Before getting started, it is worth researching whether there are any training courses available in the area, as this can be a great place to start – as well as local colleges, some professionals will offer private sessions. A course that covers off the basics such as choosing your saw and essential maintenance will be good for beginners. For those working at a more advanced level, other courses will go into details about the best cuts and techniques for achieving certain designs.

Forestry Journal: MS 241 C-M saw.MS 241 C-M saw.


While there aren’t specialist saws, there are now plenty of chainsaw options available on the market that are suitable for carving. The weight of the tool you choose is important to keep in mind – as well as being a lighter weight that will make working over longer periods more comfortable, a smaller chainsaw will usually be easier to control.

Personally, I prefer to stick with petrol and my go-to tools that I use the most are the Stihl MS 241 C-M, which is my medium-sized option, and MS 201 C-M, which I use for detailing. As well as delivering high-performance, the combined non-ethanol fuel and oil, such as Stihl’s MotoMix, helps to reduce emissions and deliver better running.

If you’re working indoors or would prefer a battery alternative, Stihl’s Lithium-ion Compact Cordless range can be much quieter to run. Additionally, as the anti-vibration system in most smaller petrol saws can give a slight wobble in the tip of the saw, these alternatives are not only beneficial in helping improve accuracy for the finer details, but also allow the user to handle the tool for longer periods.

The first carving bar was manufactured around 25 years ago, and as well as offering better control, they give carvers the ability to make finer details that couldn’t be achieved with a standard guide bar. While it’s always recommended to carve as far as you can with a standard bar as it helps you learn how to manage the saw, carving bars are much more controllable and give less  kickback due to the small radius of the tip – meaning you can bore, scribe, and carve in greater detail. 

Once you have started work with your chainsaw and bar, maintenance should be carried out regularly to keep your tools running at their very best. Although you can use a machine to sharpen your chain, hand sharpening will usually offer a better finish. With the help of tools such as Stihl’s 2-in-1 file, you should find the most damaged cutter and when sharpening, ensure the cutter length is even for the best results.

Forestry Journal: The MS 201 C-M carving saw is equipped with a specially adapted anti-vibration system, a carving guide bar and Stihl RMS carving chain.The MS 201 C-M carving saw is equipped with a specially adapted anti-vibration system, a carving guide bar and Stihl RMS carving chain.


Whenever you are working with chainsaws, it is important to ensure you are using the correct personal protective equipment (PPE). When carving, lightweight options that offer good manoeuvrability and breathability are going to be the best. 

While most arborists might be working with chainsaws on and off over an eight-hour period, when carving you will likely be working with fewer breaks for a longer duration in an enclosed space so wearing the recommended PPE for chainsaw use is important. 


Depending on the finish you want to achieve, there are a number of other smaller tools to have in your toolkit. If you’re after a more rough and ready finish, you may choose to rely purely on your chainsaw. However, for a smoother and more detailed finish, an angle grinder and sanding equipment will help achieve this, while clamps will likely be needed in order to secure smaller pieces of wood. For shading and colouring, a small burner or blowtorch will help get your desired finish.

Forestry Journal: MS 201 C-M saw.MS 201 C-M saw.

For more information on Stihl’s range of chainsaws and carving bars, please visit