By Leigh Ann Rutledge
A tree marked for removal + a man with a chainsaw = a majestic piece of art.
A white oak tree, which stood majestically by a gathering area off the parking lot at FFA Camp Muskingum, was marked for removal.
“Forestry officials told me it’s on borrowed time,” Todd Davis, camp director, said. “Several branches were dying and where it was located made it unsafe for kids to be near.”
Davis did not want to remove the tree but knew it had to be cut for safety reasons. He remembered meeting a chainsaw carver while he was working on a carving at Camp Firebird. A phone call to Dan Kidd of Conotton Creek Woodworks of Scio led to a carving of an eagle by the parking lot.
Kidd worked more than 20 hours over three days carving and painting/staining the eagle. The white on the eagle’s head is paint. Kidd used a torch to burn the body and then stained it to create the dark color.
Kidd noted the tricky part was working on scaffolding on uneven ground while using a full size chainsaw. The top of the eagle’s wings measure around 15 feet off the ground.
Davis said the camp’s Facebook has received numerous comments on the carving. “It exceeded my expectations,” he said.
How did Kidd become a chainsaw carver?
“I was a cabinet maker for over 30 years and used to sell firewood, “ Kidd explained. “I have run a chainsaw quite a bit.”
While working on a table project, the man wanted the edge of the table carved to look like natural bark. Thinking about it, Kidd decided using a chainsaw would be the best way to get the desired effect. Once he completed the project, he wondered what else he could carve.
His first carving was a bear and now, four years later, Kidd figures he has completed 1,000 or more carvings. He began doing small items gradually moving to larger carvings. He uses a Stihl saw and has a carving bar for detail work.
In 2017, he began doing larger carvings on location. Kidd has been drawing and painting since he was in junior high and very seldom draws a sketch of what he is going to carve. Usually, if he makes a sketch, it is for the customer’s benefit.
Eagles, bears and owls are the most requested carving figures but Kidd has done wolves, deer and even multiple animals on a tree. He can carve sayings or words in the carvings.
He has also created carvings of pets, such as dogs and horses. He created several carvings which are displayed at Diamond Lake Cabins.
Kidd’s favorite type of wood to carve is oak because it’s a hard wood, but not too hard. Plus, he said, it holds detail well and the natural color is good.
He can’t carve locust because it is too hard and doesn’t recommend cottonwood or Blue Spruce because they will split.
“With the damage from Ash Borer, people are losing Ash trees,” Kidd explained. “I can come carve anything you want, all you have to do is leave a tall stump.”
“It is quite physical but I enjoy doing it,” stated Kidd. “I don’t look toward retirement. As long as I am able to carve, I will continue.”
To learn more about Conotton Creek Woodworks and permanent or custom carvings, visit Kidd’s Facebook page or call him at 740-945-1165.
He will be demonstrating his craft and have items for purchase Nov. 11 from 12-3 p.m. during the Artisan & Local Author Faire at the Tuscarawas County Library, 121 Fair Ave. NW, New Philadelphia.