ST. PETERSBURGH, FLA - On a warm St. Petersburg afternoon, just outside a neighborhood market, a craftsman finds his muse in a piece of soft Maplewood. Dave Flori is about to torn a chunk of reclaimed log into his own personal work of art.
“I’m going to carve a bear. With his paws like this, just his head, shoulders and paws,” said Flori.
Dave is what they call a "saw dog." He makes art with his chainsaw. Dave was a tree trimmer for years, but once he retired, well, he had all that wood piled up. And he decided to get creative.
“You get out and do it every day, you get good at it," said Dave.
Dave carves more than bears. He’ll chainsaw pelicans parrots, fish, or totem poles, tooth-and-tongue tikis. He also carves letters into wood with his chainsaw. What he calls calligraphy.
Tools of the trade help a guy out. Dave is quick to point out his Kevlar safety chaps, OSHA approved, which look like they’ve seen a lot of action over the years. Then there’s his helmet system.
“The screen shield will keep the chips out of your eyes. I’ve also installed my own sound system," Dave said, pointing to the radio he’s attached to his hard hat. "I do like my music."
Dave keeps his overhead low. All of his material is either recycled or reclaimed. His contacts in the business will bring him truckloads of unused wood sometimes. Or he will go to area dumps and search for wood scraps with unique cuts of grain in them.
Dave’s work is priced to sell, and his fan base is growing. He still remembers the first time someone referred to him as an ‘artist.’
“You work all your life to get the notoriety and all that," said Dave. "I get a lump in my throat, goose bumps. What I do here, it’s the main thing in life I’ve ever stuck with, just waking up in the morning and being happy to do it, you know?"
Dave can be found at the Value Fair Market on 34th Street South in St. Petersburg, Fl.