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Inexperienced Cutter Needs Advice

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by firecracker_77, Oct 11, 2012.

  1. firecracker_77

    firecracker_77 Minister of Fire

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    So, I'm really inexperienced at bucking logs. I have 2 sawhorses that I laid the wood on and cut relatively short pieces when possible as I'm splitting by hand and long splits drain my energy. I prefer to split on each whack with the axe. I also believe, whether factual or a figment of my imagination, that small splits season quicker given the larger exposed surface area.

    Anyhow, as I'm getting near the end of the cut, the bar becomes pinched and as the wood falls away, it makes contact with the chain and sends out sparks and in one case, the chain falls off and fortunately didn't harm me. That was due to me cutting too long on a new chain without checking tension. Won't happen again...I'm very leery of saws in general. I picture my leg as a piece of tender flesh and that chain ripping through like a hot knife on butter. Fear is a good thing when dealing with deadly tools.

    So, do I need to roll the wood near the end of the cut to avoid this? The wood is falling inwards towards the bar. One solution would be to get rid of the saw horses or cut to the outside of either the left or right support. I was cutting between. Problem is, some of my logs aren't long enough to avoid this unless I ditch the sawhorse and support them off the ground in some other way.

    I saw a handy system that mounts the saw towards the outside and you pivot the saw down into the wood. This supports the wood underneath and doesn't pinch during the cut. Instead, gravity drops the unsupported cut piece. That cost $179, and I didn't want to spend any more money today. I have a second stove to install yet this winter and that's going to be about $2k likely for materials and labor.

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  2. mtneer

    mtneer Member

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    I'm still new myself, and that fear you describe is still somewhat fresh in my mind. You'll gain confidence as you use the saw. It will become just another tool, but never lose a healthy respect for the saw and let safety slip.

    I would not bother buying any fancy cutting aids unless you have a physical issue. I used a sawhorse a few times when I first tried my saw. I made the mistake of buying a timberjack. I only used it a handful of times since they don't hold much weight and need level ground. For log bucking, I lay a log on level ground and I mark off my split lengths with a tape measure and hand saw along the entire length of the log. Then I cut into my marks about 2/3 of the way through. Flip the log over and repeat.It's worked for me.
  3. Gark

    Gark Minister of Fire

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    Yup - what mtneer said. Leave the log on the ground. Cut 2/3 through, roll log over and finish cut(s). Less heavy lifting.
  4. JP11

    JP11 Minister of Fire

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    First off..

    Are you wearing kevlar chaps?
    A proper helmet with face, and ear protection?

    I've had pretty good luck leaving a few pieces of junk logs on the ground, and putting my logs on top of them perpendicular. I can cut a PILE of logs and just roll the rounds off the pile as I go. Then your rounds are supported as they are cut. Sure, you will cut some gouges in the lower ones, but who cares?

    Doing this... the lowest logs that are against the "sleepers" can fall and hit the ground, but if you cut up from the bottom on the very last row, you can keep your chain from the dirt.

    Chainsaws are NASTY tools. They deserve a ton of respect. Treat it like you would treat a loaded gun. Watch some safety videos online.

    JP
    AJS56 and Blue2ndaries like this.
  5. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    If you are cutting between the supports, finish the cut from the bottom. Whenever you cut with a chainsaw you have to be aware which direction the log will bend as the cut nears completion. This holds true when cutting logs or when cutting standing trees or branches. Another option is to place a smaller pole in the crotch of the sawhorse to support the log. You'll want to pay attention so you don't cut through the pole every time, but assuming the pole is just another piece of firewood, then it isn't too big a deal if you cut thorugh it. It is better than cutting through a log into the dirt and dulling your chain.

    As others have said, another option is cutting on the ground, or even better cutting a pile of logs so the log you're working on is supported by other logs. Don't try to cut the whole way through the log from the top down - you will hit the dirt more often than not. I use a sawbuck sometimes because it is nice to cut a few feet above ground level.
    amateur cutter, Thistle and ScotO like this.
  6. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    The other guys pretty much hit the nail on the head. Biggest thing is to look at the log you're cutting to see where the leverage points are. If the log is supported at both ends, its gonna pinch your bar when you try to cut through it. So in situations where you gotta cut like that (or when the log is laying on the ground), only cut down throuht the log 2/3rds or so, roll the log over and finish the cut. When cutting on a stack of logs (such as when they are delivered in a grapple truck) watch cutting multiple logs because if the nose of the bar touches a log that you cannot see, you could have major kickback issue.
  7. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    You say you're cutting short lengths, which is fine, but I'd try to cut relatively uniform short lengths. I don't necessarily try to cut the longest piece my stove will take, but I try to cut most of the pieces the same length, which makes loading the stove and stacking the wood a little easier. For a long time I used the bar on my "16 inch" chainsaw to measure the length of each piece. An embarrasingly long time after I started that I measured the bar and found it is about 14 1/2 inches long, so I have a ton of wood shorter than my stove will allow. I still cut wood the same length because I am used to it. When I load the stove I push the 14 inch splits ot one side and load the remaining space with short lengths, loaded front to back (north/south as they say on this forum)
  8. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    You should not be using saw horse's in the first place. Seems they must be smaller as your getting them on the horse.;) saw bbbbbbbbb.jpg
    albert1029 and hilbiliarkiboi like this.
  9. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Add additional center supports to your horse (if you choose to stick with that method). Additional supports will not allow the log to drop and pinch.

    And by all means - please wear your PPE (personal protection equip.). At a minimum I would suggest a pair of chainsaw chaps. I won't fire up the saw without them in place.
    JP11 likes this.
  10. firecracker_77

    firecracker_77 Minister of Fire

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    I have eyeware and gloves.

    At the dealer, I can pick up chaps for $89. I told the guy yesterday, I plan on getting those. $89 is way cheaper than $100,000 medical bill.

    I like the idea of bucking on the ground and rolling the logs. For the little ones up in the air, I can cut 2/3rd and then come from the bottom.

    I cut only near the dogs. I stay away from the tip of the saw as that kickback is something I never want to experience. I need a saw buck like that sweet one pictured above.

    I like the idea of cutting the wood in a pile but I'm a little uneasy given that logs can roll and I want my feet flat on the ground. I'll stick with the logs on the ground and roll them at 2/3rd through. That seems the safest bet for now.
    ScotO likes this.
  11. golfandwoodnut

    golfandwoodnut Minister of Fire

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    As you gain experience you can keep an eye on the log. I know when a log is suspended like that, or even on the ground when it is in the air, that it will want to pinch the bar as it reaches the end. I like to find a log up in the air, as it makes for easy cutting (if you are careful). I watch for the log getting ready to move, remove the bar and finish from the bottom (and there is very little fear of kickback from the bottom as the log protects you). Whe rolling the log, I will cut several pieces to length 3/4's of the way through then roll the log and finish them all at once. Dennis loves the cant hook for rolling the logs, I have not bought one yet but could see the benefit. Normally I will get the log to a reasonable size and just push it over when needed. I did build a sawhorse for small branches that I can cut straight down and do several at the same time without fear (it is an H style). I do not have a picture handy but will to try to find a link.
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/my-h-style-sawbuck-holds-alot-of-wood.61191/
  12. new_wood

    new_wood Member

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    It can be a little unsettling at first but over time you will feel more comfortable about it......and if possible always let someone know that you are cutting wood or cut and split with a buddy.
  13. mudbug250

    mudbug250 Burning Hunk

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    I agree with what everyone above has said. One thing that has helped me is a couple of plastic felling wedges. When a log it too big to roll, I cut halfway or 2/3 through the log then just pop a wedge in the cut. As I get close to the ground, I let off the saw and cut in short burst until I cut completely through, so I can minimize the chain in the dirt. My next purchase will be a pry bar so I can roll those big logs.
  14. PapaDave

    PapaDave Minister of Fire

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    I hate the bending over to cut on the ground, but also don't like the idea of having to lift 8' logs onto a sawbuck.......no matter how small they are.......I could spend that time and energy cutting.
    The rounds fall back on the ground where I have to pick them back up. Why do it twice.
    Leave 'em on the ground and cut part way through, then roll and finish cut works well for me.
    AJS56, Backwoods Savage and keninmich like this.
  15. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    +1
  16. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Here's a couple of safety tips, in addition to wearing a hardhat with face screen or glasses, steel-toed or kevlar-lined (even better) boots, and kevlar chaps or safety pants:

    * Park your pickup headed out of the woodlot and leave the keys in it.
    * If your work area is not visible from the road, use surveyor tape to flag out the entrance
    * Always carry a cell phone on your person (you can't call 911 if you're pinned under a tree and the phone is in the truck).
    * When the tree begins to fall, back or walk quickly away from the falling tree in a diagonal direction
    * Never walk away from a tree that won't fall--either because it's hung up or it sets back on your saw
    * Make sure your truck is at least two tree lengths away from any tree you're falling
    * If working with someone else, know where each other is working at all times.

    There's a lot more, but these seven items are a good start.
    AJS56, Tramontana, keninmich and 10 others like this.
  17. firecracker_77

    firecracker_77 Minister of Fire

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    How long would it take you to use 1.8 gallons of 2 stroke mixed gas? I made the mistake of buying a little too much last night. Looks like my Toro snow blower will be getting some Stihl synthetic 2 stroke gas mix this winter. I want it all used up within 6 months.
  18. firecracker_77

    firecracker_77 Minister of Fire

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    That's great advice. Thanks...for future reference.

    Some of this can be applied if you're out bucking logs even. The cell phone...the safety gear...the fact that others will check up on you if they don't hear from you. Having your emergeny plan in case you are injured.
    hilbiliarkiboi likes this.
  19. FireBones

    FireBones Member

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    Keep the safety tips coming guys.... I am a brand new cutter also, and this is gold! What strategy do you guys use to cut an entire tree freshly felled into the more reasonable size logs?
  20. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    Grab a big saw Eyes ears leg
    and head feet protection and a wedge. This was was a little to heavy for sawbuck.

    zz.jpg
  21. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I start at the stump and start cutting 24-inch blocks until the branches are too small to bother with. Oftentimes, the top part of the tree will hold the trunk up off the ground, so so you can cut the blocks without worrying about running the bar into the ground. When it's laying flat on the ground, sometimes you have to mark off blocks until you find a good place to make the cut, then go back and cut the previous ones by partially cutting then rolling, etc.
  22. FireBones

    FireBones Member

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    In the event that the tree does indeed fall back and wedge the saw I assume a wedge and slegde will sufice to free it up? If the tree did indeed fall back when closing in on the hinge is it safe to say its not going to fall in the direction it was intended to?
  23. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    First and foremost - put those wedges to work BEFORE you get pinched up. Also, they are called felling wedges for a reason - they can assist in directing where the tree is gonna drop and give a little push in the right direction.
  24. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    You should always set a wedge in the groove when you get, say, 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through the cut. Basically, do it when there's enough room to get the wedge in without hitting it with the saw. That way, it won't set back on your saw. If you don't use a wedge and it does set back on your saw, there's usually no way to get a wedge in. And even if you could, it's probably not going to do much to help you. So, use a wedge even if you don't think you'll need one, because you'll sure wish you did if you do.

    Set-back trees are pretty dangerous. The best way to deal with one of those is to get another saw and make another felling cut above your saw to drop the tree where it wants to go. Yes, this means leaving the scene to find another saw. Don't put yourself in that situation.

    You can do a lot with a wedge, but it's not going to put a big tree where it doesn't want to go. What I do is eyeball the lean of the tree, then figure out the best place to aim it in that general direction. Life is full of compromises. It's usually wise to compromise with something as big as a tree.

    While we're on the topic, if there are smaller trees and saplings growing where you want this tree to fall, cut them down first, because they can become spring poles (bent over saplings under stress) which are very dangerous to work around. You want to create the safest working environment you can.
    AJS56, Tramontana, albert1029 and 2 others like this.
  25. CT-Mike

    CT-Mike Minister of Fire

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    Have to give a +1 to the PPE. I still need to buy a pair of the kevlar boots, will get those before any more cutting. Someone in an early post mentioned marking off the log with a tape. I find it much easier to just cut a small twig to the length I want the rounds (20" in my case). I lay it on the log and get a visual fix, then hold it in my left hand parallel to the top handle and just squeeze. Holds the twig fine, and doesn't impair control of the saw if it is small enough.

    Make the cut, and then lather, rinse, and repeat.

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