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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Picnic Table, Take 1

One Log, One Picnic Table

Recently, I decided to try another experiment to see if I could transform one log into a picnic table. Using a chainsaw and a Granberg Mill, I set about turning an old spruce log into a new picnic table. I was aware that the end product might not be the most beautiful piece of outdoor furniture in the world, but it had to turn out prettier than the poplar bench experiment.

A log awaiting its destiny. Even as a seedling, this Spruce always felt like a picnic table trapped inside a barky shell.

A log awaiting its destiny. Even as a seedling, this Spruce always felt like a picnic table trapped inside a barky shell.

First up was the milling process. I am still working out the kinks to the Alaskan mill thing, and considering the type of logs I have lying around, I am not sure if it will be worth the time and effort. I just can’t bear to see the logs chunked up to rot when, with a bit of effort, they might be turned into something useful. These trees should not have died in vain. Plus it gives me something to write about. It also gives me a reason to fire up a chainsaw- which I find to be strangely therapeutic. It’s a zen thing.

It turns out that this log was just a bit too large for the 20” bar to rip through as you lose almost six inches of cutting length once the saw is lashed into the mill. It is a bit frustrating when, halfway through ripping a log, you find that the log’s knots, and a slight twist, halt the passage of the mill. In this case, I could take the saw out of the mill, trim the log, and then reattach the saw to the mill- a simple task, but it takes time and is annoying. Alternatively, I could use the smaller 50cc Stihl MS 271 to give the log a shave and a haircut. And hey, that means I get to use another of my babies.

Awaiting the Echo CS 590

After a shave and a haircut, this log awaits the surgeon’s touch to release it from its shell.

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