20 Chainsaw Carving Project Ideas for All Skill Levels

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Carving wood with a chainsaw can sound like a dangerous undertaking, but it can result in beautiful artwork. Regardless of whether or not you have experience in carving with your chainsaw, you’ll find a multitude of ideas below to get you started and inspire you to create something amazing.

The most popular canvas used in chainsaw carving is an old tree stump. They’re usually free and just sitting around, not doing much anyway. Why not carve it into a unique sculpture that becomes a conversation starter when guests come to visit?

Chainsaw Carving Projects for Beginners

These projects are ideal for those just starting on their chainsaw carving journeys and require less detail work and use smaller pieces of wood. Nonetheless, these projects are still incredibly unique and will get tons of compliments and leave your guests impressed.

1. Pumpkin

Carving a pumpkin with your chainsaw makes for a great beginner’s project. There is less detail required to still end up with a realistic-looking pumpkin. This is a great piece of decoration for the fall season and you’re sure to receive lots of compliments on your handiwork.

Pumpkin carving ideas

If you’re looking to add some intermediate touches, you can add extra detail to the project by creating a different jack-o-lantern face on your pumpkin. Whatever best suits you!

2. Mushroom

If you’re looking for another easy beginner project, you can try your hand at carving a mushroom. If it’s similar to this one, it can even double as a stool. As always, you can make the project more challenging by adding extra detail and you can also feel free to add some paint at the end to bring your work to life.

Mushroom project carving ideas
(c) laurelleaffarm.com

You can check the detailed project here: laurelleaffarm.com

If you choose to make a few carved mushrooms, they could become a statement piece for your yard. Try making them of different heights and widths to add extra dimension.

3. Skull

If you want to add a unique Halloween decoration to your yard, you can chainsaw carve a skull. You can use a relatively small chunk of wood for this project, so it’s very accessible for beginner carvers.

Skull project carving ideas

This is a very spooky project and the neighborhood kids will be talking about your handmade wooden skull for months to come! You may even receive requests to make a few more to share.

4. Tree

If you’re looking to create something simple for your yard, try your hand at carving some trees. You can create a whole group of them, a forest even! If you want to challenge yourself further with this project, you can add extra details in the leaves and branches of the trees.

Wooden tree carving ideas

Try adding some fall colors to the leaves at the end to create an autumn-themed decoration for your home.

5. Snowman

While the arms may be a bit of a challenge for beginners, this project is accessible to those just starting with chainsaw carving.

Snowman project carving ideas

You can create your snowman to look like the well-loved Olaf from Frozen or you can create one all of your own.

Adding a bit of paint to color the wood at the end covers a multitude of imperfections. The painting can even be turned into a family-friendly project to get everyone involved!

6. Chess Piece

If you’re a fan of the game of chess, then why not carve some larger-than-life pieces? The knight is a good piece to start with and will be instantly recognizable to all. If you feel like continuing onward, you can potentially create a complete set.

Wooden chess piece carving ideas

This is a great project for beginners, as there is limited work in the details and you mainly have to focus on smoothing out the final product.

7. Frog

Use your chainsaw to carve a frog sculpture to add to your garden. Even better, if you have a pond you can place the figure by the water. You can opt to add a darker stain to the wood or even a dark green color of paint.

Wooden frog carving ideas

You only need a small chunk of wood to start on this project, so you don’t have to worry about dealing with a large unruly piece of a tree, to begin with. If you want to challenge yourself further, try adding more detail to the eyes and facial area, to add a more realistic touch.

8. Heart

If you’re trying to brainstorm a special gift for Valentine’s Day, then try carving a few wooden hearts! Nothing beats the thought and effort that goes into a handmade gift. This project is on the smaller side, so you don’t need a large tree trunk to be successful on these sculptures.

Wooden heart shape carving ideas

If you work slowly and methodically, you’ll be able to form the final shape of the heart. You may find that your special someone is blown away by the time you put into their present.

Here is another example of chainsaw-carved hearts. You can spend the extra time to sand your carving down at the end to make them smooth to the touch.

9. Feather

Carving a feather is a great beginner project that also challenges you to practice some detailed cuts. Carving a single feather can force you to focus on the details around the edges of the feather, which increases your skill level.

Wooden feather carving ideas

You must be delicate when using your chainsaw and you’ll find that the results are worthwhile in the end. As shown in the video, you can carefully use a torch at the end to add some texture to the final product and give it that finishing touch.

More Chainsaw Carving Projects (Intermediate and Above)

If you’re ready to try your skills at some more detailed projects, then check these out! This is a compilation of some of the most popular carvings, such as bears and owls, and some more unique ones. You can always feel free to add your personal touches onto your carvings to make them all your own.

1. Bear

One of the most popular and widespread projects for chainsaw carvers is the bear. They are often being sold in mountain towns for tourists to purchase and take home. Chainsaw carved bears can be found sitting on porches all over the United States.

Wooden bear carving ideas

Due to this being such a popular project, you may feel inspired to add your unique touches to it. You can do this in a variety of ways, such as carving additional props into the sculpture or creating a sign to go along with it.

2. Pelican

If you live on the coast and want to pay respect to the many pelicans flying around, maybe you can try your hand at carving a friend for them! There are a variety of birds you can carve sculptures of and this one is a great one to start with.

You’ll need a medium-sized trunk of wood for this project. There is some detailed work that goes into the feathers of the pelican, so it’s best suited for intermediate-level carvers.

3. Owl

An owl is another popular chainsaw carving endeavor. The wings take a bit of detailed work but end up looking strikingly impressive. You can carve a sculpture of an owl and then let it hang out in your backyard to deter any unwanted guests from entering your yard.

Wooden owl carving ideas
(c) stihl.com

Check out the detailed project here: stihl.com

You can add some color to the owl at the end or even a stain to darken the feathers on this majestic bird. These touches will add to the realism of your creation. A stain can help to cover up any mistakes you made along the way and add further detail to the bird.

4. Lion

There is nothing more majestic than a beautiful African lion. If you’d like to try your hand at carving a sculpture in their likeness, then you can get some great tips from this tutorial. Keep in mind, this is a fairly detailed project and will take some time to complete.

Wooden lion carving ideas
(c) treecarving.co.uk

You can view the detailed project here: treecarving.co.uk

If you find your inspiration piqued by this project, try brainstorming more animals to add to the herd! You can create an entire African safari if you felt like it. Add a zebra next or an elephant! The possibilities are endless.

5. Gnome

A great chainsaw carving project for intermediate carvers is to create a gnome for your yard. Everyone is familiar with the popular garden gnome statues that seem to be ubiquitous in the gardens of grandma’s everywhere. Carving one out of wood with a chainsaw is a fun twist on this idea and makes for an interesting piece.

Wooden gnome carving ideas

This would be a great project to do with an old piece of wood to give it some new life. Soon enough, your neighbors will be asking you to make one for them. There are various personal touches you can add to these gnomes and you can paint them in an array of colors once you’re finished.

6. Chicken

A unique project would be to use your chainsaw to carve a wooden chicken. You can complete this project within a day if you set your mind to it. This is a great intermediate project, as you can practice working on the sections that require a more detailed and skilled hand.

Wooden chicken carving ideas

Sanding down the features of the chicken at the end brings the whole bird together and is a great finishing touch.

7. Eagle

There is nothing more majestic and striking than a bald eagle. If you want to show off your patriotism, carve up a bald eagle sculpture with your chainsaw. This is a beautiful show of how you handle your chainsaw to gently sculpt the feathers and extended wings.

Wooden eagle carving ideas
(c) jimmenken.com

You can check the other ideas here: jimmenken.com

You’ll require a larger piece of the trunk for this project, but the results will be stunning by the end. Adding color at the end brings out the realism of the carving and makes a striking statement.

If you want a more beginner-friendly eagle, then you can follow this tutorial.

8. Fox

This is a really neat project if you want to practice your detailed work on carving fur. You can pose your fox in a variety of ways and you can choose to make the fox more cartoonish or realistic. It’s all up to you and your tastes.

Wooden fox carving ideas
(c) toddgladfelter.com

For other other carving ideas, you can check here: toddgladfelter.com

This sneaky mammal is a great sculpture to carve with a chainsaw. You can choose to paint the coat a rich orange color to add to the overall image.

9. Dog

This is a special project if you want to pay respect to your furry animal companion. Perhaps you even have a beloved pup that passed away years ago and you want to carve a sculpture in their honor. This can quickly turn into a personal project carrying a lot of meaning.

Wooden dog carving ideas

You can begin by looking at photos of your dog to decide on a pose and then begin your carving. There are many different dog carvings to look at for inspiration that cover many different breeds and sizes of dogs.

10. Cat

Of course, if you’re more of a cat person — you can always carve a feline sculpture. Nobody wants to be left out! Depending on your skill level, you can choose to add lots of detail to the fur or keep it on the minimal side.

Wooden cat carving ideas

There is some detailed work that goes into the facial features and then you’ll want to sand down the sculpture in some areas. Before you know it, you may be getting requests from acquaintances to carve a sculpture of their furry friend as well.

11. Crocodile

If you want to create a statement piece for your yard, try carving a crocodile or an alligator. You’ll need a rather large piece of wood for this endeavor, but it’ll be a fun challenge if you can gather the correct supplies.

Wooden crocodile carving ideas

This isn’t a project that you can complete in a day. It will likely take you several weeks of work — however, the results are truly incredible.

This project is heavy on detailed carving work along the spine and the tail of the crocodile as well as the sharp teeth on the reptile. Once you’re finished, you’ll have a sculpture that your guests won’t soon forget! Bonus points if you have a grassy pool area where you can lay the carved crocodile.

Your Turn to Create!

Now that you have loads of inspiration to get you started on your next chainsaw carving project, all that’s left to do is choose the one that speaks to you. You can follow the tutorials or you can wing your project and go in another direction completely. That’s the fun in carving, you get to choose which cuts to make and what the final shape eventually becomes.

An expert at home repair, remodel, and DIY projects for nearly 40 years. His first experience came in completely restoring an antique home. Completely redone from the inside out, and restored to its original form, the home is a featured design by renowned Southern California Architect Cliff May, considered to be the father of the California Ranch Home. Now Dennis spends his time on fine woodworking projects and tool comparisons.