden - there he decided to carve a few animals around the woods to surprise visitors. He now works as a forester for Lincolnshire County Council but part of his time is devoted to professional chainsaw carving.

If people want to try some chainsaw carving for themselves, Nigel emphasises that it is essential to be competent with using a chainsaw.  There are some good courses on learning how to carve, such as the ones run by Mick Burns in Lincolnshire.  Apart from noise and dust the big danger is the risk of the chainsaw kicking back.  You will need a carving bar and a small chainsaw.  Nigel's guiding principle when carving is to use as small a saw as he can for the job.  His favourite is an MS200 which is a small, light climbing saw and isn't too powerful. "With a carving bar on this chainsaw  you can cut curves and it doesn't kick back," advises Nigel.

gorilla wood sculpture at wood fairMost of Sardeson's work is done on a commission basis and he has completed work for schools and for Sustrans cycle paths.  He has carved humans, abstracts, sea lock gates and various animals.  For the gorilla, pictured here, Nigel had to submit a design in advance and, having been selected, he spent a week carving it at the Westonbirt "Festival of the Tree 2010".  It was then auctioned with much of the proceeds going to TreeAid, a charity promoting tree planting in Africa.  Says Nigel of his two-tonne gorilla, "starting with a tree trunk I have tried to give the impression of the bulk of the creature.  It will be ideal for a foyer or a zoo."    This sculpture was carved from Norway Maple and eventually sold for £1,500.  "Norway Maple is slow to cut and that stops you making too many mistakes.  The best approach" says Nigel, with tongue in cheek, "is not to make mistakes".

The Westonbirt Arboretum's Sculptree Wood Carving and charity auction is an annual event and attracts many talented chainsaw carvers from around the UK including John Wingfield, Simon Hedger (from Wales), Daniel Cordell and Tom Harvey.

Posted in: Art & Craft, Practical Guides, Woodland Activities ~ On: 7 October, 2010

6 comments so far

21 November, 2017

Sorry – Woodlands.co.uk does not run any courses.

Cheryl Saul
21 November, 2017

Can you tell me if you have any day/weekends courses for a Christmas present in chainsaw sculpting please.

morag mcglashan
23 May, 2017

I am looking for a course for my husbands 70th birthday, He has used a chain saw but only to cut logs . He has tried dry stone dyking and has since built a dyke in the garden, also tried stone carving which he enjoyed carving a thistle. He enjoys watching tree carving usually we go to the wood festival in Peebles. Can you advise if you do day or weekend courses. We live in Scotland but have a son in Yorkshire, so travelling to Yorkshire is no problem.

5 October, 2013

Do you do any chain saw wood carving day or weekend lessons please?
Thank you

Richard Campbell
25 November, 2012

That’s a very impressive and skill that must take a long time to develop and perfect. I’m an avid chainsaw user, but pretty much stick to just cutting my kiln dried logs for my woodburner. How you are able to get the cutting precision from a chainsaw to make these sculptures is simply beyond me. Excellent work and I love the Gorilla!

Bronze sculptures
12 December, 2010

You have to think about the type and skills of the sculptor you are looking for. This is dependant on what you need from such a talented person. Suppose, you desire something which is exquisitely designed in foam – in such a case, you should look for a sculptor who has experience in foam carvings and foam models. With several years of experience, such a talented artist shall know all the nuances of foam carving and will be able to deliver you foam models and designs which you are looking for. If you have found such a commission sculpture online, check out the gallery to find images of all his carvings, foam models and other works of art which shall help you to decide on the talent of the person and the type of projects in which he has been involved.

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