Farm Horizons, February 2009

Waconia man creates chainsaw art

Caroline Wigmore
Staff Writer

A buzzing chainsaw is the “paintbrush” for woodworking artist Jim Bohanon of Waconia. Under his skillful hands, a piece of ordinary wood comes alive as he cuts away at blocks of wood to creative lasting artwork.

“If things are going well, I can get a piece done very quickly. I finished a 10-foot bear in 12 hours. Things just fell into place” he said of his chainsaw sculpures that evolved from an interest into a bussiness.

Jim Bohanon sells his wood sculpures from his Waconia location at Bear Country Carving, 5875 County Road 10.

“It was always something I thought I would like to try,” Bohanon said.

When chainsaw carving first peeked Bohanon’s interest, he turned to the local library to find resources, and after failing to find information there, he turned to the Internet.

“We located a school in Hayward, WI that taught chainsaw carving,” Bohanon said. “I signed up that night and the check was in the mail the next day,” he added.

After taking the classes, Bohanon set out to create his own chainsaw art.

“It is very gratifying to see a piece of art coming to life,” Bohanon said. His projects don’t always come easily though, he admitted. “Those are the days that I would go work on a wood pile and split wood. I try not to spend too much time thinking about the finished product, because I may change directions when I see different grains or a knot in the wood,” he added.

If Bohanon isn’t working on a wood sculpture, he is stump grinding, or splitting wood to sell or to heat his home. Because he works with wood full-time, Bohanon’s father affectionately used to call his place, “the wood farm.”

Both businesses and individuals seek Bohanon out for his wood carvings. The Waconia Elementary School is among those that commissioned a bench which had two stacks of books and a back held up by a paint brush, a crayon, a pencil, and had crayon armrests.

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“I had another local customer who wanted a totem pole for his girlfriend,” Bohanon said. “It took me some time to really convince myself that I was going to be able to succeed at this request,” After reading many books on the subject, he finally was able to create a pattern for the totem pole. “I got it finished and the girlfriend loved it,” he said.

When Bohanon first starts on a new project, the first step is to decide what kind of wood to use. Pine, oak, and black walnut are his woods of choice.

“If I have in my mind what I will do, I go right to work, though the wood is not forgiving at all,” Bohanon explained.

“Once that cut is made, there is no going back, and you make adjustments accordingly,”

Different projects take different amounts of time, but they are all time-consuming.

To view Bohanon’s work, visit his web site at www.bearcountrycarving.com. To reach him, call (952) 446-1533, or e-mail sales@bearcountrycarving.com.

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