One-armed chainsaw carver is a cut above

BELFAIR, Wash. - When it comes to chainsaw carving, one Belfair man is a cut above the rest.

He uses all tools of the trade to create masterpieces, but some say it's what he's working without that makes his carvings truly remarkable.

He does it all with one arm.

"I saw what he was doing, and I thought people have got to see this," says one neighbor.

"It takes a lot of drive," says another. "He just wrestles these pieces around like they're nothing."

It's been said the purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our soul. And when Jerry Tallman is at work, that dust is flying high. Six hours a day, six days a week, he's at his Belfair shop, where his steel-toothed chainsaw carves each contour.

"You can shape that grain any way you want," he says.

Jerry will be the first to tell you it's a demanding job - working the wood with one arm missing.

He shrugs through exhaustion because he loves his work - even if he doesn't have all his tools intact.

"I can still feel my arm," he says. "I can open and close my hand - just it's not there."

His knees, stomach and chest stabilize each cut. It's a method years in the making - that Jerry had to learn after a logging accident claimed his arm 13 years ago.

"I was thinking, 'God, do I want to do this all my life?' and - wham - I was hit by a tree on my shoulder, and I was on the ground. Just that quick." he recalls.

The nerves were pulled from his spine. Doctors left his arm there for five years before amputating. Then it was back to square one.

"I can't feel sad about it. I have what I have," he says.

So he re-learned how to start a chainsaw, how to carve, how to live.

Jerry moves a bit slower now, but he says it gives him the chance to connect with his canvas.

"I get to read the wood a little bit better. I work with it a little nicer - use every bit of it to its advantage," he says.

Jerry says each carving can take up to three weeks to complete. He hopes to start selling his work once he has more to add to his collection.

And if making art truly cleanses our soul - don't bother Jerry. Draped in dust is how he wants to stay.