Chainsaw carving combines traditional woodcarving with the powerful chainsaw. The end result? Truly stunning wooden sculptures.
Unlike whittling, which generally relies on hand tools, chainsaw carving takes advantage of the power and speed of a chainsaw to shape large chunks of timber.
This can be challenging, physically demanding, and even fairly dangerous, as it requires precision and control. That’s why the wood you carve also needs to be tough enough to hold up under the pressure of that power tool.
So, in this post, you’ll learn why chainsaw-carved lumber not only needs to be tough…it also needs to be warp-resistant. You’ll also learn whether Maple wood fits the bill as an ideal timber for this electrically-charged woodcarving discipline.
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What Is The Best Wood To Carve?
This mostly depends upon your carving technique.
For example, when it comes to whittling, you need to use a low-density timber. These lower-density wood types can easily take on delicate nicks and cuts, without you having to apply much force.
So, Basswood is the best option for that particular carving discipline. It’s lightweight, easily malleable, and is one of the softest lumbers you can get your hands on.
However woodcarving styles that require more pressure to sculpt, (such as Relief Carving), need a dense lumber. So, for this particular discipline, European Oak wood is your best option.
And What Is The Best Wood For Chainsaw Carving?
Well, that powered chainsaw is going to apply a fair amount of pressure onto wood. So it too, just like Relief Carving, needs a sturdy stable wood to work on.
That is why European Oak, (also known as White Oak), is also ideal for chainsaw carving.
What About Maple? Is Maple Wood A Strong Enough Wood For Chainsaw Carving?
Maple wood is strong, and is a fine hardwood for interior wood pieces. And in terms of density alone, Maple can certainly handle being shaped using a chainsaw. That’s because Maple is a little bit denser and harder than White Oak (when we compare their Janka ratings).
What Is A Janka Rating? The Janka rating measures the compressional strength of any given wood species. The higher it’s Janka rating, (measured in lbf ‘pounds of force’), the stronger and denser the wood.
However, there is one major disadvantage to using Maple wood, (over White Oak), when it comes to Chainsaw carving. And that disadvantage is the fact that natural Maple wood is not a stable wood.
And What Do You Mean By Stable Wood?
Generally, if moisture or water gets into wood, that timber can warp and twist. This is because wood is a super absorbent material, and it will soak up water, moisture, and even vapor, like a sponge.
As wood then dries out, it shrinks and sometimes even cracks. This is called warping.
However, there are some certain types of wood that, after they’ve been seasoned, are fairly warp-resistant. And this, in turn, makes them a ‘stable’ wood.
White Oak is one such warp-resistant stable wood. Due to White Oaks unique growths (called Tyloses), this lumber doesn’t absorb very much moisture into its wood pores. As a result, White Oak won’t shift around with changes in humidity.
We dive into more about White Oaks natural moisture-resistance in our post here: Can You Really Use Untreated Oak For Raised Beds?
But Why Does Using Stable Wood Matter For Chainsaw Carving?
Using stable wood matters because chainsaw carved sculptures are essentially an outdoor project. As you work on and shape lumber — often taking days or weeks at a time — that sculpture will be sat in your backyard.
Now, Maple is not a suitable lumber for the great outdoors. It’s not rot-resistant, and it will warp if it gets rained on. And once it’s damp, insects and bugs will have a feast eating their way through this timber.
So if you use Maple wood, it will twist out of shape — throwing off the dimensions of your artwork. And that will mean that all of your hard work will get wasted.
To Sum Up, Here Are The 3 Key Takeaways From This Post…
- 1). The best type of wood for chainsaw carving is tough, durable, and stable.
- 2). Maple wood is tough, but it is not a stable wood. It will all too easily warp and crack if left outside.
- 3). A better option for chainsaw carving would be to use European Oak (aka White Oak). It is naturally warp-resistant, hard, and holds intricate design well.