We had hoped there would be a fair amount of work we (well… more like Will) could do ourselves on the cottage. However, it would be hard to name a more dangerous DIY project than felling a big tree, and our trees weren’t just “big”. They towered 80-100 feet high over the house, growing right up through the phones lines. There’s the obvious risk of getting crushed by a falling tree. Trees can twist as they fall and make all kinds of other unexpected moves, especially if a random gust of wind appears. Add a chain saw to the mix, and—well, you get the idea. It’s not a job for the faint-of-heart. We were lucky Caleb Turner agreed to take on this project.
Wisdom of Arborist
- Never cut on a breezy day
- It is easier to cut up a fallen tree if you do it when the leaves are missing
- Grab the chain saw handle with an encircling thumb on your right hand and never release it during a cut.
- Stay away from hollowed-out trees, especially if they’re big. They are extremely unpredictable and dangerous to fell.
- Gas up the saw before beginning a cut. Never run out of gas halfway through a cut.
- Once you start working, don’t stop until the tree is down. You don’t want the tree to fall while you’re taking a break.
What does an arborist wear??? Safety Gear!
Safety isn’t a throwaway word when it comes to felling trees and running chain saws.
You must take it seriously. There are a few absolutely essential safety gear items you need to wear for any chain saw work.
Loggers helmet: The helmet protects you from falling branches, a major cause of logging injuries. Earmuffs and a face screen protect your ears and eyes. Safety glasses keep the dust out—you don’t want something in your eye in the middle of dropping a 4-ft.-diameter cottonwood.
Kevlar chaps: Kevlar fibers will stop a chain instantly should you happen to drop the bar against your leg. It’s the best logging safety device developed in the past 30 years, and it’s a rare (and foolish) pro that doesn’t wear them.
Felling wedges: These wedges will prevent your saw from getting pinched during a cut.
Planning the cut or how to fell a tree
#1- Estimate the fell zone. Trees are taller than you think and reach farther on the ground than you’d expect (maybe all the way to your shed). You can estimate where a tree will fall by using the “ax handle trick.” Hold an ax handle at arm’s length, close one eye, and back away from or move toward the tree until the top of the ax is even with the treetop and the bottom even with the base. Your feet should be about where the treetop will rest after falling. It’s just an estimate, though, so allow extra room if there’s something it might fall on!
#2 Clear a cutting zone.
Even when you’re sure which way the tree is going to fall, you’re still not ready to fell it. Cut away any brush around the trunk and clear two escape routes on the “non-falling” side of the tree. They should be about 45 degrees away from each other in opposite directions. The last thing you want is to trip while walking away from a falling tree.
#3 Size up the tree
Start by studying the crown of the tree. Look for dead branches that are broken but attached, or actually broken off and supported by other branches. Don’t even think about cutting down the tree yourself if you see any danger upstairs. You’re bound to knock a branch loose and have it fall on you.
Next look at the lean and the branch loading. If it’s obviously leaning in one direction or heavily loaded with branches on one side, that’s the way it’s going to fall. Forget the myth that a pro can drop a tree on top of an empty beer can. If it’s perfectly straight and evenly loaded—maybe he’ll get close. But if it’s loaded or leaning, he won’t have a chance.
Are there any buildings, fences, power lines or other things you care about in the felling zone? If so, skip the felling and call a pro.
ENTER CALEB TURNER
Caleb Turner arrived with his crew on a very cold winter weekend to tackle the locust trees.
Tom Ingersoll’s truck arrived to load up the felled trees.
The final bite…