One less big White Pine

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Minister of Fire
Hearth Supporter
Jul 11, 2008
Northern NH
Clint Eastwood always had notable quotes in his Dirty Harry Movies, In Magnum Force the quote was "A mans got to know his limitations." I had a big solo White pine sticking 40 feet above a hardwood canopy that was shading out an area and since it was sticking out above the other trees a candidate for high winds blowing it over. Its also in very rocky soil and one never knows what sort of root structure it may have. It was also about 60 feet away from a powerline with three fiber optic cable trunks lines for my region along with telephone. It was a 116 feet high and 53" at the base, leaning 6 degrees downhill towards the powerlines. The first 50 feet didnt have a lot of branches but from then on it had large branches on the downslope side, some of them were probably 10 to 12" diameter sticking out 40 feet.

That is nothing I would want to touch and even finding someone to do it in my area took some luck. I got a guy who used to do it full time but now works for the government and does it on the side. He actually had to buy a bit more gear to climb this tree as pines this big are getting rarer in my area. It went pretty quick, he worked his way up the trunk clearing any stubs until he got to some large branches then started cutting them off with a top handle chainsaw. It is just woods around the tree so need to rig the branches down. When the big ones hit the ground there was quite a thump and usually the branches broke up. It actually went pretty quick. He had someone advising him on the ground and once he got about 70 feet up, they decided it was time to top it with the branches on. The climber was roped in pretty well so he just cut a edge and back cut it. It came down with quite a crash and partially self destructed.

Once the top was down he tied a rope to the top and then headed down. His ground guy did the cut with a big saw with far shorter bar than I thought he would have used. They had a bit of a fight with getting the wedge loose and then went and did the back cut. It started moving and they got out of the way and down it came with a thump followed by two cracks. The ground was not even and the 70 feet cracked in two places. The wood was good but my guess is there was some defect in the grain. The upper 30 feet is loaded with big knots so I wasnt that upset with the upper break but the bottom break was in a straight wood but I still have 30 feet of log and can probably slave a few cants off the broken section. It took them a little over 2 hours start to finish but they earned their pay as they dropped it 90 degrees from the lean.

I have friend with a sawmill that can take at most 28" so I am going to have to split the logs lengthwise with a saw and then rig them out. I estimate one 10 foot length of trunk is 5600 pounds so just handling it will be a challenge. I need to get it processed or the bark stripped in the next few months before the borers move in. I asked them to leave the area around the yellow birch with the ribbon free but it looks like they used it for a target.

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Courage is a rare commodity these days. The men who climb trees with chain saws have got some guts!
Watching him work, its very deliberate as he climbs and in this case he had someone skilled on the ground that he was discussing it with and a couple of helpers who are family members. Still my guess was the top of the stem moved back and forth a foot or so when he dropped the top. I think a lot of contractors would have used a crane and bucket truck.

Definitely a young man's game and I have no idea how someone would get formal training. My guess is the crew are all independent so no worries about workman's comp which must be prohibitive. I think there were two deaths in NH in the last few weeks of tree workers.
I’ve only dropped 1 white pine by myself. There was nothing around it on the ground and I had plenty of room to get away if something went wrong. It was easily the biggest tree I’ve dropped. It absolutely swallowed my bar.

We paid a crew to take down a bunch of white pines. They used a crane for a lot of it as there were a bunch of buildings below.
Starting to whittle it down. This was the "small one" about 38" across, the big one (46") is in foreground to the right. We did hit an ants nest in the big one but still got two 2" thick clear slabs 38" to 42" wide before we hit the nest. The majority of the wood was cut into 8" slabs and will be brought to a portable sawmill and flipped up vertically to be sawn into lots of boards.


One less big White Pine
Well the two biggest logs are now a pile of boards. One pile is about 7/8th pine with some poplar and other odd wood on top to weigh it down, the other with the pallets on top is all pine. Not included are two large slabs about 46" wide and 2" thick. My friend did persuade me to cut a few big boards in the second stack. The slanted top covers are to keep the rain and snow off, Its just lightweight corrugated PVC but I have raked a couple of feet of snow. The pine is 10' 6" long

I still have two 38" diameter half rounds and 30" diameter log but we are taking a break. They are higher up in the tree and therefore will have more knots. Probably 95% of the boards are clear with tight grain and knots but there was some ant damaged wood that was worth stacking. There is also a lot of junk logs that are going to rot in place.

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One less big White Pine One less big White Pine
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White pine is great for log cabins as long as the bark is stripped. There is a critter called the White Pine Sawyer that moves in quick once a pine is on the ground in non freezing weather. Within a couple of days of the pine being on the ground they were hanging around. They lay their eggs in the bark of pines and then after the eggs hatch, the grubs start tunneling through the bark into the sap wood. On a quiet day a person can hear them munching on a log. The tunnels are about 1/8 to 1/4" of inch in diameter and let in moisture and bacteria that starts the rotting process. I think they slow down once they hit the hearth wood where the sap flow was not active in the tree. They do not appear to bother live pines, I think the pines have evolved a way of keeping them out but once the tree is cut they move right in. Bears like the grubs and will tear the bark off dead pines to get to them. They are about 1/4" round and 1/2 to 3/4" long and bears and birds love them. I ended up with the slabs after cutting the two upper logs and found all sorts of the grubs had come to the surface after a cold night.

I stripped the bark off the two largest logs with a spud but didnt have the time to do the two smaller diameter upper logs. I didnt find any signs of borer holes on the stripped logs but when I processed the two upper ones, I had random holes right through to the bottom of the sapwood. I also could see piles of very rough sawdust/splintered wood randomly located on the bark.

BTW the White Pine Sawyer looks somewhat similar to Asian Long Horned beetle (a very nasty invasive that kills hardwoods) the various agencies that chase down the invasives are always getting calls about White Pine Sawyers. They are quite large and mean looking pine sawyer is,on the ALB is black.
Yeah, I’ve seen those. I thought it was an ALB too! But I checked with another who might know the difference and she figured it out.
Yes the bark has to go. I use a draw knife.