Tree Logging is easy....right?
Sure!!! Tree logging is easy if you know what you're doing. Otherwise cutting down trees is one of the most dangerous tasks on the planet. If you think otherwise, search youtube for some videos of tree work gone wrong. You'll find all sorts of idiots dropping trees on vehicles, houses, and themselves.
Now let me make it clear that I don't think anyone should start felling trees without proper supervision and instruction. But if you are going to try it on your own anyway, follow these simple rules to be as safe and efficient as possible.
Let me also make clear that tree felling has many complicated techniques and we are only covering one simplistic way to do it here.
Cutting Down Trees - Some Keep It Simple Tips
Below I have profiled four different steps to felling a tree. Keep in mind that the following steps are meant for healthy trees that do not have any rot. When dealing with a dead tree or a tree in decline, rot can affect how the tree will react. Trees of that nature should only be dealt with by trained professionals.
Evaluate the lean of the tree
Gravity will always rear its ugly head when you are tree logging. If you are inexperienced, only pick trees that have no lean or a lean in the direction that you want the tree to fall.
Plan an escape route while scoping out the lean of the tree. Your escape route should be at a 45 degree angle from the hinge going away from where the tree is falling. You need to get to safety in a hurry if something goes wrong.
Cut your notch
Cutting your notch is important because it will determine the direction that the tree will fall. A notch is the wedge you cut in the front of the tree. You can cut it several different ways, but we won't get into too much detail here. I'm just trying to give you the basics.
The most important thing is that you cut it facing the direction that you want to tree to fall. It should be about 1/3 of the diameter of the tree. Make sure that you don't cut past the notch, there should be no wood that is cut past where you removed the notch.
Please note, cutting trees less than 6 inches in diameter generally doesn't require using a notch. A simple back cut will suffice.
Making your Back Cut
The back cut comes from the opposite side of the tree and will create the hinge which will control the tree as it falls down. The back cut should be at the same height as your notch, give or take an inch in either direction. Preferably, if you are inexperienced at cutting trees, putting your back cut an inch or two above your notch isn't a bad idea. This will help prevent the tree from kicking back towards you as it falls.
Whatever you do, don't cut all the way through to your notch! The hinge is where you get your control and it is created by stopping your back cut before you get to your notch.
Generally speaking, you want to leave at least 10% of the diameter of the tree as your hinge. But honestly, it will vary with the health and species of the tree. The best advice is to make your back cut and slowly test whether the tree is ready to fall over. You can always cut more wood, you can't undo what has already been cut.
Once the tree has started falling, stay out of the way! Trees have a tendency to spring up at you when cutting on uneven ground. They can also get hung up on other trees and swing sideways. Until you have learned how a tree will react, it's best to follow your escape route once the tree starts falling. Also, once the tree starts falling-STOP cutting the hinge. Remember, it is what controls the tree as it falls.
Hopefully these tips will help keep you safe when tree logging. Remember, you should always get proper training and supervision when you first start cutting down trees. It's a dangerous task and shouldn't be taken lightly. Be safe and good luck!
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