If you want to surprise your family and friends to mark a special occasion, why not give them something you made with your own hands? Maybe a custom wood ornament you made with your chain saw would be just the thing? In recent years, carving has gone from a way for professional woodworkers to pass the time on rainy days to a popular hobby for all.
We’ll show you how you can carve a lantern in just a few steps.
The right wood
It’s not easy to say what kind of wood is right for carving. All of them have their advantages and disadvantages. Softwood, such as larch or pine, may be very weatherproof, but it also has a tendency to exude resin.
As a rule of thumb, if you treat the wood right, there are almost no limits to the kind you can use.
So pick the wood you like best. Poplar, oak, Douglas fir and various fruit trees are especially popular.
Even occasional wood artists need the right protective equipment when working with a chain saw. Protection begins with your head. Always wear safety goggles or face protection and “personal” ear protection, such as ear plugs. Be sure to wear a helmet if you work in the woods. You should also protect your hands and legs appropriately. Wear work gloves, trousers with cut protection and lace-up boots with cut protection.
Find out more about protective equipment for using a chain saw here.
Please note that in certain countries, there may be specific requirements regarding personal protective equipment and that personal protective equipment is not a substitute for safe working technique. You should therefore necessarily pay attention to the operating instructions of your device.
When it comes to detailed woodworking, STIHL carving saws are the right choice. The special carving cutting attachments are low in vibration and recoil. The small bar nose allows for fine contours and precise carving.
Step 1: What you need
- Round log, approx. 30-40 cm in diameter, approx. 35-40 cm tall
- Tensioning belt
- STIHL hatchet
- STIHL chain saw
- Chalk for marking
- Personal Protective Equipment (see above)
Step 2: Form the basic shape
Before you fire up your chain saw, make sure you secure the round log to a sawhorse using a tensioning belt. Once you’ve done that, use the chalk to mark your first cuts. This will make it easier for you to guide your saw.
Now it’s time to use your chain saw. First, remove the core of the round log. Make parallel cuts on the right and left side that are approx. 30 cm deep. Rotate the log 90 degrees and repeat.
This method increases the risk of recoil. Always observe the safety instructions in the manual and only use this method if you have experience.
Reduce the height of the log to around 30 cm so that you can knock out the core with the back of the hatchet. You can use the remaining slice of wood as the bottom of the lantern.
Step 3: Carve out the basic form
Once you have the basic form, you can start in on the details. On all four sides inside the log, shave off enough wood to leave a consistently thick shell.
You can use the side of the chain for performing detailed work on the surface.
Step 4: Light slits
The basic form of the lantern is ready. Now you need to carve light slits into the wood so that the light inside the lantern can be seen on the outside. You can be as creative as you want when carving the light slits. Use chalk to mark them for a consistent result.
Inserting the saw increases the risk of recoil. Always observe the safety instructions in the manual and only use this method if you have experience.
Tip: Wait until after you’ve carved the light slits to remove the bark. This will help you avoid loose splinters around the slits. You can use a file and sandpaper to give the lantern a fine finish.
Step 5: The finished lantern
Post-treatment will help make sure the lantern remains a thing of joy for a long time to come. If the lantern is made out of completely dry wood and will be used indoors, then you’re finished already. If you used semi-dry wood, then treat it with an interior varnish suitable for use in children’s toys (such as a beeswax varnish).
If you plan to use the lantern outside, use a sculpture varnish for semi-dry carved sculptures. To illuminate the lantern, we recommend LED bulbs, which can be used both indoors and outdoors.