Our step-by-step instructions explain how to carve an owl from wood using your chainsaw. Why not give it a try?
Once you have all your materials prepared and your personal protective equipment in place, you can get to work on creating an elegant owl sculpture to practice carving with your chainsaw.
The first step is to prepare the piece of wood you are using for your chainsaw carved owl. Not sure what type of wood is best for chainsaw carving? Find out more about the fundamentals of chainsaw carving.
Use your chainsaw to remove the bark and sapwood from your trunk; this ensures that your finished owl sculpture will be weather-resistant and robust, as the heartwood is the densest part of a tree.
Secure the trunk onto a sturdy subsurface using a ratchet strap, or by firmly screwing it in place. You need to be certain it will not roll away or move as you use your chainsaw to carve it.
Use a pencil or a piece of chalk to draw the rough form of an owl onto the trunk. This is when you need to decide which direction your owl will be facing. Your markings should indicate clear cutting lines to carve with the chainsaw. The lines will show which large areas can be quickly removed out first.
Now it’s time to start carving with your chainsaw. Work from top to bottom: start by carving out a head and form it into a rounded shape.
Next, carve out the body of the owl until the contours are clearly recognisable. Use light movements to guide your chainsaw along the marked lines and carve away all the corners and edges – this will give the carving a natural shape.
Always work with a sharp chainsaw chain! Not only will a dull saw chain damage the wood you are carving, but your chainsaw will also be less efficient. To make your chainsaw cut smoothly, contact your STIHL dealer to have your chain sharpened or do it yourself. There are step-by-step instructions on how to sharpen your chainsaw here!
Now it’s time to add detail to your chainsaw owl wood carving, using the chainsaw to carve wings, a face and feathers.
With a carving chainsaw you can really bring out the specific features of an owl’s face. First use chalk to draw a vertical line marking the centre of your owl’s face, and remove wood in a V shape on both sides of the line. Next, use careful movements to add contours that bring out the eyes and beak.
Here’s a tip for when you’re preparing to carve out the wings: the owl’s two wings together form a heart shape. Stand behind the owl and draw a heart onto the wood; make sure that both halves are at the same height, and draw a vertical line to split the shape in two. Now the wings are ready for carving out.
Use your chainsaw to add feathers to the owl’s wings and tail. The lower flight feathers need to be really straight and neatly overlapping. This is best achieved by starting from the middle of the heart (or back of the owl) and working outward.
Mark the owl’s talons. When owls are perching you can see two or three at the front of each foot; they have four talons in total, of which one is at the back and one can swivel from front to back. Try to carve all of them to the same depth, and keep natural proportions in mind. Leave enough wood around each talon so that afterwards you can use the tip of the chainsaw guide bar to round them off.
Work slowly and stand back to check your carving work at regular intervals – it’s easier to judge proportions from further away. Don’t cut too deep, just create small accents using the tip of your chainsaw. Less is more at this stage!
STIHL pro tip:
Stop frequently to remove the wood chips you create. This makes it easier to identify even very small errors.
The final step is carving out the finer features of your wooden owl using the chainsaw tip or a chisel. This work makes small details such as the talons and individual feathers look particularly delicate and realistic. For a smooth finish, sand down your owl when you’ve finished the carving work.
Your chainsaw owl is ready to admire! To make sure it stays looking its best, you may need to protect your carving project against fungi and rot depending on the type of wood you have used.
To keep your chainsaw art protected from the elements, we recommend the following after-treatment: