Carving with a chainsaw is vastly different than carving with hand tools, minimum configurations are needed to ensure that the tool is compatible with the work that is required, and be capable of finishing a workpiece completely. From a minimalist setup, to the full package, the best chainsaw for wood carving is going to be right for any project you want to complete.
ECHO 30.5CC, 14-inch chainsaw that has an optimal size and performance for general carving projects of all sizes. Has a gas powered motor to handle doing the bulk of the work, or making minor details.
Best Chainsaw For Wood Carving
I’ve been quite fortunate enough to have had time using each of these tools, and none of these companies sponsor these reviews. These are my honest critiques and opinions of them. Each one has unique features that make promote their strengths making them perfect for any given job. I will review each and talk about what the best option is for you.
A battery powered precision chainsaw for detailing work. It pairs perfectly with small to medium sized workpieces and accurate cuts.
BLACK+DECKER’S 10-inch 20V battery powered chainsaw is a staple tool for all detailing jobs or small-medium sized workpieces. As far as battery powered options go, this is a great representation of what they have to offer. I would recommend getting the kit with an extra battery (2.0 Ah or 3.0 Ah). Having the battery die during is frustrating enough, but waiting for it to charge doesn’t make it much better. It makes more sense to charge one while the other is in use.
What makes this particular tool great for detail work, aside from the chain length being 10 inches, is that it weighs less than 8 pounds. A lightweight alternative is much better suited for situations that involve meticulous cutting. For even more accurate cutting, I suggest switching out the stock bar with one that has a smaller nose radius.
A couple features that make this tool fun to use, and set the bar for quality chainsaws for wood carving, are the lubrication oiling system, chain tension, and the fact that it is cordless. As long as you have a charged battery available, this tool is ready to rock. If you’re wanting the longest runtime with a single battery, the 3.0 Ah extra battery option will give you what you need.
Lightweight tool for cutting complex designs, Worx offers a superior battery powered alternative. I suggest getting an extra 4.0 Ah battery with it to charge one while you work with the other.
An alternative 10-inch chainsaw, that’s perhaps better than the previous, is the WORX 20V with auto-tension. Although it only weighs 6.2 pounds, it has contains the same amount of power as the BLACK+DECKER, and even offers extra battery options up to 4.0 Ah. It comes with a 2.0 Ah battery, and a power indicator to alert the operator how much run time is left.
The auto-tension feature has a 3.0oz tank capacity and allows an optimal amount of tension, and helps maintain focus of the work at hand. Its lubrication system is automatic as well, which make cuts noticeably smoother, and extends its shelf life.
The chain speed for this tool is 12.5 feet per second, and, combined with all the other features, make using the detailing chainsaw an experience to say the least. Additional contributing factors to its great detailing abilities are the fact that its chain pitch is 3/8″ and a has .05″ chain gauge. That combination makes it compatible with creating complex designs.
Gas powered chainsaw that works well with detailing and general cutting techniques. Almost a jack of all trades, but avoid using it for bulk material removal on large projects.
ECHO, a well known brand some of the best chainsaw for wood carving, has the CS-271T general cutting tool that pair wonderfully with most common carving techniques. Its bar is slightly longer than the previous recommendations, at 12 inches it walks that fine line of compatibility between detail and general cuts.
While perhaps not so eco-friendly, it is a gas powered tool with a tank capacity of 8.1 oz., which is unparalleled in terms of power alternatives. A clutch-driven oiler handles the reduction of the amount of energy used. With that amount of power comes a lot of vibration, usually. The CS-271T has an anti vibration handle that is perfectly capable of handling the 26.9 cc professional grade, 2-stroke engine quite well. For safety measures, of course, a throttle lock sits on the handle for emergencies.
For practicality purposes, a side-access chain tensioner is located on the side of the tool to make slight adjustments. As long as the chain remains sharp, this chainsaw can handle wood up to 15″ in diameter. A larger tool might be better suited for bulk cuts, but if your setup is minimal, and you want a starter option for small-medium sized workpieces, the CS-271T will work perfectly.
Optimal size and performance for general carving projects of all sizes. Has a gas powered motor to handle doing the bulk of the work, or making minor details.
The slightly heavier, more powerful, and longer option, also from ECHO, is the 30.5 cc, 14-inch chainsaw. Depending on the size of your workpiece, and how you prioritize the tool’s specialties, this could be the best chainsaw for wood carving. I noticed that it is a better match for medium-large projects. That does put it at a disadvantage for precise cuts, but removes the majority material for other tools to work their magic.
A larger tool means larger tech, but not by much. It has an 8.5 oz. tank capacity, which is plenty in my opinion, and weighs 6.4 pounds, surprisingly. Despite being lightweight, it can handle pretty decent sized diameters (at least 21″ in my experience).
It is very similar to 12-inch ECHO with all the qualities that make it great. From scratch to almost finished, this can handle the majority of heavy activities required.
Heavy duty option that is perfect for beginning any project with. Best for removing lots of material on large workpieces.
Among all the popular brands of wood carving chainsaws, Husqvarna is a widely recognized name. Simply put, they are unparalleled compared to our previous recommendations. The 18-inch 455 Rancher is a gas powered machine used for bulk wood removal, and compatible with the toughest of jobs. The 20 pound tool has a 3.49 hp engine to fill the shoes of any project that requires a high powered option.
The brand name chains that come with the machine are designed to over perform regardless of the job. Which, as soon as you turn it on, becomes very apparent. The bar it comes with has the most ideal profile that gives it a durable nose, bearing system, and center plate design. Using it could get tiresome after a while given its weight, but that big boy will shred through anything you put in front of it.
About Wood Carving Chainsaws
A small, but incredibly important fact about wood carving chainsaws is that they are different than regular chainsaws. In comparison, there are several key features that make those differences quite distinct. Before buying the best chainsaw for wood carving your project, be able to recognize what those are, and how they effect their performance.
Having a tool that produces the most amount of power over its competition doesn’t always equate to it actually being the best option. Obviously, small to medium size workpieces won’t require deep cuts that a larger and more powerful tool would be capable of. Likewise for trying to pair a smaller tool to a larger project, it’s great for detail work, but probably isn’t great for bulk material removal.
Finding the right balance between power, or having a variety of tools that with a wide range of power, will help establish limitation of your project size.
Chain bar & chain
Chainsaw bars for wood carving can range anywhere from 8″ up to 18″. The shorter bars are designated for small projects, and/or detail work. As they increase in size, are used for larger workpieces, and deeper cuts.
Almost all of the best chainsaws for wood carving utilize a bar that has a tapered end. A dime tip bar is going to be the go to type of bar that works best of wood. General carving can be done with the traditional shaped bar, but for detailing, and most technical cuts, the tapered bar will be a better choice.
Gas/ battery/ and corded electric
An undisputed fact about these three options is that gas-powered chainsaws are unparalleled in terms of power and chain speed. However, corded and cordless electric chainsaws certainly have their own purpose that makes them useful, more so than gas-powered options, for a given circumstance. This is to the user’s discretion, so, depending on the circumstances of your workpiece, you might find either the cordless or corded chainsaw a better fit.
Carving wood with any kind of powered tool kicks up small debris that is capable of being inhaled and causing permanent damage. Wearing eye protection isn’t nearly enough, protecting your mouth and nose is incredibly important as well.
I recommend a mask that filters out the wood chips. An adequate air filtering system is absolutely necessary to establish proper safety precautions to protect you in the long term.
Best wood for chainsaw carving
Wood can be rather finnicky. It can have a really great color, but be really susceptible to splits and cracks, or it can be easy to carve, no matter what you do to it, but have a rather bland tone. In addition, the wood could end up ruining your saw, or your workpiece, altogether.
Wood cracks toward its center, as we can see in this picture, and sometimes there are even multiple cracks. If you were working on an intricate piece on any one of those logs, your project might end up splitting where the crack is most prominent Some wood species are more susceptible to these cracks than others, but a good solution is to do a relief cut down through the crack.
Alternatively, you could start the workpiece from the bottom up, eventually cutting through the crack to relieve that tension.
Instead of grabbing the first wood you see, here are some other things to pay attention to:
- Dirt, mud, and bark will dull your chain, so know the origin of the wood, especially with freshly cut trees.
- If you’re a beginner, avoid woods like fir, oak, or alder since they are harder to work with an require constant chain maintenance throughout the project.
- Pay attention to other splints and crack in your workpiece, things like wind create stress fractures in the bark which could also ruin your project.
More suitable woods to work with would be like cedar, basswood, or really any other softwood available to you.