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Felling a partial blow-down

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Jerry_NJ, Sep 18, 2008.

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  1. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    I have a couple of blow-down trees on my back property. These are small hardwoods, perhaps 12 in diameter at the base and 40 feet tall. Both have been uprooted by wind and blown against adjacent trees. I'd say these trees are at about 60-70 degrees from the horizontal, or 20-30 degrees off the vertical.

    Is there a "best way" to bring these trees to the ground using a chain saw? It seems to me, in fact I've done it before, cutting the trunk at about waist or similar height by making a hinge type cut, the "V" cut from the top and the back cut from the bottom. The only problem I see with this is the tree portion above the cut may have travel/fall in ways that are hard to predict. I'd guess the total wood in these trees is no more than 500 pounds.

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  2. Vic99

    Vic99 Minister of Fire

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    Great question! I've wondered this myself.

    Not the same, but I cut a 10 inch birch was broken about 6 feet up by a storm and it was tough to predict where it would come down. Top of tree was tocuhing ground. Fortunately there was really nothing to hit when it fell almost 90 degrees left of where I thought it would.

    Interested in what people come up with.
  3. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    20-30 degree lean isn't much, which makes it safer to work on than a 45 degree lean. I would throw a rope or chain around the top, hook up the comealong and get some force on it, notch that tree well on an angle, cut a felling cut that leaves a generous hinge, then winch it down with the comealong. Make sure to check for loose branches up there first! Use your car if you can.
  4. moondoggy

    moondoggy New Member

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  5. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    When cutting a tree like this it is also VERY important to note any tension or hinge points. Both of these will cause unpredictable results without really looking it over. If in question, try to chain (cable, rope) the tree off so that the tree will NOT go in the undesirable direction.

    Your hinge and back cut method is the same (or close) to what I use. I typically make a "small" wedge cut (if any) because I prefer the hinging action of the tree to be more towards the top of the log during its fall.
  6. ansehnlich1

    ansehnlich1 Minister of Fire

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    with all due respect:

    If you have no idea how to drop these trees you probably shouldn't.

    My bet is the guys over at arboristsite.com will tell you the same.

    I had a walnut, it was a leaner, fell into another tree, 45 degree lean. I hooked 40 foot of chain around the base of it and pulled it from the root, away from the tree it was snagged in, until it fell. I suggest you do this, or get a pro to drop 'em.

    Ain't no doubt in my mind a 12 inch dbh tree can kill a guy if it falls on him.
  7. BJ64

    BJ64 Minister of Fire

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    Can you show us a picture of this mess? I agree with AP and the others about needing to get some pull power attached to the top part.

    If I envision this right here is how and why I would do it.

    If the root ball of the tree is still semi attached to the ground it will make pulling the tree via pickup or personal vehicle nearly impossible according to my experience.

    I would start at base and cut chunks out there if you can get the bar under the log and cut upwards to avoid getting the bar pinched. This would detach a lot of weight from the overall mess and disconnect the mess from the root ball making it easier to pull the rest of the tree down and away from the other trees.

    Scratch that! I totally miss read what you plainly stated. I understood you all backwards. Your trees are more straight up rather than lying down. I have to agree with AP and Jags in this case. Just don't under guess the weight of that tree. With limbs leaves and all, I am sure it has to be more that 500 pounds. On the other hand just stay alert and you will figure it out as you go.
  8. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    Yes, both trees are more vertical than horizontal, i.e., greater than 45 degrees up from the horizontal. They have been dead for some time, so no leaves or many branches to add to the complexity. They are far from my house and across a brook, so the only pull leverage I can think of getting there is a manual "come-along", and I doubt I can generate more than a few hundred pounds of pull with that. I may just let them stand and blow down the rest of the way before I tackle cutting them for fire wood. Then too, they may rot in the lean position, before the full blow down occurs, there is already some deterioration of the wood as they stand, bark mostly gone on the one I've look at most closely.

    I have a good path of escape too and have cleared (weed whacker) undergrowth should I have to jump back and run...my main strategy.

    The cautions given are well taken, thanks.
  9. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    Here are pictures of the standing blow-downs.

    Picture Tree1 and Tree1a are the same tree, about 12" in diameter. Tree1a shows the trunk is absent bark on the lower portion. This tree may be closer to 50 degrees over the horizontal, not the 60 degrees I first estimated.

    Picture Tree2 is the other tree mentioned. It is more vertical, perhaps 70 degrees over the horizontal. It is also smaller, about 8" in diameter and is really lightly held, to my eye, by the tree it is resting on. I'd expect this to blow down in any high wind, but obviously has not done so yet.

    I estimate the total firewood I can gain is about 1/3 cord, so not worth too much work or risk. I can buy 1/3 cord delivered for about $75, if purchased a cord at a time.

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  10. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Jerry you can do it brother...forget about a hinge cut. Just carefully cut two single notch's 16" apart on the underside then ...have a look see. then keep bouncing back and forth cutting a little bit from both notches. Try and do this from no higher than waist high when it looks like it starting to pinch then continue to cut from the top side.

    When you're making a cut like this take your time cause the tree, when released, will want to smash your trailing foot...but it won't cause you're cutting it from waist high or below. Sometime the stumps will pull back upright...and sometime they won't.
  11. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    do you have any pics of the top of the tree where it is hunp up!
  12. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    Thanks, I've played a similar game with another tree that was almost horizontal due to it not falling where I wanted. It was sitting on the hinge with the top of the tree, a live tree with lots of branches, stuck in a fir tree. I came back with a sledge hammer and gave it a whack away from myself. I don't recall haw fast things happened, but I do recall never being threatened.

    Pictures of the top will have to be another day, but I can get them tomorrow, perhaps the results will also be of value to other readers.

    In words, the second tree, the smaller one, looks like it could be pulled off with a small force. A manual come-along may do it if needed.
  13. ansehnlich1

    ansehnlich1 Minister of Fire

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    That first tree can be particularly dangerous depending on how it is hung up on top. If you cut it off at the base it could do near anything, kick back, roll around to the left or right, or just kick forward and plant the butt a couple inches into the ground. If you don't have ability to hook up tractor and chain, and the top is hung up real good, you'll likely wind up with the butt stuck in the ground and the tree still standing, just more vertical.

    Before you do anything, make sure there is NOT any limb or limbs or other smaller trees that could snap, fly back, and nail ya on the head when you cut the main dead tree there.

    I suggest you go to arboristsite.com and post your pic for better advice if you're feeling like you just gotta cut the thing down.
  14. rich81

    rich81 Member

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    two words. Barber Chair! whatever you choose to do be very careful. a tree leaning that much doesn't need a directional cut in my opinion
  15. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    Here is what the top looks like for the two trees. It is hard to depict even with a picture. I'll add some words.
    The small in diameter more vertical tree (right hand photo) is laying on the right side of the supporting tree, this one seems to have only two direction in which the top can move: to the right and down. The larger diameter tree at the flatter angle is in a crotch of the tree, so it seems it can move only downward, neither left nor right, at least not until is has slid down enough to clear the crotch it is resting in.

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  16. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    Brought down one of the subject trees, the one on the right, more vertical one, in the post above. I reported part of this information on another tread about Craig's list, but figured it needs to be here to...brings closure.

    First thanks to all for the help, encouragement, and words of caution. I'm not hurt so the words of caution helped/worked.

    I brought down a 40+ foot dead hardwood tree that had blown over against another tree. This tree “drop” had its risk factors and I used a manual come-along to control the pull down. As I didn’t have the strength even with the come-along to pull the tree off of its leaning position, I had to cut the tree in a “mock” take-down method, cutting a hinge - then using the come-along to develop enough force to break the hinge. Interestingly this resulted in the lower section coming free, and the tree leaning against its neighbor just slid down and stuck in the ground. I had to go through this cut and pull three time before the tree came down to the ground. Each of these three sections were about 3’ in length. In fact the final bring down required that I kept backing away and finding another tree to anchor my come-along as the final pull down was at a point that the remaining tree was light enough that I could drag the base (plow like) resting on the ground along until the top fell out off of its neighbor. I'd guess for all the work I got about 500 pounds of hardwood...still have to move the 3' sections, I cut on site, across a creek to my tractor/trailer before I can get them to the shed for final cutting into 18" lengths, and split and stack. Boy, getting that "free" firewood is a lot of work.

    I'd also comment, and will look for the tread on the subject, the dead tree had dead, at least 3-5 years, poison ivy vines. In another discussion we talked about how long it takes for dead ivy to lose it's ability to irritate skin. I wore gloves, but ended up touching everything else I later touched with my hands, and the was a lot of "dust" from the cutting. This was all done about 5 hours ago, and I have had a good shower with lots of soap. So far not reaction to the ivy, I think it may have all been inert. Please don't take this a proof that ivy cut 3 or more years ago is safe to handle, I may yet get a problem, and will assume I got away with it if I have no problems by tomorrow morning. To my knowledge I have only a mild sensitivity to poison ivy, it gets me but not real bad.
  17. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Jerry if you cut wood there's no way to avoid poison ivy, get yourself some over the counter 'Tecnu' and when you're finished rub some into all your exposed skin including the face. The directions recommend washing with it but I put it on like a lotion while I'm still outside.

    Because of poison ivy I've migrated to cloth gloves...the yellow ones you get at TSC by the 10pack. When I finish cutting or changing oil I just throw 'em into a gal bucket of real soapy water I keep in the garage. After a 24hr soak I take 'em out and lay 'em on a trash can to dry. so you end up with kind of clean gloves that wont cross contaminate steering wheels etc.
  18. Duetech

    Duetech Minister of Fire

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    Fast orange works well with poison ivy if you use it right away. I'm pretty sensitive to poison ivy and poison oak but have worked bare handed with it for just a few seconds then washed with Fast Orange and never had a blister. It's the oil in the ivy/oak that causes the reaction and blisters. The orange works the oils out (and maybe inert) so you can wipe them away. I still rinse off as soon as possible...Cave2k
  19. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    Thanks, I'll check on getting some Tecnu. We have used "green soap" over the years to wash off the oil, and whatever for itch (we liked RullyGel - not sure of the spelling, it was purchased by Johnson and Johnson, and is now called Band-Aid anti-itch gel. Is "fast orange" the soft hand soap? I'd guess any of the hand cleaners sold to help auto mechanics clean up would cut the ivy oil. I'll keep that in mind, and I may even have some fast orange, I'll check on my next trip to the garage.

    I went down today to move the 36" long rounds up from the back woods to the house area. I used a small hatchet to trim off all dead ivy "hair" and vines. While I was again wearing gloves, that's the only protection I had. I took a good shower/bath after I was done and still have not signs of ivy infection. Again, I think at least in this case the ivy being dead and exposed to the elements for 3+ years was enough to dry up all the ivy oil.
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