Old Trees Find New Life Thanks to Randy and His Chainsaw

Randy Boni, an expert chainsaw sculptor.

Randy Boni, an expert chainsaw sculptor.  


Chainsaw? Yes, you read that correctly. Though it may be a tool more often associated with tree removal than artistic craftsmanship, even a chainsaw can be used to produce elegant artwork.  In reality, it’s simply another way to remove wood, just as a lathe or chisel might, only faster. In the hands of an artist, the results can be amazing. Part of the fun of Randy’s profile is exposing other craftsmen to the many skills which can be demonstrated through practice. Even a tool as unlikely as a chainsaw can produce beautiful results with enough talent, practice, and dedication.

Randy Boni was discovered after some videos of his work were found on the internet. When comparing Randy’s work to other wood carving artists, his sculptures seemed to be among the most life-like and detailed. For that reason, his fine craftsmanship is being showcased here. When it comes to chainsaw carvers, Randy is among the best of the best.

Randy carving out a sculpture with his chainsaw.
More progress on the chainsaw carving.

Randy carving away on one of his projects. 

Carving Full-Time Since 1989

Mr. Boni is commissioned by commercial, public, and private property owners around the country to sculpt dying or damaged trees into high-profile landmarks. Working primarily with a chainsaw, Randy is regarded as one of the most proficient chainsaw artists in the country. He has always depended on wood for his own livelihood, and has a deep respect for trees, conservation, proper forest management, and the safeguarding of nature—as opposed to destroying it. Randy noted that, “If a tree is dying or has to be taken down, I feel I’m preserving some remembrance of the tree with my carvings.”

Randy is the son of Mr. & Mrs. Eugene Boni, of Ridgway, Pennsylvania. Having grown up near the Allegheny National Forest, he was able to surround himself with wildlife like deer, bears, red-tailed hawks, pileated woodpeckers, and elk. These animals always gave Randy a realistic reference for his wildlife carvings. “I’m fussy about realism, proper proportion, and I try to bring life into the creatures that I carve,” stated Boni.

A close-up of Randy's carved wooden bear.
Another detailed bear carving.

Randy’s carved animals have a subtle, lifelike quality not often seen in sculptures done with power tools. 

Interestingly, Randy doesn’t attribute his three dimensional carving skills to the blindness that he endured for over 30 years of his young life. He remarked that, “My twin brother and I were born with a hereditary condition known as cataracts. We were legally blind, and could not see well enough to play ball or fit in all that well with sport endeavors, although we sure tried. All of us kids went to Catholic school until ninth grade, then we attended public school. Gym, art, and woodshop were my favorite classes.” Boni went on to say that he enjoyed drawing, spinning clay, carving soap, and using his hands to create dimensional form. Then, in his late thirties Randy had surgery on both eyes and was able to truly see for the first time. Reflecting on the change, Randy said, “The very first thing I did was run out to East Branch Dam to see the thick cable across it. People used to ask me (astonished), ‘you mean you can’t see that cable?’ I couldn’t even see that a leaf had veins, or that a flower had individual petals. I can see now, and I know how fortunate I really am.”

Three turkeys carved into a log horizontally.
The turkeys after final finishes were applied.

Three turkeys carved into a log horizontally. The first picture shows the carving after completion, and the second shows the carving after a final finish was applied. 

“My whole family is creative—they carve, play music, paint, throw pottery, build kayaks, and my sister Becky has a way with horses. We all have built our lives around our creative passions. My brother Rick and his wife Liz have started their very own Appalachian Art Studio, located in Ridgway, where people can visit or take classes if one should want a creative experience,” Boni added.

All things considered, the artist is happy with his creative lifestyle. Although very humble, quiet, and understated, Randy said that he never prays for money, just for work. He hopes to work until old age, expressing how much he loves what he does. “I’m a fool about it, I’ve built my life on creative expression,” replied Boni.

Randy’s landmarks are sprinkled all over the country, offering lasting impressions for any viewer. “I love what I do, I’ll leave a little something behind when I’m gone,” said Randy, as he carved out another sculpture cementing his legacy—as well as the wildlife which inspired it.

See more of Randy’s remarkable chainsaw carvings.

Additionally, watch Randy carving an eagle at an event in Germany.

Randy and his twin brother, Richard.

Twin brothers Randy and Rick Boni are both artistic carvers who sometimes team up at exhibitions to create a single piece.

Artisan added: June 24, 2009 - Last modified: September 20, 2022

Presented by The Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship