Wednesday, November 03, 2004

How to drop a tree.

Cutting down a large tee can be a risky and dangerous task. Many things can go wrong when cutting trees, and they often do. Some trees can grow to be hundreds of feet tall and so big around that two people cannot put there arms around it together. It is not surprising that these beasts can have a mind of there own, and are vary unpredictable when working with them. No matter what size the tree is, there are three steps that need to be taken. After the tree is chosen, a place for the tree to fall must be found. Once the spot is picked three tree must be cut and dropped perfectly into the spot that was picked. Then the tree is on the ground the limbs must be removed and the tree cut to length. Once this is done the final product is a couple nice straight logs ready to be dragged out and trucked to a sawmill.

Deciding which direction to drop the tree can be a hard decision. Many things must be taken into consideration. If the process isn't thought out, results can be devastating. The first thing that I look for is a clear path to the ground. To find this I circle the tree looking into the top. By doing this I can see if one side of the tree is heavier than the other, and which direction it wants to fall. The path starts from the vary top of the tree all the way to the ground. It includes the branches hanging out from the side. If there is an obstruction the tree can catch and hang off it. This tree becomes dangerous vary fast, there is no wonder why it is called a widowmaker. This can be avoided by picking a clear path and making the tree go there. Other trees must be taken into consideration also. Small trees are vary fragile and must not be damaged by a falling tree. These are the trees that will be towering over the rest in twenty to thirty years. If they are damaged when they are little they stand no chance of ever growing to a useful size. When dropping a tree they must be thought of and avoided at all costs.

Now that the path of the falling tree is planned it is time to think about how to cut the tree. It is vary important to have a sharp chainsaw when dropping trees. If the saw is dull it will cut anything but a straight line, this is a problem. Before a single cut is made I have to plan my way of escape. This is where I will go if and when the tree tries to fall on my head. The ground around the tree must be cleared of anything that could trip or slow my escape. Then the low branches are cleared from the tree, this way they aren't scratching my face and poking my eyes. Once the tree is ready a pie or wedge is cut out of the trunk of the tree. This is what decides what direction the tree will fall. The pie is cut so that the bar of the saw is perpendicular to the chosen path the tree will follow. Once the pie is cut and removed a cut is started from the backside of the tree. This is the finishing cut. It starts from the back and connects with the pie that was cut earlier. If all goes well the tree will drop right into that slot I picked and land with a crash on the ground. In some cases of large or unpredictable trees, wedges must be used. They are used to control which direction the tree will fall. Wedges are pounded into the saw cut that starts from the back and connects with the pie. Many times they are used during the cut, before the cut reaches the pie. It is best to have another person pound the wedges while the person running the saw continues the cut. This is the spot that i started when i was little, helping my dad in the woods by pounding the wedges. This is a good way to get a feel for falling trees. More than one wedge can be used if necessary. These wedges are a vary usefully tool that can keep a tree from crushing a car, house, telephone line, or anything else that shouldn't have a large tree fall on it.

With the tree on the ground it is time to remove the branches and cut the log to length. I like to start at the butt, or large end of the tree, and work my way to the top cutting the branches from all sides. Branches on the bottom can be left until all others are cut so the log will roll making them easier to cut. When the log is free of limbs it can be cut to length. If this is done wrong the entire tree can be waisted. Not all trees grow straight, most have a couple bends and sweeps. These sweeps must be spotted and taken into consideration while the logs are cut to length. The finished product should be a straight log, no sweeps, no limbs, and both ends should be close to the same size in diameter. A tree that was cut correctly can produce a surprising amount of lumber. This wood is used to build houses, bookshelves, coffee tables, or anything else built from wood. Most people don't have a clue where this wood came from or how much effort was put into producing it. If they where asked where it came from they would reply "Home Depot" and give it no more thought. Now you know that it started as a tree standing in the forest with a man circling the base, with his chainsaw at the ready.


Blogger johngoldfine said...

Very nice stuff. Nothing like reading expert information that has a lived-through feeling.

November 7, 2004 at 5:45 AM  

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