Sam Bowsher chainsaw carving

When it comes to chainsaw carving, Sam Bowsher learnt from the best – his father and celebrated craftsman in the field, eight-time Carve Cambridge winner 'Chainsaw Pete'.

Having previously worked as a welder, Sam changed direction after catching the chainsaw carving bug from his Dad, going on to win the Carve Cambridge competition in 2020 – albeit virtually. Today, chainsaw carving is now Sam's full-time profession and he runs a successful chainsaw carving business, completing sculpture commissions as well as competing in various competitions up and down the country.

When it comes to chainsaw carving, according to Sam, one of the most important things to consider is the type of wood you choose. Every carver has their own preference, but Sam's favourite species to work with is Western red cedar, which is native to North America. “I love Western red because it cuts nicely and quickly," he says, "the natural wood is beautiful, smells amazing, and it's a very durable timber without any added chemicals. Unfortunately, however, it’s not widely available for sale in Scotland."


A softwood which is more readily available, however, and which Sam recommends, is Douglas Fir: “I find it holds detail really nicely, and I like the colours in the natural timber. I also find it holds edges and shadows really well,” he confirms. For the majority of his chainsaw carved sculptures, Sam uses Sitka spruce, simply because “there's an abundance of it in Scotland and it grows fairly large. The downside to Sitka, however, is that it takes quite a lot of work to make it durable - meaning I have to apply multiple coats of wood preserver to each piece I make from it." But having said this, Sam says it carves well and he now has plenty of experience working with it."

And what about hardwoods? Sam says that while there's many wonderful hardwood species available, he does tend to favour softwoods, simply because they're readily available in Scotland. "For instance, people based in, say, Manchester may have oak on their list because it’s readily available to them,” he explains.


When it comes to the subject of the chainsaw carving, Sam says that timber choice is also crucial here: "If I carve something that's going to be delicate, I'll use a strong timber. When I carve Roe deer bucks, for example, I carve their antlers from oak, as the tines point in different directions across the grain and would be too delicate if carved from a softwood.”

Despite the current demand for timber in general, Sam says there's some species he avoids altogether: “Generally, a downside to a timber species is its durability. I apply preserver to nearly all my carvings to give them a helping hand, but there’s some varieties I avoid carving purely due to their lack of durability when placed outside – these include beech, ash and lime to name a few.”


Any timber can be used for woodworking in general, but when it comes to carving, Sam says that the fresher it is, the better: “The fresher the timber used, the easier it is, both on myself and my tools. As with all timber, it becomes harder as it dries out." Sam tends to buy his timber in loads, so he knows it'll still be suitable for carving in the months to come.


Sam's carving skill and expertise has developed at a fast pace, and it seems that this trait definitely runs in the blood.

To see more of Sam's carved sculptures and find out more about him, visit

Sam Bowsher Chainsaw Carving
07584 253242

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