My Outlook: Don Dulnuan, Chainsaw Artist
How did you get started in chainsaw art?
We moved here from the Philippines five years ago. I changed jobs a lot and never felt satisfied. But I loved creating something from nothing—like making old tires into sturdy flower pots and old barn wood into a nice coffee table. One day, I googled more ideas on how to recycle wood and chainsaw carving popped up. I checked out the videos and haven’t looked back—that was two years ago.
How do you get such detail with such a large tool?
There are actually bars and chains made specifically for carving. Like dime size tips and quarter tips for especially tight places to capture all those details. Furthermore, I use other power tools to refine the wood more, like angle grinders, die grinders and smaller rotary tools with different bits.
What is your favorite part about creating art like this?
From the time I start my chainsaw and until the finished product… there is a feeling I can’t explain where there is a connection between me and my chainsaw—that’s why I love doing it.
What is your favorite animal to carve?
I love anything that people want me to carve. I’m still searching for my next favorite project.
How do you become a chainsaw carver?
Many hours of hard work—practice, studying and researching what other chainsaw carvers are doing, and then develop your own style. I want to improve everyday. I like to challenge myself to carve anything a customer wants, even if it’s new to me.
Have you ever participated in a competition?
Last year I competed for the first time in Eureka Springs. I want to compete more so I can learn from other carvers, plus it’s good exposure.
What was the most challenging part about competing?
Finishing my carving in a given time. I did finish my piece but wasn’t really satisfied with it.
Do you have long term goals with your art?
To become a pro-carver and win international competitions, establish my own store and expand to other areas of wood working services like log and rustic furniture making.
What do you do when you make a mistake?
I usually divert or change what I intended to do, still producing the same result. If I can’t fix it, I start all over again. What I’ve learned from my past mistakes is to go slow, especially if it’s new to me.
Do you “see” the creation in the wood before you start?
Yes, for the most part. Whenever I see a log I usually walk around it and look for what is the wood is “saying” to me. From there I create something out of it. But if it’s a commissioned work I just carve what the customer wants me to create.
What type of trees are the best to work with?
I really enjoy working with cedar, catalpa, sycamore, cypress and red wood. In Oklahoma we usually have oaks and elm or other hard wood.
Any mishaps you could share?
I almost cut my left leg with the chainsaw but was protected by the chaps.
Do you do any other type of art?
I want to combine my skill of welding with my chainsaw art to produce sturdier, more functional carvings and furniture.
Check out Don’s Chainsaw Creations on Facebook, give him a call at (240) 538-1091 or email him at [email protected].