Chainsaw Carving Check List

Everything You Need

To Become A Chainsaw Carver


Where to Start

Education - Introduction to Chainsaw Safety


Please do not start chainsaw carving until you have operational knowledge, safety training, and basic wood-cutting experience. Artist Jess Alice is not liable or responsible for any injury. Check with your local area for chainsaw safety classes, find professional assistance, and get supervised experience under your belt, before you begin making art with chainsaws. Chainsaws are dangerous and can cause serious bodily injury, and even death. Thank you.

Educational Resource:
Chainsaw Safety Dvd. learn to properly handle a chainsaw, learn safety before you learn chainsaw carving.

Wood Relationships

Artist and Chainsaw Carver Jess Alice in action, shopping list of all the essential materials and tools needed to start chainsaw carving

Get to know your wood

Spend time around different varieties of wood and pay attention to its effect on you. Some people have an allergic reaction to certain trees. I personally don't handle Fur well; I know another carver allergic to Oak. Cedar and Redwood are also known to cause rashes, and respiratory issues. Hard woods are harder to carve than soft woods, learning the difference will also determine the tools you use and how many chains to have on hand. When starting, keep a journal and document your experience experimenting, record and fine tune your preferences and craft.

 tChainsaw Carving Stand-alone trees sculpture out of California cedar.

 Safety Gear

Face Shield and Respirator

You'll want to cover your eyes, nose, mouth, ears, protect your lungs, hands and body in general.  Keeping sawdust and particles out of your body is key. Buildup will cause nasial issues, dry eyes, skin irritation and upper-respiratory congestion. All in one face shield/ respirators are an easy solution.

 respirator to protect your face while chainsaw carving

Ear Protection

Yes, I have had a piece of wood fly into my ear when I thought I was safe. Also, doubles as a great way to listen to your favorite music, podcast or audiobook while you carve. 
Key Features: Wi-Fi Bluetooth | Cordless | Noise canceling.
 skull candy headphones for ear protection and listening to music while you work


Proper clothing will ensure your body is protection against minor accidents and changing environmental conditions.

chainsaw gloves to protect your hands while using a saw. Chainsaw carving, wood working, hand protection

 Arm Protection Sleeves 

One of the many choices to protect your arms. This cuts down on arm irritation from wood fibers as well.

Arm guards, arm roll up sleeves that help protect against injury. chainsaw carving arm protection

Technical Apron Chaps

Prevents and reduces potential injury to your legs and thighs. These chaps can save your life while using your chainsaw, and grinder. 

Husqvarna 587160705 Tech Technical Apron Chap, 40 to 42-Inch, Orange

Work Boots

Your feet are the foundation of your body, it's important to protect them and make sure you're comfortable all day long. Slip-resistant work boots that provide good support and can adjust to your work demands is an important investment.


Work boots

Chain Saw Pro Vest 

Chainsaw-stopping fabric in the chest area. The back is mesh for ventilation and the entire thing is hi-vis fabric. A great option for safety gear while operating your chainsaw. It is designed for gas-powered saws ONLY.
 Protective chest chainsaw carving vest

Long-Sleeve Cut Resistance Shirt

Outfit option to keep you safe while chainsaw carving. This long-sleeve cut resistance shirt will give you a sense of added protection and reassurance that you are taking the necessary precautions to adhere to safety practices.

Protective long sleeve shirt puncture resistance for chainsaw carving and working with tools

Cut Resistant Suspender Pants

One of my favorite pieces to add to your work closet, are these suspender pants that provide a great deal of protection when using a gas chainsaw. Great for cooler and wet weather, these pants are a dependable tool to your work and safety.
chainsaw carving pants

Element Resistant Outdoor Work Jacket

For wet weather, cool temperatures, or emergency conditions. Having a jacket to protect you against the elements is crucial to your survival and success. Invest in a quality jacket that is aimed to keep you safe, dry, and comfortable.
Viking Professional Journeyman 300D Rip-Stop Fire Retardant Reflective Jacket - Fire Resistant Hi Vis Jackets for Men

Insulated Overalls

Working in cold weather in harsh conditions requires added layers. Insulated overalls are a must-have to keep you warm while you work.
Insulated overalls to keep you warm while you chainsaw carve

Stihl Safety Kit

I use Stihl products primarily in my business. They provide high quality and dependable tools that give me confidence I can get the job done. This Stihl safety kit is a good starter bundle for someone who doesn't want to hassle choosing individual pieces. 

Stihl Chainsaw Safety Bundle.

Equipment & Tools


12" Echo Carving Chainsaw. Small

A compact, lightweight starter saw with a 12" carving bar will let you carve to your heart's content. This versatile saw might not take down big trees or handle your big block cuts, but it will be the mid-to-finish size chainsaw that you'll rely on most.

echo 12" chainsaw carving starter chainsaw

12" Chain for Echo Chainsaw   

  Chains are not made equal. Quality is key for performance and outcome. Choose a chain that's compatible with your equipment and always order more than one.
 bar chains for echo 12" chainsaw

Sharpening Kit

Always have enough sharpening kits around, one of the important details to your chainsaw carving creating. Keeping your chains sharp will ensure you're making safe and accurate cuts.

chainsaw carving chain sharpening kit

Husqvarna 24" Chainsaw

Standard-size saws can be used for blocking mid-size logs and beginning cuts.
Chainsaw for Chainsaw Carving, Slab, Cutting larger pieces. Blocking for carving

24" Husqvarna Chainsaw Chains

I recommend always having a few extra chains for your bars laying around, keeping an inventory sheet to stay on top of your resources.
24" chainsaw bar chains for chainsaw carving

Bar and Chain Oil

Making sure you have all your supplies in stock will assist in efficiency and building a successful business. When you can, order materials in bulk, organize your supply inventory, and have a system in place to account for low stock, reordering, and managing the details to secure the long-term outcome.
Bar and chain oil for chainsaw. Must have chainsaw carving materials

Husqvarna XP+ 2 Stroke Oil

Find creative sources for your materials and cut costs where you can. I remember one weekend, I stopped at a yard sale, and they were selling an entire case of 2-stroke oil for cheap. I stocked up at a huge discount.

oil for chainsaw carving

Gas Can

Goes hand in hand with your gas-powered chainsaw. Make sure you have the correct ratio mix for optimate performance and longevity.

5 gal gas can for chainsaw carving, extra car gas, gas for tools, machines and emergencies

Log Peavey

A log peavey is an essential tool to roll, lift, move, and pivot logs around the yard and shop. 
Wood Peavy. wood moving helper. how to move large logs around, chainsaw carving wood collection tool to help move wood rounds

Chainsaw Mill

Get clean, straight slabs with a Chainsaw Mill attachment. This accessory turns your chainsaw into a small portable sawmill.

chainsaw mill to slab trees

Jaw Horse

Love my Jaw Horse! Great piece of equipment that secures your wood in place for you to carve and create. A sturdy, reliable, and compact floor vice, this is a must-have tool for your shop, and traveling chainsaw carving needs.
Jawhorse. Helps hold logs in place to carve. chainsaw carving must have


For cleaning up rough edges, this grinder helps shape and smooth chainsaw carvings to achieve a more finished look.

grinder to smooth out chainsaw carvings

Grinder Sanding Disks

4 1/2" Grinder sanding disks are another item I recommend buying in bulk. Good to keep a healthy supply of them in the shop.
grinder 4 1/2 grinder disk wheels

Corded Power Drill

In the industry of chainsaw carving, power drills are used for a variety of reasons like drilling out the eye holes to put the black marbles in, and prepping swing bears, and wall signs.


Drill for eyes of chainsaw carvings

Drill Bits

Makita Drill Accessory drill bit set

Paddle Bits for eyeballs

paddle bit for drill to make eyeballs to chainsaw carving creatures. chainsaw carved bear eyeball drill bit


One way to give the effect of eyes in your chainsaw carvings is by drilling out the holes and putting in black marbles. It instantly gives character and soul to the piece and brings them alive.

Black Marbles for eyeballs in chainsaw carved creatures

Marbles As Eyes

Chainsaw Carved Bear by Artist Jess Alice. Chainsaw Bear sculpture out of California Cedar

Propane Torch

For added detail, depth and color, before sealing a piece, burn it with a torch and darken all the creases to give a cool shadowing affect on your carvings

torch for darkening and making details on wood chainsaw carvings


Between sanding your carving and burring with a torch for color. You need to blow off any sawdust particles because they are flammable. It's important you clean your workspace, your carving and yourself before using any open flame.

Makita air compressor

Air Nozzle for Compressor

Air nozzle for air compressor. must have equipment for chainsaw carving

Air Hose for Air Compressor

air compressor hose for chainsaw carving tools

Back up Battery Power

Jackery backup battery power station has been one of my most used purchases for life and business. It's worth the investment to have in the house in case the power goes out, for camping trips, and for long car rides. Perfect for keeping your phone, tablet, and laptop charged while out on a job site, working a pop-up shop, or enjoying a day in the mountains, or on the beach.

battery backup power source

Gas Power Generator

Power on the go, or on the job site, never worries about running out of electricity with a gas-powered generator that's strong enough to power your business needs. When traveling for Pop-Up-Shops, a generator is extremely useful for finishing work, and making sure our electronics and business devices have an additional backup source, so they are always transaction ready.

4500 watt gas powered generator on the job power station for tools. chainsaw carving must have out in the forest power source

Extension Cord

Attach to your generator to have around the house for projects and emergencies. Heavy-duty extension cords are always good to have for business and life. Being able to have the air compressor, grinder, and drill hooked up and ready to go at all times, leads to more efficient work output.

25ft extension cord for generator. on site heavy duty electrical cord

Chainsaw Carving Exterior Sealer

This high gloss spar varnish is a great sealer for exterior chainsaw carvings. Like a deck and boat, it's always good to apply additional coats as needed seasonally. The more coats applied in the shorter time frame, the wetter the carving will look. Fading will occur over time depending on the exposure to the sun and harsh elements. This Varnish should be applied in a well-ventilated workspace, please follow proper application instructions, and wear appropriate safety gear.

Man o War spar Varnish Gloss Coating for exterior wood chainsaw carvings

Paint Brushes for Sealer

Inexpensive and disposable paint brushes are the way to go when applying your sealer. They are going to get so sticky, it's not worth your time or effort to try and reuse them. I batch my sealing days and prep my area to optimize productivity with the least amount of waste.
paint brushes for varnishing chainsaw wood sculptures

Now What?

Now that you've learned how to operate a chainsaw safely, you've gathered the safety gear and tools. It's time to make sure you have the wood to carve. I was taught in California Cedar and Redwood. Check your local area to learn the types of trees you have access to. Run local ads for anyone cutting trees down in their yard, sometimes I find people giving away rounds. You can even speak with your local forestry department and inquire about any permits or ways you can help clean up the forest, or access free timber.
Different tree species will cut and finish differently, take time to research the wood before you work with it.
Chainsaw carved mushroom on base

Ready to Carve

When you begin chainsaw carving, don't rush the process, it's crucial you are mentally and physically focused and alert. Starting with basic shapes, I began with making mushrooms on bases. As shown in the photo above, having the base allowed me to carve with the log secured in a Jaw horse. I practiced cutting until I felt it resembled a mushroom. There was no pattern or direction, just my imagination, a few reference photos, and the patience to see it through. I then carved lots of mushrooms, until I felt comfortable and started getting more creative
Chainsaw Carved California Cedar Wall Mount Evergreen Forest Tree
How you secure your material will depend on the size and sculpture. For my 5ft Trees, I can carve them standing in place. For my wall trees, and anything on a base, I'll utilize my Jaw horse. When carving Garden Gnomes, I prefer to slam them down on a spike attached to a heavy stump, which allows the flexibility to carve 360, and past the bottom of the stump. When starting out, I think utilizing a Jaw horse is a safe and wise choice.
Chainsaw Carved wall Mounted Steelhead Fish in Frame

Being a Carver

Most importantly, the thing you need above all else to become a chainsaw carver is the desire to carve and create. Like anything else, there is a learning curve, but if you stick with it, watch videos, and attend some classes or competitions, you'll learn through trial and error as we all do. With each failure and success, you will not only grow as an artist but into a wiser version of yourself.
Happy Carving!

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Artist Jess Alice black and white portrait photo. Woman with hard hair, light eyes, tattoos. Neutral facial tone, get to know more about the artist, and access social media links to facebook, instagram, tiktok, pinterest youtube
Author, Artist, Chainsaw Carver, Entrepreneur, and Mountain Mama with 20+ years of experience, Jess Alice's life mission is making the world a better place one creation, and connection at a time. 
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