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Chainsaw Rendezvous 2011 Report

Post in 'The Gear' started by Battenkiller, Feb 27, 2011.

  1. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    Well, we finally made it down to Ridgway, PA on Tuesday. What a time we both had! :)

    We arrived too late to bother setting up our gear, so we just walked around and looked at the work on display. There was a very high skill level all around us, and it was intimidating to take part as a beginner. My plan was to walk around and ask a lot of questions, then go to our site to try out the techniques. We found out that that was not what was expected of us. Every carver (some 200 or so) was to be given a log and was expected to produce one decent piece to be auctioned off on Saturday. The proceeds (after expenses for the event were paid) were to be donated to the Make A Wish Foundation. We had until 5 PM on Friday to finish our pieces, and I was already three days behind everybody.

    It wasn't until Wednesday morning that I got saws set up, got my log, and began blocking out the piece. I started out without a clue what to make, but the experienced carvers all told me the same thing - start cutting and the wood would tell you what was in there. I really wanted a pelican sitting on a piling to be in there, but what I found was a Daddy penguin sitting on an iceberg, looking down at and protecting his baby from the cold.

    I quickly found out that this was not as easy as I had surmised. My first blocking cuts didn't leave enough height for the beak, so I had to put the face on the other side of the log. This left the sculpture 6" shorter than I wanted it to be. Other carvers assured me that "there's always a small bear inside somewhere", so I found a smaller penguin. I wanted to make the big cuts with my 357XP, do all the main carving with my Dolmar 420 and "quarter-tip" (tip radius about the size of a quarter) guide bar, then switch to my little Echo 306 with a 10" dime-tip bar for all the detail work. In the end, I found I caused much less damage by sticking to the small saw unless I really needed to hog out more wood. With the bigger saws, it's really easy to mess up a surface that you spent several minutes "raking" smooth... causing you to find an even smaller penguin.

    A local Dolmar sponsored carver was there, and he set my Dolmar electric up with a 9-pin race rim, a modified Cannon quarter-tip bar and modified chain. The back corners of the cutter plates need to be ground off or they will not cut as they go around the narrow tip radius. After finding out how much smoother and faster the saw cut with a modified chain, I went back and ground the other chains as well. The hip setup is to mod your rakers as well, grinding them to a sharp edge and leaving them high. This way, they split the chip as it is being formed rather than acting a a proper depth gauge. The result is an extremely aggressive and rapid cutting action with very little chain-induced chatter, at least in frozen pine. This allows you to just barely touch the wood and get very precise detail cuts. In spite of this aggressive grind, I found the saw felt very safe and had no tendency to kick back or jump in the cut. This is a sharpening method that supposedly came out of the competition logger games and was brought into the carving world by Dave Tremko, an Alaskan lumberjack-turned-carver. Dave makes waste of a lot of frozen pine when he carves his 5 minute bears with a Stihl MS 200 and a custom-made 12" dime-tip bar using this grind on 1/4" pitch chain. I tried his saw and bar and it was a real eye-opener. Saving up $600 for the saw and $150 for the special alloy "Sioux" bar starting tomorrow.

    Weather was beautiful for Wednesday and Thursday, highs in the low 30s, sunny and almost no wind. We were all working in long-sleeve shirts (except for Dave, who was showing off his native Aleut blood by carving in a tie-dye tee-shirt the whole time) until Friday afternoon when the temps dropped to the lower 20s and the wind began to roar. Lady BK had to help with the painting, and in the end, she actually lost control of her hands and couldn't hold the brushes (which were frozen anyway), but she's a real trooper and pushed on with the detail while I tried to get frozen paint to come out of a spray can. We just finished up in time for the truck to load our piece and take it off to the auction barn... wet paint and all.

    The next day we went back to pack up the rest of our gear and joined about 1000 people from around the region for the sale. The auctioneer actually tried to start my piece at $200 (higher than many others), but in the end, my penguin only reached a whopping $70. They needed to get at least a $200 average from all the carvers, so I guess I got a little help from guys like the fine art sculptor who created an 8' tall statue of the Warrior Queen of Narnia (that went for $1285) in wood instead of his usual marble.

    It was the best time we've had together in years, in spite of the cold, the mud, and all the hard work. We will definitely be back next year. We are hooked. :cheese:

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  2. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    Sounds like a great, fun "get together"
    on a nice sunny day ;)
  3. gandrimp

    gandrimp Member

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    Looks pretty good.

    It it were me I would have made a wooden door with a key hole in it. :)
  4. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Very cool . . . and neat hobby . . . any pics of the other sculptures . . . I think the best I could do would be a piece I would title "Scarred piece of firewood." :) ;)
  5. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Fantastic BK - I personally have the artistic where-with-all to totally screw up a stick man. I envy people with this type of skill set.
  6. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    One of about 20 favs from the show.

    [​IMG]
  7. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    WOW, Thats Awesome!
  8. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    Detail on this was incredible. Pictures do most of these carvings no justice. You can see alot more detail in person.
    [​IMG]
  9. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    Pic's are awesome! WOW! Would have love to been there........
  10. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Great pics SJ . . . while the photos may not do the sculptures justice I have to say I am still quite impressed.
  11. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    Snapped this pic for ISeeDeadBTUs

    [​IMG]
  12. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    Guy that carved this has a shop about 12 miles down the road.

    [​IMG]
  13. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Could explain the very large grin on one sculpture and the shocked look on the other sculpture . . . what did BK say . . . the wood reveals what is inside? ;)
  14. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    Ol' one eye.

    [​IMG]
  15. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    Laughed out load when I saw this running bear.

    [​IMG]
  16. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    I didn't know that ISD-BTU's liked trout.
  17. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    Nutcrackers mouth actually opened.

    [​IMG]
  18. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    [​IMG]
  19. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    Awesome show!
  20. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Looks like he has to go really, really badly.
  21. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for posting those pics, Lee. Too bad we missed each other there.

    Yeah, that piece with the bear under the table is pretty impressive when you realize that, except for the plywood surface, it was carved from a solid piece of wood. Mike Page (the guy who carved it) is the Dolmar-sponsored carver from Carlisle, NY I mentioned earlier. He was like you, born with a chainsaw in his hands. He had a firewood business from the time he was 16 years old until about five years ago when he threw his hat into the carving ring and never looked back.

    Helps to really be familiar with the tools. He does most of his carving with a carving bar and 3/8" low-pro chain on a ported and polished 80 cc Dolmar PS-7900 with a full-wrap front handle. Because of the high horsepower coupled with the weaker chain, he ends up trashing the drive links on his chains before he ever comes close to using them up from sharpening, but he feels the time saved makes the extra chain consumed very cost effective in his business. Most guys couldn't handle a saw that heavy in all of the overhead carving positions he needs to use for his large pieces, but once you build up to it I'm sure it's a big time saver.

    One of the nice things about being at the show for several days was watching the progress of several pieces as they developed. Next year, try to get there toward the end of the event. All of the best work is completed by then.

    I'll try to get some more pics up over the next couple days. I'm just so far behind around here after taking a week off that I barely had a chance to even look at the forum until this evening.
  22. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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