Yelm Country Carvings Offers Chain Saw Art to Community

By Brandon Hansen / For the Nisqually Valley News
Posted 3/8/22

About four years ago, Tracie Zumach’s partner, Bill, brought home a fir log.

Zumach had never used a chain saw before, but wanted to create something out of the log.

“I got this …

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Yelm Country Carvings Offers Chain Saw Art to Community

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About four years ago, Tracie Zumach’s partner, Bill, brought home a fir log.

Zumach had never used a chain saw before, but wanted to create something out of the log.

“I got this wild hair to carve it into a snowman,” Zumach said.

Fir is one of the toughest trees to carve into, but the experience was a lot of fun for the couple as they learned how to use the tool and discovered that art can be created out of something as simple as a piece of wood.

After talking to people around the community, Zumach learned more techniques for chain saw carving and took a three-day class from George Kenny. That supercharged her new-found hobby and eventually it resulted in about 50 carvings that sat around Zumach’s yard and property.

“Neighbors were beginning to ask about what I was going to do with them,” Zumach said. “We had a yard sale in May of 2021, and people at the sale kept asking me how much the carvings cost.”

That led Zumach to start selling her artwork.  She created a website and attended art festivals.

“The big change was when I went to the Eatonville Art and Music Festival,” Zumach said. “I brought 40 carvings and came home with three. That’s how it started.”

Zumach created Yelm Country Carvings and has since made a big name for her bear, penguin, turtles, eagles, Santas and snowman carvings. Bill built her a workshop to do her work in, and since then, Zumach has turned it into a rewarding hobby.

She has been to some community gatherings since and sold out at those events as well, which has been somewhat shocking to someone who just sees it as a nice side project.

“I have a full-time job and this is a hobby,” Zumach said. “I’ll come out to my workshop for an hour or two after work, and over the weekend I’ll spend three to four hours just doing stuff. I try not to let it take over my life. I could be a lot busier but it’s just something fun.”

Zumach now has four chain saws: an Echo with a 14-inch bar, a Stihl with a 10-inch “dime bar” with a small tip, a Stihl with a 16-inch bar and a battery powered Stihl for simple things. 



“I have definitely noticed my arm muscles have gotten a bit bigger,” Zumach said. “But really these are rather lightweight chain saws. They’re not as taxing as say the chain saws they use for logging.”

Zumach said she uses all of the proper safety precautions and equipment when using the chain saws, but she noted the tools and her angle grinder do pose a degree of danger when carving items.

She said it can take an hour to an hour and a half for most of the average-sized carvings, although that really depends on the piece. It can sometimes take a few weeks to get a complex piece completely carved out.

Zumach uses online pictures, YouTube videos, books and whatever else she can find for inspiration. She said every carver has a little bit of a different style and every piece turns out differently.

“Sometimes I need to sleep on it if it’s not turning out right and have a fresh look at it the next day,” Zumach said. “One of the challenges is if you hit a knot something can pop off, or sometimes you hit the dirt or a nail and that dulls your blade.”

For any repairs, Zumach goes to Home J&I Power Equipment in Yelm. When it comes to getting the logs, she looks around the area for them and also has a supplier who lets her know when they get new logs in the yard.

“I haven’t really had a challenge with that so far. Sometimes the price isn’t right but it hasn’t been an issue finding logs,” Zumach said.

Zumach has also made custom designs like sailors and orcas. She said the community seems to like what she creates.

“I can’t keep things in stock,” Zumach said. “I think it’s just fun and a good outlet for me. It’s relaxing to be out in my workshop to do my carvings.”

People interested in getting a carving from Zumach can reach her at 253-278-9814 or by email at tlzumach@hotmail.com. She also has a website at https://yelmcountrycarvings.com/ and a Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/Yelm-Country-Carvings-100355565192397

Her workshop is located at 19438 Cook Road SE in Yelm. She said people are welcome to stop by if they are interested in carvings.

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