Everyone knows someone who has a little carved bear outside their cabin. Chainsaw artist Adam Gale focuses on creating carvings that are more like sculptures that perfectly define the customer. “I want to do something different. I want to do something that people have never seen before, or that people can talk about,” Gale says. “I want to turn it into art.”
Gale began carving about six years ago after he casually mentioned wanting to try it to his father-in-law. “The next morning, I came out and he had a giant log sitting in the driveway for me. So I gave it a go,” Gale says. Gale has been working as a prop and sculpture builder for the past 20 years and has done many types of different art for his job. “Airbrush, mural painter, carpenter by trade,” Gale says. Chainsaw carving had been the one thing that Gale hadn’t done, but had always been interested in learning. So when his father-in-law gave him a chainsaw, he got to it. “Of course, I carved a bear. I made a hockey bear, because they’re a big hockey family,” Gale says. “And now I don’t do bears or eagles.”
Gale went on to create other impressive carvings like giant gnomes, frogs, roosters, moose and fish. One of Gale’s favorites is a carving of an old man with a lantern that he made for someone in Eden Prairie. “It was so big and on the back, it had little fairy houses,” Gale says. “It had a gnome door that lights up on the inside.”
Gale’s current project is a 14-foot Star Wars-themed chainsaw carving that he’s creating for tree owner Mike Smith. The carving captures Chewbacca, Princess Leia, Yoda and more. “He was like, ‘My wife likes Star Wars.' And I was like, 'Stop right there.' Because I’ve always wanted to do Chewbacca,” Gale says. Gale began the carving in the spring and he is still working away at it. He wants to make sure that people are getting what they’re paying for. “Any kind of money is a lot of money to me,” Gale says. “And if you buy something like this, you want to be able to show it off.” This carving is unique in that Gale will be adding metal accents to it, especially on the guns.
His work with a client begins by sitting down with them and asking what they’re interested in. Then he creates a design. Most of the time, he uses two-dimensional images as references, but with bigger projects like the Star Wars carving, he creates a model out of clay. “I need to be able to walk all the way around it to see how things are lining up,” Gale says. A wonderful bonus for Gale is that he has created friendships with the people who he’s worked with.
Gale has a full-time job and a family, so his life is busy. However, he takes at least two or three days out of his week to work on carving. “I love working with my hands. I have seven chainsaws. I probably have another 12 kind of tools — carving and grinding tools. I love working with tools and being outside.” In the end, it’s more than just creating beautiful pieces that people can admire. “We’re all temporary here. And I feel like someday when I’m gone, I still might have something here that’s got my mark on it.”