How to Carve a Totem Pole with Chainsaw? – 6 Steps

carve totem pole with chainsaw

Apart from being exquisite works of art, totem poles also serve as carriers of cultural legacy and oral tradition. For millennia, people’s imaginations have been captured by these enormous tree wooden sculptures, which were typically made by Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest.

Although totem poles were historically carved with hand tools, the introduction of more contemporary technologies like chainsaws has improved accessibility tree and efficiency. In this article, we’ll go over six easy stages for carving a totem pole with a chain saw, giving you the opportunity to start working on your own magnificent totem pole.

How to Carve a Totem Pole with Chain saw?

carve totem pole with chainsaw

Chainsaw totem pole carving demands deliberation, accuracy, and a profound understanding of the craft. These instructions will show you how to turn a plain log into a fascinating totem pole that captures the essence and symbolism of this age-old custom. This guide will give you the necessary information tree stump and skills to finish your totem pole, whether you are an expert chainsaw carver or a beginner curious to learn more about this distinctive art form.

So let’s enter the interesting realm of totem pole carving by grabbing a chainsaw and donning our safety gear. With these six easy steps, you’ll be well on your way to producing a masterpiece tree stump  that respects the totem poles’ incredible aesthetic value and rich cultural heritage.

Importance Of Chainsaw Carving In Creating Totem Poles

Totem pole carving has undergone a radical transformation thanks to chainsaw carving, which provides both artists and enthusiasts with a wealth of benefits and potential. While totem poles were historically carved with hand tools, the use of chainsaws has greatly improved the process’ efficiency, speed, and accuracy wolf. In order to create totem poles, chainsaw cutting is crucial for the following reasons:

Efficiency and Time-Saving

Chainsaw carving enables craftspeople to swiftly remove extra wood, making the roughing out process far quicker than with hand tools. In a fraction of the time it would take using conventional techniques, artists may shape a raw log into a wolf basic totem pole shape utilizing the speed and power of a chainsaw. Carvers may take on more projects and exercise their creativity while maintaining quality thanks to this efficiency.

Handling Big Logs

Totem poles are often carved from big logs, some of which can reach heights of several feet. These enormous chunks of wood sculpture would be difficult and time-consuming to maneuver and shape by hand. Carvers may work on big projects and build massive totem poles thanks to chainsaws’ powerful motors and long cutting bars, which make it relatively simple to handle large logs.

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Precision and Control

While chainsaws are renowned for their incredible raw power, expert carvers may also attain astounding precision and control with these tools. Chainsaw carvers are able to create exquisite features, textures, and shapes on the totem pole with expertise and experience. The finished piece of art is more overall and more aesthetically pleasing when precise cuts and modifications can be made using various chainsaw carving techniques.

Design Flexibility

Chainsaw carving opens us a vast array of options for artistic expression in totem pole design. Because of the chainsaw’s adaptability, artists can experiment with various motifs, patterns, and styles and modify them to fit their individual creative visions. Chainsaw carving enables carvers to bring their distinctive artistic interpretation to life in the totem pole, whether it is capturing the fluidity of animal forms or inserting elaborate geometric patterns.

Preservation of the Traditional Craft

Although chainsaw carving incorporates modern technology, it also aids in the preservation of the totem pole-carving heritage. Chainsaw carving draws new enthusiasts and ensures the survival of this rich cultural legacy by making the art form more practical and approachable. It enables both seasoned carvers and aspiring newcomers to learn, develop, and add to the tradition of totem pole carving.

Materials Required

Keep in mind to put safety first whenever using a chainsaw. When using and maintaining your chainsaw, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and take the required safety measures to keep both you and others around you safe. The following supplies are needed to carve a totem pole with a chainsaw:


Depending on the size of the totem pole you plan to carve, choose a chainsaw with a bar length and power that is appropriate. Find a chainsaw that meets your goals for comfort and carving by taking into account elements like engine size, weight, and mobility.

Safety Gear

Chainsaw carving should place a high focus on safety. Make sure you have the necessary safety gear:


Choose a suitable log or piece of wood to carve your totem pole from. Historically, Western Red Cedar or Yellow Cedar have been preferred due to their strength, resistance to rot, and simplicity of carving. Make sure the log is the right size to accommodate your design by taking into account the width and height of the totem pole you intend to build.

Marking Tools

To outline your design on the wood sculpture and direct your carving, use marking tools. Several helpful marking instruments are:

  • A pencil for carpenters or a marking knife
  • For larger markings, use chalk or marking spray paint.
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Instruments for carving

In addition to the chainsaw, you might need other instruments to create texture and animals fine-tune the design of your totem pole. These may consist of:

  • Angle grinder with shaping and smoothing attachments
  • Chisels and gouges for delicate work and little details
  • Rasps and files for forming  animals and sanding uneven surfaces
  • For final smoothing, sandpaper or sanding tools are used.

Sealant or Preservative for Wood

Apply a good wood preservative or sealer to the finished totem pole to protect it from deterioration and the elements. Clear sealants, wood oils, and wood preservatives intended for masks outdoor use are available options.

Materials for Finishing (Optional)

You could want to take into account using the following materials for finishing tip touches, depending on your aesthetic and design preferences:

  • For the purpose of adding color and boosting the totem pole’s aesthetic impact, use outside paint or wood stain.
  • painting or staining tools, tip such as brushes or sprayers
  • Additional ornamental embellishments like feathers, shells, or metal

Step-By-Step Guide To Carve A Totem Pole With Chainsaw

You can effectively carve a totem pole with a chainsaw by following these six steps. Throughout the carving process, keep in mind to chisel work at your own pace, take pauses as necessary, and always put safety first. Enjoy the satisfying process of building a magnificent totem pole that honors the cultural legacy of this age-old art form while showcasing your ingenuity.

Step 1: Planning and Design

Start by doing some study and choosing a totem pole design that speaks to you chisel . Think about the symbolism, cultural significance, and aesthetic components connected to various totem pole designs. Make a list of the size and type of wood your totem pole will require yard. Imagine how your design would appear on the selected log as you draft it.

Step 2: Safety Measures

Before undertaking any carving projects, put safety first. Ensure you are wearing all required safety equipment, such as steel-toed boots, protective gloves, chainsaw chaps or other leg protection, goggles or glasses, yard hearing protection, and a helmet or hard hat. Create a secure work environment with enough room for the chainsaw to go about without being obstructed.

Step 3: Creating the Design in Rough

Put on your safety gear, set up your workspace, and start sketching out fish  the totem pole design. Mark the log’s main characteristics and dimensions with marking tools. Working from top to bottom, start cutting away extra timber fish with the chainsaw. Concentrate on forming a fundamental form, making sure the totem pole stays proportionate and balanced all throughout the carving process.

Step 4: Include Details

After you’ve created the basic form, add texture and details to your totem pole using the chainsaw. Use several chainsaw carving methods to provide depth, patterns, and particular features. Make strategic cuts while working slowly and precisely to get the desired outcomes. Pay close attention to the minute details that make up the totem pole design you’ve picked.

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Step 5: Sanding and smoothing

After the chainsaw carving is finished, finish polishing the totem pole’s surface. To smooth out rough areas and perfect the details, use tools like chisels, rasps, files, and angle grinders with carving attachments. Use sandpaper of increasing grits gradually to produce a smooth finish. For the wood to be ready for painting or staining, this step is essential.

Step 6: The last touches

To prevent corrosion and degradation, seal the totem pole with an appropriate wood preservative. If you want to paint or stain your totem pole, take that into consideration. Select the right exterior paint or wood stain to improve the carving’s aesthetic appeal. Carefully and evenly spread the finish on the surface. Add any more decorations or accessories to further customize your totem pole, if desired.

Final Word

A fascinating trip that combines beauty, craftsmanship, and reverence for cultural traditions is carving a totem pole using a chainsaw. This article has covered the six easy stages to utilizing a chainsaw to make a beautiful totem pole. Each stage in the process, from design and planning to adding details, sanding, and adding finishing touches, helps turn a raw log into an extraordinary work of art. 

Prioritizing safety throughout the process requires donning the proper protective gear and working in a secure location. Chainsaw carving is quick, accurate, and adaptable, allowing artists and enthusiasts to work with big logs, accomplish fine details, and realize their artistic ambitions. The traditional craft of totem pole carving has been preserved thanks to the use of contemporary instruments like chainsaws, which have also improved accessibility and accelerated the carving process. Accept the difficulties, accept the need to learn, and, most importantly, enjoy the satisfying process of creating a totem pole. 


 Can you use a chainsaw to carve?

To make carving easier, make sure the chainsaw is sharp. It can be more dangerous and more likely to kick back if the cutting teeth are dull. You have the option of doing it yourself or having a professional sharpen the chain.

 How do you simply carve?

When carving along those grain lines, always go downward. In addition to carving perpendicular to or diagonally across the grain, you can also cut up against the grain. Even with a sharp tool, you can be carving in the wrong direction if the wood starts to tear as you do so.

 What can be carved the simplest?

Because it is affordable and pliable, basswood blanks are a perfect wood to start learning to carve on. Another white wood that is very well-liked by woodworkers is aspen. It is still pretty soft but is stronger than basswood, making it easier to carve than basswood.

 Who can use a chainsaw?

If operated by untrained individuals, chainsaws are potentially dangerous devices that can result in serious damage. Anyone utilizing a chainsaw for that type of activity should have gotten sufficient training and be proficient in doing so.

 What does cut and carve mean?

Structural modification, also referred to as “cut and carve,” is changing a building’s framework. This may be necessary to address a structural issue, repair the damage, or make room for a building change that has been planned.




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