A Robot Lumberjack Chainsaws Trees Into Chairs

We post this with the deepest of apologies to your favorite Amish furniture store.

Chainsaw sculptors are a sight to see. In ice or wood, it’s mind-bending to watch their rough cuts become intricate figures. Add a giant robot to the mix, and juxtaposition between industry and art gets only more fun.


The 7xStool is a furniture set carved by a robot wielding a chainsaw. An invention of Tom Pawlofsky and Tibor Weissmahr in conjunction with Echtwald and Kkaarrlls, the robot is basically a performance artist running a CAD script. In about 35 minutes, it turns a plain log into a pair of solid wood stools (along with what you could label either leftover scrap or a pretty cool-looking coffee table if you got a chunk of glass).

“A lot of people wondered about the relative slow speed the robot is moving. It’s caused by the electric chainsaw, which has to work in parallel to the wood fibers–the most challenging direction,” Pawlofsky explains. “The robot itself can do all the movements at least 10 times faster.”

It’s a fascinating idea–an industrial robotic arm is basically the peak of flawless efficiency as we know it. But this super robot is forced to wield a relatively weak and clumsy stock chainsaw–and then that chainsaw must itself cut through the dynamic, unpredictable ebb and flow of wood. On one hand, it’s this totally dumbed down experience for this robot. On the other, all of these unpredictable materials pose the robot’s greatest challenge ever. It’s forced with the same curse-inducing task that a human might do.

In presentations, the robot cuts stools that are then sold to the viewers. It’s a pretty fun idea that could work beyond the art world. I imagine crossing a Build-a-Bear with a Lowes, and using smart machinery to automate custom furniture. It couldn’t ever match the price of particleboard, but then again, seeing the actual trees inside our tables and chairs might make us cherish our furniture for more years to come. (Also, solid wood doesn’t tend to disintegrate like sawdust and glue do.)

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.