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How big a tree can you cut with an 18" saw?

Post in 'The Gear' started by tonelover, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. tonelover

    tonelover Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Southern NH
    I'm a relative newbie to felling but last summer I got lots of practice in, safely out away from any structures etc, etc. I'm starting to eye ball some bigger trees as my confidence is increasing but am not sure if there is a "rule" about how large a tree one tackles with a particular length saw blade. I have an 18" saw and am cutting mostly pines with the occasional oak and beech. But one of the pines I'm looking at seems to be about 24" in diameter and obviously the saw isn't long enough to go through end to end. I've read about plunge cuts and other methods, but if you are just doing a notch and back cut, where would you draw the line about the size of a tree you can safely tackle with an 18"? And what would be the best cutting strategy to tackle that with? Come in from the sides slightly? The tree does have a favorable lean in the safe direction. Thanks!

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  2. amateur cutter

    amateur cutter Minister of Fire

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    36" tree is not terrible with an 18" bar, 24" should be a reasonable drop. If you you have clear access from both sides, cut your notch/wedge from both sides, just be careful to line the bar up correctly from side to side. Same thing on the back cut, or cut in the sides a few inches @ 90 degrees to the notch, then a back cut. I would leave a little more hinge & wedge it over from there. Remember, if it doesn't fall you can always cut a bit more of the hinge, but you can never go back. A C
    Boog, Thistle and Backwoods Savage like this.
  3. tonelover

    tonelover Member

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    Thank you very much.

  4. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Another thing you should do yourself so you know is to measure from the dogs to the end of the bar and they you'll know how far you can reach. But there are some little tricks, like A C gave that can help you reach further if needed.
  5. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

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    I use only a 16 inch bar on my MS390. I would feel comfortable (not cocky- just comfortable) going after any tree up to, say 30 inches. Of course I'd have to cut from both sides but I would want to make sure the two cuts overlap. I've never experienced it but I can imagine bad things happening if there even a one inch tab in the middle of two cuts. The fall would be unpredictable.

    With an 18 inch Bar I, personally, would go no bigger than 34 inches but I don't have nearly the experience many of the guys here do. No one here will encourage you to do more than you are comfortable with.

    Be safe. Have a clear work zone and especially have clear escape paths running 45 degrees each way from the back of the tree. I've got a couple of big standing dead oaks that have been losing limbs so I'll be sure to where a hard hat, too.
  6. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    You say the lean is in a safe direction, meaning that if it went the other way it would hit a house? a street? a school house full of babies? The 390 is not a pro saw and a 30+ inch tree is a pro tree so you need to be certain. Out in the woods with no risk of damage if the tree does something weird I will cut anything that I can from both sides. Even if the tree doesn't fall, I'll come back another day or wait for the wind to blow it over.

    If you're in a city setting then I would pass on a tree like that unless your saw is adequate to do it without depending on luck.
  7. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

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    I'm the one who said he has an MS390. The OP did not say what saw he had, other than he had an 18 inch bar.

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