Limb wood value

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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
17,631
Philadelphia
I’m always trying different ways to mark out 16” sections. Recently I’ve been using the zip method. Where I have a zip on the left handle of the saw, and it’s cut at 16” from the bar. That seems to work pretty good.

Depending on the tree, I cut from the butt up, or sometimes from the middle and go both directions. Depends on where the tree is, or if I pull it closer to the tractor in sections or not.

When I cut down the tree I usually cut it about 20” from the ground. Then once it’s on the ground I’ll come back and cut off another chunk, leaving a short stump. I hate big stumps in the woods.

There’s a guy I know who’s convinced there are rocks in the stumps close to the ground. So he cuts all his stumps about 2’ off the ground, and then leaves them that way. I’ve been cutting stumps low for over ten years and never hit a rock. And in fact I’ve never seen a rock in a tree.
I've seen a rock in a stump. But I've seen far more ceramic and metal utility wiring fittings 15 feet up, by a ratio of more than 10:1 over rocks in stumps.

The worst is large lag bolts, with no other protruding fitting to see. Had a cut glance one of those earlier this year, which wiped out all the cutters on just one side of my chain.

If in the woods, I sometimes leave the stump. If in the yard or hedgerow, I always cut it flush, after I'm done with the rest.
 

DonTee

Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
663
Upstate NY
Maybe I’m just lucky, but I’ve never hit metal or rock from a tree on my property. And the guy who sawed up all my lumber 10 years ago didn’t hit any either.

The only piece of metal I’ve found is a cut off piece of cable, probably left by loggers many years ago. But it was just on the ground.

I’ve definitely hit metal when cutting up “yard trees” from around other houses. The trees around my dads house seem to have quite a bit of metal in them.
 

Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,815
Fairbanks, Alaska
Always interesting hearing the processes of others
Yup, it is.

When I was cutting in the state forests I think I used my hookaroon mostly for banging on mature birch trees listening for center rot. Up here over 10" or so DBH birch is going to have some center rot, the question is how much.

Last time I was up on the rules we had to leave stumps 3" or less in height. I would often make my felling cut 19" off the ground and take the fattest round off the stump once the tree was down. No power equipment allowed harvesting timber in state forests, though I have never seen anyone ticketed hauling rounds back to the truck in a sled pulled by a snow machine.

Birch crowns are going to split and splinter when the tree is felled, with the log up to the first fork pretty well on the ground. Always undulating ground everywhere I cut. I would usually get two or three trees dropped on a Saturday morning and then call my wife to let her know the dangerous part was over and the real work was beginning. Maybe sharpen, have a gatorade, pee, more bug spray.

I chose a 32" hookaroon because I want my splits at 16 inches. Like +/- a quarter inch. People would rather buy wood from me than sell wood to me and I am OK with that. I carry yellow, orange and blue sidewalk chalk in my forestry tool box and haven't needed to add a fourth color. With a full circumference mark on my hookaroon, I would just go bottom to first fork making chalk marks maybe half inch wide by one inch long up into the fork. I hate leaving a wide cookie off the butt end of a log. It is wasteful and preventable.

Then harvest what limb wood I could get safely out of the top, and then deal with rip or noodle cuts in the fork area, and then birch logs it just depends on the ground. I would say a typical birch log for me was 30-40 feet long and I could usually cut it into three of four pieces without pinching my bar. Once that was done just roll the short pieces to see the chalk marks, cut most of the way through, roll, finish the cuts bottom up, presto. 16" rounds ready to hand carry to the truck.
 

Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,815
Fairbanks, Alaska
I typically would work a healthy spruce tree butt to tip. The branches of my local spruce tend to bend instead of break when the tree is felled, holding the log up at a convenient cutting height, nature's own sawbuck.

For spruce I would need all of my hookaroon, chalk and saw. First mark up the butt end up to the first branch pointing at the ground that is helping to hold the log up, sink the hookaroon a little ways up from there, and take the weight off the butt end 16 inches at a time on the chalk marks.

Along the way on the branches I would unzip the bark while the branch was still on the tree, cut off the floppy bit and eyeball 16" on the limb wood. You are very likely to find some yellow, orange or blue sidewalk chalk on the ground in the areas where I used to cut spruce, because I haven't found a dependable way to keep up with chalk when I got a saw in my hands.

When I would get to the first branch buried in the ground I would make chalk marks up past that limb. Then cut off a 16" round that lets the remaining log/tree rise up in the air and the freshly cut round with the branch on it fall to the ground. It can be a little exciting when the two pieces separate, but with one rising and the other falling I never had a bar get bound up.

If you are sinking your hookaroon good it shouldn't fall out when the remainder of the tree rises up in the air. Whether or not to harvest limb wood off the round you just cut just depends on how floppy and how fat the branch is.

Eventually with spruce I would end up with a thing too small to be a Christmas tree that was flopping around on the ground to much to take anymore off it with a chainsaw and I would call that good.
 

Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,815
Fairbanks, Alaska
If I am ever called to look at a tree 40" diameter DBH I will ask Ashful to come harvest the log and I will take the top. Hopefully he will leave a few hundred pounds of log so the top isn't all dancing around while I am trying to cut pieces off it.
 

DonTee

Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
663
Upstate NY
Man I’d love to get my rounds within +/- 1/4” of 16”. It’s nice looking at a stack of wood that’s all the same size.

@Poindexter
So do you have a mark halfway on your hookaroon? I’m always looking for more accurate ways to easily mark the log. I’ve been using a zip tie on the saw, but it’s probably closer to +/- 1”.

I’ve known guys that have the wheel with the spray paint marker and other fancy crap. That’s too much for me.

Speaking of hookaroons, I need to buy a new one. I had a cheap one but loaned it to a friend and never got it back. I’ve been thinking about getting a Fiskars this time.
 

DonTee

Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
663
Upstate NY
And yeah a 3” stump or less is what I’m talking about. I hate tall stumps.

My neighbors down the road cut down half a dozen trees in their yard and left 18” stumps. I just wonder how it doesn’t drive them crazy. I know not everyone can afford to get the stumps ground down, but you could take off quite a bit more with just a chainsaw.

But back to the woods. I like walking through the woods and not being able to tell where I’ve been cutting trees.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
17,631
Philadelphia
If I am ever called to look at a tree 40" diameter DBH I will ask Ashful to come harvest the log and I will take the top. Hopefully he will leave a few hundred pounds of log so the top isn't all dancing around while I am trying to cut pieces off it.
haha... I was getting into a ton of big stuff, for several years, there. My circumstances have changed, and I haven't been cutting on the property where I was getting most of that, now I seem to be too busy with neighbor's EAB ash trees mostly running 12" to 24".

As fun as some of that big stuff was at the time, I guess I can't complain, now. Really big trees make big heavy rounds, each of which become less amusing with time and age. They're definitely slower to process, especially the ones you have to noodle into slabs before splitting.
 

Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,815
Fairbanks, Alaska
Man I’d love to get my rounds within +/- 1/4” of 16”. It’s nice looking at a stack of wood that’s all the same size.

@Poindexter
So do you have a mark halfway on your hookaroon?

I’ve been thinking about getting a Fiskars this time.
Kinda sorta. I have upped my game at home in the wood shop and have started making furniture. With good light and climate control etc etc I am working to the 1/16 of an inch with hand tools.

For my wood handled hookaroon I tried a few things but ended up carving a skinny little ditch all the way around the handle, and then rubbed dirt into to bare wood to make a line. I left that one in the woods several years ago. With my current Aluminum handled one I ended up making a thin V notch with a triangular file all the way around and then filled that in with a sharpie.

Next up is to sharpen the saw chain evenly. As a right handed individual, when I started sharpening my own chains my cuts tended to walk to the left as they dropped through the log. Once that slant gets bad enough the round will pop out of the splitter intact, and I had to go after those with a maul and I got my sharpening under control with some motivation.

Next step is to mark the log up consistently. There is a bunch of ways you could do it. The main thing is to pick a system and stick with it consistently for consistent results. What I do is put one end of the hookaroon flush with the end of the log. Then make a chalk mark 16" up ON CENTER with the mark in the handle, then at the other end put the chalk mark so that the end of the hook is ON CENTER to the chalk mark. Then I use my evenly sharpened saw and drop through the chalk mark ON CENTER. I like to see an even amount of chalk on both sides of the bar when I start the cut. If you got enough log to make more than two marks, when I jump the hook up I put the butt end of the hook on center in the last chalk mark and make the next two marks.

A fella could always leave the chalk on the butt end of the round getting cut, or on the top end of each round getting cut. I found myself working both sides of pretty much every log I felled, so I just cut the middle out of every chalk mark and it doesn't matter which side of the log I am standing on.

I have never seen a Fiskars hookaroon in person, but I am ecstatic with all my Fiskars tools. I bought three of the chopping axes when I took up axe throwing and they are awesome for tossing around as they are very uniform to each other. I have the camp hatchet and like it. I have one of the mauls, X27 I think, best maul I have ever owned. Fiskars makes really good scissors too, in my experience. When I realized I had left my wood handled hook in the forest I went looking for a Fiskars and didn't see one for sale.

If the Fiskars hook has the same black composite handle as my other striking tools I would probably carve in three parallel lines full circumference, one exact and one each at plus and minus one sixteenth. Maybe a drywall knife. If they don't show up good enough you could maybe paint with white paint and wipe off the handle with a nap free rag while the paint is still wet, leaving white paint behind in your carved lines.

I see marking up a log as a chance to take off my helmet and gloves and vamgreaves (aka vambraces) and take a break between felling and bucking. Remember to drink enough water that you have to pee every time you stop for fuel. If you are not sure the cut you are about to make is safe, it probably isn't.

Also, there are plenty of trees up here with some bow in the trunk. This is where it is handy to own a splitter and know its capabilities for sloped cuts on the ends of the rounds. When I see a heavily bowed spruce that got hit by lightning and has gobs and gobs of sap that oozed out of the lightning wounds, I am taking it. I want that sap in my woodpile for January. For those I will usually start in the middle of the bow and take rounds my splitter can handle in the 14-18 inch range.
 

DonTee

Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
663
Upstate NY
I don’t usually build furniture, but when I’ve built kitchen cabinets in the past the goal was 1/16” or less. From what I’ve been told it’s a 1/8” or less for general carpentry, and a 1/16” or less for furniture or cabinets. So I’d be very happy with a 1/4” or less for firewood.

One of the reasons I want to get some ash sawn up is for face frames for my kitchen cabinets. That and flooring. Right now the house has temporary lower cabinets, and no uppers yet. And the sub floor are 6” wide larch boards.

I was splitting some ash last night. Smaller chunks are my favorite. The rounds I was splitting were 8-12”. I dislike splitting anything bigger than 24”. It’s too heavy and awkward to easily move around. And my splitter is horizontal only. Yes sometimes I’ll cut the round into quarters with the chainsaw before splitting.

Looking around online the only Fiskars hookaroon I see is 28”. They want 53$ for it on Amazon. It would be nice to find a 32” hookaroon.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
17,631
Philadelphia
Man I’d love to get my rounds within +/- 1/4” of 16”. It’s nice looking at a stack of wood that’s all the same size.
I don't have a hookaroon, and my method may ignore some of the warnings in my Stihl manual, but it's fast and accurate. I have a stick that's a handy size for holding in one hand, and the length of my desired splits, presently 3/4" x 1" x 18". I wrap the stick in masking tape and spray paint it blaze orange, so I can never lose it. This stick will last 40-50 cords, before it's length calibration has drifted enough that I make a new one.

I cut my logs at 15 feet, for bringing home. When splitting, I position a log on the ground, grab that stick in my left hand and my top-handle saw in the right. I walk down the log making a small score mark every stick length. On perfectly straight logs, this does the job, and next I grab a bigger saw to do the bucking.

On crooked logs, sometimes 15 feet doesn't come out to perfect multiples of 18". In that case, I'll often mark the log a second time from the opposite end, such that there are two score marks an inch or three apart. The bucking takes place between those two scores, proportional to how far I am from the end of the log (i.e. first 10%, second at 20%... last at 90%), so that I'm not left with a 3" cookie when it's all done. Logs that came out short (rare) get the same process, to avoid a single 15" round at the end.
 

DonTee

Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
663
Upstate NY
It’s absolutely OCD, but as long as you admit you have a problem it’s ok. Right? :)

I can eyeball the length and usually get it to within an inch of 16”. So any marking at all brings you closer to OCD. So if you’re almost there anyways, might as well make it the best you can.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,281
Long Island NY
Lol, any engineer, any crafts man, anyone using a measuring tape has OCD, then.

In any case, OCD in measuring involves being proud of getting it right. At least for me.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
7,517
NE Ohio
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
17,631
Philadelphia
I'm often accused of OCD, but only when it matters, don't put me in Poindexter's camp. ;lol I'm not cutting big diameter stuff square enough to hold ±0.250" on each split coming from the round. I'd guess my 3-sigma is ±1 inch.
 

Simonkenton

Minister of Fire
Feb 27, 2014
2,232
Marshall NC
I am precise when I cut dovetail notches to build log cabins. I go to 1/16 inch.
My stove likes 16 inch firewood, but 17 inch burns pretty good. Fifteen inch is also OK with me.

IMG_0734.JPG
 

DonTee

Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
663
Upstate NY
I also don’t mind being called OCD. I don’t take it as an insult or anything.

Last winter my VC Encore could only be loaded E/W, and I had to careful not to cut the wood too long for it.
This winter I’ll be using a BK Princess, so I’ll have more loading options.

My stove before the Encore was a Timberline that would hold almost 2’ long pieces. Some of the wood I had cut for that stove wouldn’t fit in the Encore and had to be trimmed down.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,281
Long Island NY
Friendly advice: I'd put on proper safety glasses, given the often odd cutting angles when cutting notches.
 

DonTee

Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
663
Upstate NY
+1
I’ve gotten a corneal abrasion from a wood chip while sawing. I usually just wear my logging helmet any time I run the saw now.
 

Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,815
Fairbanks, Alaska
I am not going to deny OCD, but there is another piece of the puzzle I kinda hinted at a couple times already.

Felling trees gives me quite an adrenalin buzz. There is something about dropping a thousand pounds of wood out of the sky, and not having any control over it once it starts to fall.

But I don't do my best work while high on adrenalin. Setting down the saw to mark up the log gives me time to burn off the adrenalin and get back to my baseline draught horse personality of relaxed competence. I am not going to say bucking logs is safe, there is a chainsaw involved; but compared to felling, bucking is a thing I can do and do the rest of the morning until I start getting hungry. Once I have my dropped logs marked up and the birds have come back close enough for me to hear them in the bushes it is time to fire the saw back up.
 
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