How to Carve Tree Stumps

Written by shae hazelton
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You may think that old stump sitting in your front yard is just a burden, but you can actually turn that old stump into a work of art. Stump carving is more common than you would think. With the right skills and tools, you can turn that stump into anything from a sculpture to simple but pleasant designs on the surface of the stump. So the next time you consider tearing a stump out of your yard, think about making it into a carved conversation piece instead.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Chainsaw
  • Marker
  • Sandpaper
  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Measure the stump so you have an idea of what you are working with. This way you have an idea of how much you can take off and how much spare room you have in case of error.

  2. 2

    Sketch out your design concept. Use your stump's measurements to guide your sketch and ensure that it is possible. Try not to make your sculpture or design too thin; you want to preserve as much wood from the stump as possible to ensure the carving is sturdy. If you shave the stump down too far, it may become frail and break.

  3. 3

    Shave down the stump to the basic shape you want using a chainsaw. Exclude all details for the time being and simply master the overall shape. Take a marker and create an outline for where your detail will be. For example, if you are carving a bear, you may want to mark the location for the eyes, paws and nose to make sure you have the correct proportions. Continue carving in the detail once you are sure where it is. You can do this with the chainsaw or you can use a more delicate carving tool if you need fine details done.

  4. 4

    Sand away sharp edges or splinters on the sculptures by using coarse grain sandpaper. Part of a stump sculptures appeal is its rustic finished look. You can sand away all the chainsaw marks and make it completely smooth if you would like, though.

Tips and warnings

  • Put a coat of finish on your stump sculpture to make it last longer. This will help protect your sculpture from the elements like sun, wind and water.
  • Test out your stump before you start carving. Put weight on it and check for any areas that may be rotting. If the stump cannot support a lot of weight, or has some rot damage, refrain from carving it.
  • Wear gloves and goggles, and read all safety instructions anytime you handle a chainsaw. Failure to take safety precautions when handling a chainsaw can lead to blindness, injuring or death. Never attempt to stop the moving chainsaw blade with your hands.

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