Janesville man makes an art of carving with chain saws
"You're carving with the most dangerous tool rated by OSHA," he said.
But in Wywial's hands, a snarling chain saw is a tool for making art, a natural progression, he said, after 25 years of woodworking.
"I wanted to see what else was available with wood."
Wywial, 46, of Janesville took up chain saw carving four years ago. At first, he worked on his own, but after getting stumped, he contacted Jerry Schieffer of Mukwonago, who at the time was president of the United Chainsaw Carvers Guild.
"He got me going with the basics," Wywial said.
Later, he tapped the expertise of Bob Younger of Eagle, who is an advanced carving trainer, and Jamie Doeren of Abrams, author of two chain saw carving books.
Chris Ranum of LP Tree Service, Janesville, is in his carver network, too.
Wywial's first chain saw carving project was a 3-foot black bear created from a 4-foot piece of Douglas fir. It was rough, but the shape of the bear's head, muzzle and ears were clear, Wywial said.
"I created it just to say I did it," he said.
Since then, Wywial estimates he's created nearly 500 chainsaw carvings from white pine, white oak, catalpa and Douglas fir. He uses five chain saws at his outdoor studio at LP Tree Service, where Ranum provides wood and space to work.
The chainsaws range from 2 to 62 horsepower with bars from 12 to 36 inches long. Some have tips as narrow as a dime.
Eagles, bears, Santas and totem poles are among his many hobby carvings.
Wywial also carves for charity.
After participating in the 2008 International Chainsaw Carvers Rendezvous in Ridgway, Pa., all of the pieces made by 180 carvers were auctioned, raising $47,000 to benefit diabetes causes.
In September, Wywial joined eight other carvers in Waterford for a 27-hour carve-a-thon to raise $17,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. His chainsaw carvings also helped raise money for the Becky Werner Foundation. Werner was killed by the same strain of meningitis Wywial suffered from while serving in the military.
"I lived, and she died," he said.
Wywial said his mistakes end up as firewood to heat his home.
Wywial's favorite creation is a two-piece totem pole he made for neighbors Tom and Karen Nightingale. He carved it from the stump of an elm tree struck by lightning.
The bottom has three goal posts and footballs—one for each child and grandchild. The upper half features an eagle soaring over pine trees.
"We feel very honored to have had this done for us," Karen wrote in an e-mail to the Gazette.
Wywial said he's fallen in love with chainsaw carving.
"It's a sickness you just really get into."