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Gonna buck up my first full tree - procedure advice?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by wahoowad, Mar 10, 2006.

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  1. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    I've always scavenged precut logs but never a whole fallen tree. Will be doing so this weekend - a tall (I guess now it's just long) wild cherry. Lots of branches. The tree is propped up perfectly horizontal about lower chest height. I figure I should start at the lowest branches and work towards the top end. Remove all the branches, then start at the top and buck it into 16-18 inch logs for my stove. I'll split and stack it soon for next season.

    I guess the tree will drop close to the ground when I remove the supporting branches. Should I try to put a few logs underneath every so many feet to give me clearance from the ground for cutting? Tree is 12-14" diameter. Should I cut in from underneath first or just cut straight down? Each cut will be at the short end and a 16-18" log will drop.

    All advice appreciated!

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  2. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Sometimes the branches are useful for keeping the stem off the ground so you don't run your chain into the dirt.

    There's lots of ways to attack a fallen tree, and it mostly depends on the circumstances. But in general, I start from the butt and work my way up the trunk, cutting off chunks as I go. If you start from the top, you might wind up with a short chunk on the butt, which is something I hate. Anyway, putting something under the trunk to keep it off the ground if it falls down is not a bad idea. Or, if the stem is laying flat on the ground, just measure and mark your cuts until you get to a spot where you can make an unobstructed cut, then cut the long piece into sections by cutting and rolling.

    If you decide to cut the lower branches off first for some reason, be careful because they may be holding the trunk up, and you don't want it to fall on you.

    You can start your cut from underneath if you have room. Otherwise, start from the top. It really doesn't matter. One trick for cutting from the top is to put a plastic wedge into the cut when you get about 2/3 of the way through your cut. That will keep it from pinching your bar. Not getting your bar stuck should be your main priority after safety. Along those same lines, be careful when cutting branches, especially if they're under tension. A relatively small branch can pinch your bar quickly and with surprising force, to where it can be difficult or impossible to free your saw without chopping or sawing it free with another tool or saw. That happens to me a lot, especially in the spring when I'm out of practice. If you start to cut the branch and you can see the cut starting to close, get your bar tip out of there and cut it from the other side.

    One more important safety note: A major danger when cutting up fallen trees is what is known as "spring poles." Spring poles are simply small trees or saplings that have been bent over when they were hit by the falling tree, and they remain trapped under it. As the name suggests, they contain plenty of spring energy and if you cut them wrong, they will fly up and hit you. The groin is one common target. The only way to stay clear of springpoles is to identify them and then cut them very carefully, or otherwise free them up.

    Good luck and let us know how it went.
  3. roac

    roac New Member

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    Above all else, take your time. No blue ribbons given out for finishing fast. If you get tired take a break. Not sure what will happen or where the log might roll when cutting a branch, just shut the chainsaw off and analyze the log carefully. The biggest advantage like Eric mentioned to start cutting at the butt end is that the more weight you remove from the log the less dangerous it is. Make sure those branches don't snap back at you when cut. That can hurt... trust me!! :lol: Good Luck!!
  4. joshuaviktor

    joshuaviktor New Member

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    Good luck, be careful, use common sense, i.e. DO NOT CUT FROM UNDERNEATH!

    No joke, I have seen it done. Self correcting situation though. As I was running towards him to tell him, the tree fell on him, because he cut the main branch holding it off th ground. He was not darwinized (amazing), but he was out of the running for tree cutting. He had to be hospitalized for broken leg, and sheer stupidity.

    After Katrina, LOTS of chainsaws got sold. Many of them went to people who had never held one before in their life. On the plus side, the hospital where I was was still open, and operational.

    Joshua
  5. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    OK, I'll try to leave some supporting branches underneath and work from the butt up. Fortunately the tree fell into a very clear area. It's just begging to be cut up.
  6. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    That's an important point about not cutting from underneath. When I talked about cutting from underneath in the previous post, it was a reference to which side of the stem (top or bottom) to start cutting from with the bar. But, don't EVER put your body underneath any tree or part of a tree that could conceiveably fall onto you. Because, like Joshua says, you could very easily wind up in the hospital or (darwinized) in the morgue. Very unpredictible things happen in the woods, and that's usually when people are hurt or killed.
  7. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    And don't forget to put on the most important part of your protective gear first. The cell phone.

    Me: "Hey honey, going to cut some wood."
    Wife: "Do you have the phone?"
    Me: "Yep."
    Wife: "Then call me from the ambulance this time. Not after they are through in the emergency room. Damnit!"
  8. carpniels

    carpniels Minister of Fire

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    Hi Wahoo, (or is it catfish?),


    Eric is right. I only cut up trees that have fallen and I deal with your situation a lot. Most important, after the usual safety stuff, is not to get your chainsaw pinched in a tree. Before cutting, look a the tree and imagine what would happen if you cut it, will it bend down or open up, that decides where you want to cut from (top down or bottom up).

    As to the branches. I cut as many that are in the air as possible. I move them away so that I can walk freely around the tree (safety). Any branches between the trunk and the ground are off limits. I cut those off once the tree is cut into 18" pieces.

    Good Luck

    CarpNiels
  9. got wood?

    got wood? New Member

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    to add to the safety message, make SURE you have the proper gear...first, bring a friend if you can...two sets of hands and two minds are much better than one. Second, invest in the proper gear, especially if it's your first time doing this. Chaps, helmet, ear/eye protection and good steel tipped boots. Seems like a lot, but it saved me from having to take a best friend to the hospital when his chaps protected his new saw from going through his femoral artery.

    Other than that...re-read the posts above, these guys know a *lot* about this line of work...the bit about taking your time is solid advice!
  10. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    tree is gone, I even split half of it today too. Cherry splits rather easy. No problems other than chainsaw wanted to die off idle. Had to fiddle with that. Tree was still alive and putting out Spring buds. I'm surprised at how smallish the pile of splits was after splitting ghalf of it - was expecting a larger pile. Maybe I'll have to go back and get the other one - it has been down singificantly longer and looks quite dry. Might be a good tree to get one of those Chainsaw Buddys on since it is laying on the ground.
  11. roac

    roac New Member

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    A 12-14" DBH tree should give you between .28 and .41 cord estimated.
  12. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Nothing wrong burning cherry, especially free cherry. Good to hear your first bucking the tree was safe and sucessfull.
    By all means cut the other one.
  13. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    Treat branches like a standing tree
    Cut BOTH sides
    I once again got my saw hung this weekend cutting down a YOOOGE Oak tree
    Felling went fine but the limbing I got carelss and got the bar hung, good thing I was able to get a shoulder under the branch and push up

    Now, if I could just take my own advice
  14. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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    Kinda funny Wahoo.... Looking up at the first oak I fell, I thought it would heat my house for a season.

    After felling, bucking, and splitting, I just kinda sat back and said.... "Is that it?"

    Now, I just do not pay attention and work away and cut/split all I can.

    P.S. When you first get started, its like "Whoa, this is serious". After many years, its just automatic ass & elbows.
  15. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    All split. It was still alive, and hence wet, and I'm wondering if it will be seasoned by next winter? I'd like to plan on burning it if possible. If, due to it almost being Spring, it won't season by winter then I might stack it in a different location than if it will be good for next season. The best I can give it is half a day of direct sun (once the trees leaf up) but plenty of open breezes. My splits tend to be on the medium to small size.

    I wish I could put it somewhere with full sun all day but my 1 acre lot is very wooded.
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