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Chainsaw sculptor makes things of beauty out of hurricane-ravaged trees

Chad Gainey
Chad Gainey (Facebook profile photo)

ST. ANDREWS, Fla. – On any given day, you might find Chad Gainey suspended 15 feet in the air with a chainsaw in hand.

For the 40-year-old artist, woodworking isn’t only a passion, but an escape from being sucked into a monotonous lifestyle.

“Everyday is something new and different,” said Gainey, who lives in Sunny Hills. “It’s a way to kind of give a second life to a tree that’s already gone.”

His current project lies within Oaks by the Bay Park in Panama City. There, he’s transforming a old oak tree into an octopus. He said city officials reached out to him for help shortly after Hurricane Michael.

With a nautical theme in mind, Gainey said the inspiration to carve an octopus just came to him. He expected for the sculpture to be complete in about a week.

“To me, it had that look to it already,” he said. “With something like this, it’s got a lot of unique limbs and twists to it.”

Gainey’s journey toward becoming a full-time chainsaw sculpture began in 2011, while teaching agriculture at Holmes County High School.

It was then that he started “playing around” with the craft.

“I’d carve stuff in the evenings and then come sell stuff at the (St. Andrews Waterfront Farmers Market),” he said.

In about 2015, Husqvarna, an international outdoor power equipment manufacture, approached him with a sponsorship. He then quit his day job and created Chad Gainey Sculpture.

“I spend a lot of time up in the air,” he said, adding that his wife oversees the business’ booking.

45 Minute Double Owl Time Lapse

45 Minute Cedar Double Owl Tree Chainsaw Carving Time Lapse www.chadgaineysculpture.com Husqvarna Chainsaws Used: 550XP 339XP 536LiXP 543XP

Posted by Chad Gainey Sculpture on Sunday, February 7, 2016

In addition to larger projects, he also works smaller shows including festivals, auctions and fairs.

For him, this keeps things interesting and helps him from getting burnt out on a certain style.

“When I’m doing the shows, everything wraps up within like an hour,” he said.

Looking ahead, Gainey planned to continue doing what he loves and expected to take on more smaller gigs soon.

“Each (sculpture) is almost like a puzzle,” he said. “You’ve got an idea of what the end result is going to be, but then, really, you have to find the pieces as you go.”