Carving a Step From an Old Fallen Tree

Photo by A.J. Kilpatrick

The finished product: a step carved from an old windblown log that was well on its way to fulfilling its role in the circle of life.

Since we were giving the front entrance a bit of a refurb- new door and window, clapboard siding, lights, and GFI outlet, we decided to try to reclaim an old ceder log that had blown down 6 years ago.  Seeing the large Eastern White Ceder (large being a relative term as Eastern ceder is quite puny by Western standards) just lying on the ground waiting to complete the circle of life had long seemed wasteful.  First up was a little milling with a Granberg chainsaw mill to give us a flat top.  Because our Echo CS 590 Timber Wolf is only equipped with a 20 ” bar, we had to drop the front stabilizing arm off the mill to maximize the width of cut.  The old ceder was easy cutting, but the Echo sounded a little lean in the cut and had to be adjusted.

Granberg Chainsaw Mill and Echo CS 590 Timber Wolf working on a reclaimed ceder log. Photo by A.J. Kilpatrick

Using the Granberg Chainsaw Mill to mill our reclaimed ceder log into a step.

After milling the top and bottom of the log, we discovered that the first inch and a half of the log’s circumference had significant rot damage, so we had to carve/remove it with our trusty Stihl MS 193 C chainsaw.  After carving off the rotten shell, we began carving the bark texture back into the log.  Carving the bark texture was easily accomplished with Stihl’s 1/4″ PM3 chain and .043 gauge bar– this bar and chain combo is not stock on the Stihl MS 193 C, but it is well worth the conversion.  The PM3 bar and chain is great for carving and gives a noticible power boost to this small saw.

Photo by A.J. Kilpatrick

The Echo CS 590 Timber Wolf resting with its partner in crime: the Granberg Alaskan Chainsaw Mill.

After milling and carving the log, it was time for sanding, staining, and applying some spar urethane.  When it comes to sanding: it seems that you are never finished.  I always seem to give up on the process before I am quite where I would like to be.  Sanding, it seems, is truly a test of your resolve, discipline, and patience.  For this project, I decided to try Helmsman Spar Urethane.  It applies easily, and is quite user friendly.  Whether it is tough enough for the application will only be revealed in the fullness of time.

photo by A.J. Kilpatrick for the best chainsaw blog

Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane applies easily and has a great finish.

First Foray Into Carving: A Lot Like Crack


After finally getting around to putting a dedicated carving bar onto a Stihl MS 193 C, it was time to try a little chainsaw carving.  Since the Christmas season was fast approaching, I decided to try my hand at carving some small trees.  Trees seem to be pretty simple to carve and would be a good starting point for a beginning carver, and, with the silly season almost upon us, a carved tree would add to the festive decor (and maybe make a gift idea or two).

A festive center-piece brought to you by the world<s greatest and best chainsaw blog.

Small carving serving as a centerpiece.

The first challenge for carving was securing the wood to keep it safely immobile during carving.  A few screws into an old wooden sawhorse did the trick, and it was off to the races.  Using a 50 cc Stihl MS 271 to block in the rough shape, it wasn’t long before I was putting the new carving bar through its paces.  The new carving set up worked quite well.

Photo by A.J. Kilpatrick for the greatest chainsaw blog.

Basic shape carved and ready for some detailing.

The Stihl MS 193 c is doing some great work.

Work is progressing. The “scalloped” technique is more time consuming.

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Stihl MS 193 C Carving Conversion

Stihl MS 193 C Carving Conversion


A.J. Kilpatrick


After a busy summer season of home renovation projects, the beck and call of my chainsaw obsession led me down the road into the savage art form that is chainsaw carving.  As the leaves turned and fell, I finally took the plunge and ordered the parts to convert my Stihl MS 193-C into a dedicated detail carver.  The MS 193 is probably the most popular saw for detail carving in the Stihl line-up as it is a light-weight and nimble 30 CC saw that is more robust than its more consumer targeted cousin the MS 170, but less pricey than its professional cousin the MS 201 or MS 150. It’s lower torque and power also makes it more dime-bar friendly than the MS 200.

The Best chainsaw blog reviews the MS 193-C carver.

The MS 193-C converted to a dedicated detail carver and looking pretty with a 12″ .043″ gauge carving bar.

In order to convert the MS 193-C into a dedicated detail carver, I decided to mount a specialized Stihl carving bar known as a dime-tip to the saw.  Mounting a bar with such a small tip radius involves more than just changing the bar.  In order to make the most out of this specialized bar, you also need to change the drive sprocket from the stock 3/8″ pitch to a 1/4″ spur drive sprocket.  On this model, that also involves changing the worm gear for the oiler (which greatly increases the oil output- a necessity for such a narrow tipped bar).  Stihl offers a specialized carving chain for use on their .050 gauge bars, but I opted for the newer .043 gauge carving bar which gives the finest cuts, but uses the 1/4″ chain usually used on power pruning bars.  There was a two week wait on the newer narrow gauge bar, and I paid the extra thirty dollars to have the tech do the swapping of parts in order to save me some stress (plus, I was unaware that the new clutch assembly comes with the specialized tool to lock the piston-apparently the pistons in these newer small saws are delicate and do not appreciate the standard rope/dower in the piston chamber trick.)  The grand total for the conversion in my area was around $220.00.  Don’t forget to get a small 1/8″ round file for sharpening the new 1/4″ chain.

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