Revisiting the Garden Gnome House

The garden gnome house was carved out of a solid poplar log that fell during a windstorm. Poplar is not the best wood for carving — it splits and rots easy — but it was big, free, and delivered from the sky in our backyard.

The garden gnomes have their house in a raspberry patch with a waterfall flowing just below the winding staircase.

A Stihl MS261c with the factory bar was used. That’s a mid-sized saw that idles well so the chain can chew slowly without too much gas. This allows for more detail work without revving the saw to high speed. The smaller bar on a MS170 was used to notch out the stairs. See more here…


So how did it do after a year in the sun, wind, rain, and snow? Not too bad considering it had two litres of linseed oil dumped on it. There was some cracking and a polyurethane glue was injected into the deepest splits. The wood was also stained anywhere water collected. Time for another coat of clear sealer or linseed oil as winter approaches.

Chainsaw Carving – Garden Gnome House

The Garden Gnome House was carved and finished over two days from a dry poplar log we had sitting out back. A Stihl MS170 and an MS261C were used. Poplar is a “soft” hardwood and not the best for intricate work, but the log was there and its time had come.

The house was fun to make. Wearing ear protection with the saw revving, little imaginary stories start to form, and playful ideas become inspirations. Several plunge cuts were made for the doorways first, then the roof line and chimney were cut. The staircase resembles rock slabs and winds around the log, passes behind a waterfall, and goes over a bridge. A poplar tree is fashioned on one side, and a vignette of a mountain scene is under the bridge.  Three brass drawer pulls are used as footings to raise the standing log. LED lighting is threaded into the log interior to cast a warm glow…like someone is home.

It is finished with a torch and several quarts of polyurethane/thinner/boiled linseed oil mix. Poplar has a grey, mouse color when dry and the poly/linseed mix adds some rich yellow tones. The torch treatment is done before finishing and gives brown tones to the shadows and highlights.

The finished piece stands 6′ (2 m) tall, 15″ (40 cm) diameter, and weighs approx 120lbs.