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How to release a cut tree that is leaning against one or more other trees

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by SAABMaven, Dec 29, 2008.

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  1. SAABMaven

    SAABMaven New Member

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    G'Day experts !

    Recently we bought and moved into our first house in the mountains of Vermont. Some surprises (I think they were just throwing garbage out the windows, if the soil is any indication). Old mattresses, car seats, old cars, leaky batteries were dumped a bit further into the woods. Last Summer into the Fall I've been cleaning it up. I digress, now to the question. The DPO (dreaded previous owner), in search of free firewood, felled trees that were in the range of his Home Depot chainsaw. Some of these trees did not fall but lodged against other trees, and were abandoned. I would like to salvage these now seasoned trees for firewood.

    They're quite large. My tree books don't cover the subject of recovering a leaning tree. Has anyone done this? Anyone familiar with the technique? Would like to minimise risk, and learn...

    Cheers
    Rob in Vermont

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  2. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Tree's like that are a very difficult take...and you say they're quite large too. It can be done but that's not a skill you really want to depend on the net for advice cause of misinterpretations. Did you make friends with any tree cutting neighbors? Perhaps you can solicit their advice on each tree.

    Over the years we've harvested a lot of storm damaged trees like that... many times it would take longer just to think it threw and come up with a plan. Good luck SAABMaven
  3. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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    As posted above can be tricky if not used to do doing it. Hire a woodcutter/tree service, someone that is insured. Might be cost prohibitive, maybe they'll give you a quote. Trees do damn funny stuff when in this situation. Actually. not that funny, this can be a deadly deal. Widow makers for sure.
    Another way is to get a relative, one you dislike, that knows it all, and send them in the woods. Just a thought :coolsmile:


    Seriously, this type of situation has the potential to be deadly. For instance, you should know how to do a proper undercut on a tree, especially when not in open area(which I'm sure the DPO didn't do). This will help guide the tree in the direction you want it to go(hopefully). Also the tree will kick sideways if not done right. All kinds of things will happen that will cause serious harm.

    Someone with a cable skidder would be a nice set up. Then they twitch to wherever you want them.
  4. ansehnlich1

    ansehnlich1 Minister of Fire

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    Best advice is to hire a professional arborist.

    That being said...

    these trees are called leaners. They are best taken down with rope, chain, or cable via winch, tractor, etc.

    the tops of leaners like to snap, dead branches too, high up, can catch on the way down, you'd be amazed how far a "killer" sized log can fly when a leaner comes down :bug:
  5. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    There's not one pat answer. Every situation can be different. Keep in mind as well that a long dead leaner will behave quite different than a recently felled leaner or storm damaged tree. There's probably a section in your books on "Widowmakers".

    I worked as a sawhand on a pipeline hydrostatic testing and repair project where they would test miles of large pipe with high pressure water. Sometimes when it blew, it could take out huge sections of mature forest as large as a football field. I've never been in a tornado devastated area but can imagine it must be similar. Trees uprooted and/or snapped like toothpics, rocks and mangled steel hanging from the trees. Nothing could prepare you with a howto. We just had to get in there and get her done. I had a friend and coworker that was forever hanging up trees under normal circumstances and on this job he made it twice as challenging for me to get in there and save his saw.
  6. Sealcove

    Sealcove Member

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    I deal with big leaners and snags frequently as part of my work, and most often it is along trails that are not accessible by machinery. As others have stated, there is no one formula, every situation is different, and it could be very simple of extremely dangerous. If you are not 100% sure how to deal with this safely and/or are not properly equipped for the task, I would recommend bringing in some experienced help to stabilize the situation.
  7. bayshorecs

    bayshorecs New Member

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    Chain and tractor/truck to pull it down. Just had one yesterday do it to me and I need to get back over to it still.

    It was a 12" hedge tree half knocked down and leaning against another tree. I *thought* that if I fell the tree in the direction it was already leaning, it would slide down the tree it was against just fine. I cut through the trunk (about 3' off the ground) and it slide forward and dropped right in front of the trunk. Now, I have a loose tree standing against another. Not safe to look at let alone cut on again.

    I will be bring out a chain to pull it down soon. If you push on the tree, it rocks back and forth. Not a lot holding it there.
  8. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    yes along strap works great pull it out!
  9. Malatesta

    Malatesta New Member

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    If there not gonna hit the house or anything of great value, drop the other trees along with the leaner if you have Great expirence in felling.
    This can be dangerous and quite tricky cause some trees like to spin or roll . You can have a Tree service come in and fell the trees for you and buck them yourself if your not sure.
  10. bayshorecs

    bayshorecs New Member

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    I was watching a tree loggers discovery show (Mule loggers maybe) where the guy fell a tree which lodged onto another. They then decided to take them both down. When the tree went down, the base of the 3' first tree swung around and clipped the camera man who was standing 90* from the tree and the exact length of the base of the pivot point. The base took out the camera in his hands I think.

    If it was me, I think I would be cleaning out my chaps after watching that video! He should have bought a lotto ticket after that one.
  11. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    A long tow chain and a car/truck, if it's an option, might be the safest way to get them down. Just make sure the rope puts you out of the fall radius.
  12. dj2cohen

    dj2cohen New Member

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    In my opinion, cutting the tree that is holding the first one is like the Wyle E. Coyote cartoons where you see the coyote cutting the rope holding the 10 ton weight that is dangling over his head. I think that is not only one of the most dangerous things that one could do, it is borderline stupid.

    I saw the show that bayshorecs is referring to, and I amazed that is was aired. Sure, it makes great TV, but it shows a bunch of dimwits out there how to do it. The cutter in that show is just lucky he wasn't killed. Just pull the thing to get it loosened up. I think it would be a great idea if one could find a quick release mechanism to put into the strap/chain/rope that is being used to pull with. One never knows where that leaning tree is going to decided to go and I would not want to be in a truck or on a tractor and be pulled into Godknowswhat when that sucker takes off.

    Just my two cents worth....
  13. bayshorecs

    bayshorecs New Member

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    Good point on the quick release and having a tree pull YOU where it wants to go after it falls. I guess even a 5 ton tractor would get man handled by the 10-15 ton tree going down where it wants. I never really thought about that as they have always pulled straight out for me in the past. Realize something new everyday...

    I guess the moral of the story is, try not to take a tree that is going to lean onto another tree without clearing the path. If it is already leaning, spend some time thinking about what to do before starting up the saw. A 15 ton baseball bat swinging at you will certainly send you into left field and ruin your day.

    The risks we take to save a few hundred bucks on heating with wood...Maybe I'm not that smart after all!
  14. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    You pull from the bottom of the tree the only place for the tre to fall is stright down.(in less your working on a cliff)
  15. dj2cohen

    dj2cohen New Member

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    bayshorecs,

    I've never had one go wacky on me either but I am a paranoid person. I am still looking for a good quick release mechanism that I do not have to take a second mortgage to afford. I will find one eventually.
  16. bayshorecs

    bayshorecs New Member

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    Not always. The top could slide down the trunk of the one it is leaning against and pivot to a side pulling you with it. Especially if the one it is leaning against doesn't have a straight trunk.
  17. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    the only problem with that i see is your already strap to the heavy end everything has to follow that wheater there is limbs other trees or what ever there is. the tree will stay with the trunk or snap off witch ever have a long enough strap to keep you away from it. the strap will break before it moves your truck! I have snap my strap a few times
  18. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    If you have the pulling power, you're likely set. One trick is to wrap the chain or choker around the tree in such a way that it rotates the tree and it will clear the stump and come out of the other tree easier. Old skidder/beachcombers trick.
  19. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    chains are not a good idea when they break it becomes very dangerous!
  20. bayshorecs

    bayshorecs New Member

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    Most "farmer types" around here use cables or chains when pulling things. Not too likely that a chain will snap (your are right if it does, LOOK OUT!). Understanding (or trying to understand) the forces and leverage being applied when pulling on the tree needs to take place first before cutting. You will be on borrowed time if you just cut and see what it does. That mule loggers show shocked me into thinking about how fast and far those trees can move. Of course we all *know* the are dangerous and can move in wierd directions, but seeing that was a real eye opener. That tree swung about 120* degrees in a 100' radius in about 1-2 seconds. If you were standing in the way, there is nothing you could do.


    Either way, just be careful! We are all saying the same thing.
  21. Malatesta

    Malatesta New Member

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    Well cutting down trees is one of the most dangerous professions in the world . Like i said if your not Greatly expirienced in felling or removals.
    Just hire a professional tree service , one thats insured and let them drop the trees togehter.

    The tree thats a leaner is gonna fall reguardless of how you pull it from the bottom,when you release that energy it could kick back,spin or roll.
    I say have a pro drop them both.

    They may even want to climb the tree its leaning against,bull rope the leaner at the top ? and pull it away to a safe target area.

    Its not dumb to drop 2 trees at one time, professional loggers do it all the time. Thats why Tree work is one of most dangerous jobs in society.
    The camera man had no business being anywhere close to that worker.
  22. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    I can tell you there isnt any famers around here that snach a tree a car out of the ditch ect. because when that chain breaks and there is someone aroud it is like a cannon shot people have been kill even with through a wind sheild.Most people around here, are or was a farmer at on point unless you live in a bigger city.Chains are use for dragging not snaching
  23. Malatesta

    Malatesta New Member

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    Not to mention most farmers dont have teeth cause of this LOL its put some teeth out :lol:
  24. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    lol
  25. dj2cohen

    dj2cohen New Member

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    That is exactly our point. The camera man was nowhere close to that worker. The camera man was about 20' behind the butt end of the leaning tree. No one had any idea that the thing would swing around like it did.
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