Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - JAMES MCCARTHY Re­porter james.mccarthy@waleson­

A T THE end of the 1990s Chris Wood was made re­dun­dant from his job as a steel­worker. It was not the first time it had hap­pened and he was sick of the in­dus­try.

So he de­cided to be­come a chain­saw sculp­tor.

Twenty years on he’s one of the best in the world.

“It’s very phys­i­cal, it’s re­ally hard, pun­ish­ingly hard,” the 48-year-old said.

“That is why I like it, it’s re­ally phys­i­cal and takes a lot of ef­fort.

“You have got to hold a saw with a 120cc en­gine and a four-foot blade.

“It’s the same as a good sized mo­tor­bike en­gine with a steel blade on it.”

He has made hun­dreds of dif­fer­ent pieces. There are stacks of enor­mous cones, war memo­ri­als, faces and masks, an­i­mals, fur­ni­ture, min­ers and dragons. Lots of dragons.

In Au­gust Chris came sec­ond in the English Open Chain­saw Carv­ing com­pe­ti­tion, held in Cheshire.

“There were peo­ple from Rus­sia, Ger­many, and Slo­vakia and Ja­pan and the States there,” he said.

“The best carvers in the world were there.

“The speed carv­ing is the best be­cause you can sell stuff for a for­tune.” But it’s not the safest trade. “You have to go up­side down and get into all sorts of po­si­tions when you are do­ing it – me as well as the saw,” Chris said.

“You can’t just hold the saw and ex­pect it to do what you want it to do.

“It is in­tensely dan­ger­ous. There was a guy in the com­pe­ti­tion who has been do­ing it for years. He went through his pro­tec­tive trousers and he only had one layer of pro­tec­tion left.”

Had the blade con­nected with his is limb the re­sult could have beenn lethal.

“It would have gone through a main artery and he would have been dead in two min­utes,” Chris said.

“He showed me his hand and he had gone through his thumb two years pre­vi­ously.

“He had put his hand up to stop the saw from go­ing into his face. face.”

Chris be­gan us­ing chain­saws when he was a teenager.

“I was cut­ting wood with my dad,” he said. “I never used it for any­thing dif­fer­ent. That was at least 25 years ago and I met a chap who was a chain­saw sculp­tor.

“He was go­ing to a life draw­ing class I went to to get his sketch­ing up to scratch.

“So I got my dad’s old saw and made a cou­ple of faces. And I thought, ‘This suits me.’” He said he liked that the sculp­tures could b be made quick quickly.

“W “With a cha chain­saw you can get a shape real re­ally fast and it suited the way I like to work,” Chris, from New­port, said.

When Chris, whose busi­ness is called Wood Art Works, packed in be­ing a steel­worker he spent two years de­cid­ing what he was go­ing to do – be­come an artist.

“It was the only thing I felt I had the drive and the pas­sion for,” he said.

“It was al­ways what I had wanted to do since school.”

He warned wannabe chain­saw sculp­tors the work was not for ev­ery­one.

“Learn how to draw to start with,” he said.

“Then get a carv­ing knife and start whit­tling.

“Be­cause if you can­not make a shape with a penknife, you’ve got no chance with a chain­saw.”

Artist Chris Wood and some of the scup­tures he has cre­ated with his chain­saw

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