On a drizzly Thursday morning, Buck Allum's attention is on a discarded cedar log in his backyard. With chainsaw in hand and a mixture of rain and sawdust falling on the grass around him, Allum is breathing new life into the dead tree.
“I won't say I'm a tree hugger, although usually there's some of that involved in the process as you try to lift them and move them somewhere else,” Allum laughs.
In less than 30 minutes, the splintered chunk of wood will become an ornate Christmas tree statue.
“People will ask, 'can you make a Captain America shield?' 'Can you make a bear?' 'Can you make a little character from a movie'? And, I'll give it a try," Allum said, adding that his most difficult request was to create a life-size Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones.
For Allum, creating chainsaw sculptures is just a hobby he picked up a couple years ago when he saw it in Gatlinburg.
“All of this begins of course after I get permission from my wife,” Allum laughed. “I thought, 'you know, I could do that.' And of course, the boys [sons] said, 'oh dad, you can't do that.' And, that's how it started.”
“Lots of people say, 'wow, I could never do that. Who taught you?' You can pretty much do anything,” Allum said, crediting YouTube videos.
“I just picked up a very inexpensive Walmart saw for my first one," he said. "Over time, I got more equipment. There is nothing special or artistic about this. It's just practice. As you keep going it gets easier.”
But, to the lucky recipients of Allum's "practice," it's much more than a hobby, it's something special.
“I always do try to get a Nativity done before Christmas for the various churches,” Allum said. “It's great to see the kids when they walk up during the Advent season and see the carvings … Even if it's just for a moment to experience what it was like, to see a life-size carving with cows and sheep and see everyone sitting there. Even if it's just for a minute, that gives me pleasure."
Allum doesn't ask for anything in return. He's created nativities for churches in Jefferson City, along with mascots for the area schools.
“As people mention things, I'll sort of write them down. Or, I'll see someone I work with every day and say, 'hey, I've never done one for you before. What would you like?' And, it goes on the list,” Allum said.
It may only take him a few minutes, but for the people who receive his creations or admire them from the road, the enjoyment will last for years.