Carvers grind through three-day festival

Wonders from wood

Despite the rain and small audience at this year's Sawfest chain saw carving competition, four carvers were still cutting and grinding into their wooden sculptures in an effort to finish them up on Saturday.


This 6th annual competition, held at Scott and Sandy Hanson's Town of Living Trees Inc., lasted three days, and Scott Hanson said every day counts. The competitors -- Eric Berson, Jimmy Kitchen with his wife Carisa Curtis, and Scott Hanson -- had been working since day one.

On the third night, many even stayed with their carvings until nearly 1 a.m., and Kitchen turned his pickup's lights on his carving to allow him to work later.

"We've had a couple guys pull all-nighters where they screwed up, or something didn't work," Scott said about past competitions.

By the time the carvings were judged at 1 p.m., 40 to 50 hours had been spent on them, Hanson said.

Kitchen, who has been carving for a decade, said the process for larger wood carvings begins with a tall round from a tree. The carvers then cut out all the big features with chain saws, accomplishing a rough sketch of the finished product. He said he then sets down his chain saw and begins the finishing touches with grinders and sanders.

The carving Kitchen was working on in this competition towered over his head. He had to join two rounds together with screws and glue to achieve the height he needed. The body of the carving was a coral spire that he and Curtis had dimpled all over with grinders. An octopus groped its base, and around the top of the coral swam a whale.

"I drew it up quite a bit," he said. "It came out pretty close to the drawing I did."

Normally, Hanson's competitions are packed with both competitors and spectators. Last year, he said, such a large crowd arrived that all available parking was taken.

He suspected the rain and generally slow tourism season this year was responsible for the small number of spectators -- however, he wasn't deterred.

"All I want is the carvers to produce the best piece they've ever done," he said.

Dan Schwartz can be reached at