Power Tool Demonstration

Wood carving with Chainsaws and other Power Tools.

Talk and Demo by John Adamson and John Vaiders

Report byJill Smith 22nd June 2023.

John Adamson and John Vaiders gave  us an insight into the joys and dangers of using power tools fuelled by battery, electric or petrol. (Sadly, none of these are allowed in the club because of insurance, pollution, noise and dust.)

John Adamson spoke of the health and safety aspects of using these machines and the protective gear he wore when using his chainsaw. He told us of the dangers of working with yew and other toxic woods, especially not to breathe in the dust.

John A. explained how the various tools could be used to carve a yew log. Briefly, the chainsaw could cut the outside shape with  straight lines and some of the inside.     If the wood was not yew and the dust cancerous. he would use an angle grinder with an abrasive wheel to do further shaping the inside.    He thought an Arbortech wheel which fits on an angle grinder was too vicious and hard to control.

Power tools save a lot of chiselling but sometimes he felt it was good to slow down and use chisels because power tools could work too fast and not give time to develop the artistic side of the carving.

For more detailed power tool work he used a flexible drive shaft attached to his battery power drill. It looked like a larger version of a Dremel with bigger attachments..

For drilling holes or spaces in his carving he liked to use larger spade drill bits which have a straight bottom with a spike in the middle. The spike keeps the machine from ‘wandering’ into softer wood whilst making the hole.   Drilling a hole first makes it easier to hollow wood out, as it gives the waste wood somewhere to go.

After lunch we moved outside for a demo by both speakers.

John Vaiders showed us his safety gear and a battery operated chainsaw he bought in Lidl for £100.   He demonstrated his grinder and the many various attachments he had for it.    We were very impressed how the planing disc quickly smoothed the side of a log. 

The photo at the head of this article shows John Vaiders with our member Keith Salad checking how smooth the surface was. The grinder machine also had a “chain saw disc attachment” but John V  hadn’t used it because he had seen bad press reports saying people had lost fingers, etc whilst using it.  It was a later version of the Arbortech tool that JohnA did not like.

Nick Pantelides  showed John Vaiders how to form the shape of a large hedgehog using one of JohnV’s  finer cutting discs.

John Adamson then showed us the first cuts he was making into a yew log to help start Kim Winter off on her carving of an owl. They had studied the log and decided on how the carving would be developed. They had photos of owls to help them with the design.

John A. first showed the easier downward  cut using the chainsaw, when the weight of the machine helps with the cutting, The second cut was more difficult – an upward cut and that requires the carver to lift the machine against gravity and also push it into the log. Very hard work!










Here is a photo of John Adamson doing the harder upward cut on the yew log wearing his full safety gear – steel toe cap shoes;.chainsaw carver’s trousers which had 25 layers of nylon to stop any cuts; a high neck jumper to stop bits going down the neck; helmet with ear defenders and glasses or visor. On a colder day he would wear a woodturner’s jacket, with no dangly pieces and a high neck fastening. Sadly, after a jam packed day,  the demo had to stop because we had run out of time for today.

I was very impressed with the speed all these tools could remove wood, but was very aware of how fit and alert the user must be and constantly thinking of the dangers in using them.

Report by Gillian Smith