About 30 wood carvers are warming their chainsaws and getting ready to hack away at some wood this weekend in Graham as the second annual Southern States Chainsaw Championship returns to raise funds for first responders.
Rob Banda has been behind the chainsaw carving up amazing pieces of art for about seven years now and said he really stumbled onto the woodworking scene.
“I got laid off and after that, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I took kind of like a sabbatical, I took a few months off trying to figure it out, picked up a chainsaw and it was non stop from there I just kept going,” Banda said.
Banda kept going long enough to start up his own business carving pieces of art for others to enjoy.
This is his second year in the competition and since the wood that was supposed to be provided for carvers ended up not being delivered, organizers like Weldon Floyd changed it from a competition to a rendezvous.
“We got a hold of the carvers and told them we’re gonna have to cancel because we can’t get the wood. The carvers responded with give us a place to carve for three days and we’ll bring our own wood, we just want to carve,” Floyd said.
With the competition now out the window, Banda said it’s given him the chance to slow down and learn more from other carvers.
“This is a good venue to do that, even if you’re just starting to carve, you can come here and learn a lot from pro carvers on up to people who own their own business and other people that are just starting out,” Banda said.
Speaking of just starting out, Banda has some wise words for newbies wanting to get behind a chainsaw and kick up some sawdust.
“You know just try to get better than the last one, that’s all you do. You never stop learning, I mean I’ve been doing it for seven years and there’s still stuff that I have to learn. You know I see it I just can’t do it, so if there’s a carver here that I visit with that he can do something that I can’t do then I want to learn how to do that,” Banda said.
Aside from learning some new tricks of the trade, Co-chairman Weldon Floyd said the event will also benefit first responders of Graham between raffle ticket and auction sales.
“All this, they’re splitting their ticket sales with the first responders so our charity is going to get something out of everybody here,” Floyd said.
Floyd hopes that this event creates a chain reaction and grows larger each year carving out a new tradition for Graham.