A Discussion on The Fundamentals of Tree Felling

Tony

Well-Known Member
As promised, let us get this started.

For clarity, this is a discussion about the FUNDAMENTALS and BASIC PRINCIPLES of tree felling. If you are looking for the super secret peanut butter and jelly cut, or the wis bang super duper or want to discuss that, start another thread.

I was trained by my family as a teenager in a very "family tree business way" with a very tradition approach. 45º face cut, slightly stepped back cut, let 'er rip. There is a history and purpose for that cut. I am not here to knock it or knock any technique, just look at how and why they do what they do.

In my last 25+ years as a production arborist, student of the rope and saw, author, trainer and presenter I have come to realize that when it comes to tree felling there are many, many ,many applications, or ways to accomplish the task. However, the core concept is always the same. When a sawyer understands the core concept, knows how to apply the principles, the variations, the applications as I like to call them, can be judged valid or not. If the application or variation meets the concept then it is more likely to be sound. If it it does not, then...

There is also the element of safety. We are not discussing photography concepts here. Arborists, loggers and homeowners DIE cutting trees. The consequences are real and impactful. As such, I implore all who choose to take part to keep this in mind.

While it is certainly possible to have a long career felling trees using poor technique, no safety protocol or respect for the forces at play, I find it unlikely. Furthermore, if you just have to fall back on the "do as I say/write not do" line, please leave that out of the conversation. It is not my purpose to pass judgement on how you work in this thread. Perhaps it's getting older, perhaps even a bit smarter, but while you may "get away" with some shit and been doing so for years, be aware of all those that read, listen or watch us. Will they have the same luck? Will you not be partially responsible by putting out poor info, video, advice? I don't have your answer, but I have mine to those two questions. The genesis of this discussion is my answer.

Now that that has been said, I intend this thread delve into all aspects of tree felling, but we must begin at the beginning with a simple question. What is the basic concept of the process we call tree felling? (hazard assessment, hight and lean judgement, face cut and back cut to make a tree fall in a desired direction in a predictable way)

All that long ass run on question above asks is in as few words as possible (ironic I know!) what are we trying to accomplish with our felling plan?

My answer: Engineer a predictable weak spot.

The ultimate rope hooked to the ultimate equipment pulling a a tree. the rope won't break, the equipment can provide any amount of force necessary. where will a tree fail? at its weakest link. Hazard assessment is a part of this. We need to judge where and how weak that weakest link is. We then use a face cut coupled with a back cut to make an even weaker point in an effort to gain predictability.

So..you have mine. Let's hear your take on the most fundamental concept of tree felling. (forgo all the technical for now. We have time.) What are we trying to accomplish with our felling plan?

Tony
 

rico

Well-Known Member
Let's hear your take on the most fundamental concept of tree felling. (forgo all the technical for now. We have time.) What are we trying to accomplish with our felling plan?

Tony
Any felling plan should start with fundamentally sound mechanics and end with your tree hitting its intended lay. Simple stuff if we let it be.
I know quite a few world class timber fallers that put millions and millions of board feet on the ground every year. It is very very rare for any of them to deviate from the tried and true, classic fundamentals to get their wood on the ground.
 
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evo

Well-Known Member
Make the tree go boom where we want it, in the safest most predictable manner to meet our boom goals. While expending the appropriate amount of energy in the fewest number of steps to meet said goal. Not to mention identifying and controlling as many variables as possible
Aka KISS
 
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RopeShield

Well-Known Member
The most important aspect to felling is Botany and more specifically the study of wood.
Again you can spend all your time observing or making cuts but if you can't explain why it happened or what happened or what the intention was, in the end you are only guessing.
Anybody can weld but not everyone can tell you what the metal is doing, what rod is best for what etc.
The act or as it is being put the fundamentals of felling and the intention of this thread is absurd and is a disservice to anyone who is really intent on learning.
The act of Felling trees is actually pretty boring, most of the time and fairly uncomplicated requiring only basic math and science.
It only gets exciting when you come across trees with serious defecencies, unknown to you species or other variables rarely seen like super saturated wood, frozen wet wood, heavy leans etc.
You need to restart this thread and take it all the way back to 1st yr University botany/wood 101. Elemental really!

That is the best and only place to start imho.

Anyone wood be better off spending a day in the woods; splitting, bending, prying, observing and touching trees. Better even is spend time with some one who knows wood and felling who can share their observations, practical and acedemic knowledge and related experiences.
Sorry Tony and others but this just goes to show what a sham this industry is. Everday workers are put at risk, no mentorship, no elemental study etc
Thread was started because of Kenny and just goes to show how "the kettle calling the pot black" this all is.
Whatever, I'll read this just the same. There is always something to learn.
 
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Serf Life

Active Member
The most important aspect to felling is Botany and more specifically the study of wood.
Again you can spend all your time observing or making cuts but if you can't explain why it happened or what happened or what the intention was, in the end you are only guessing.
Anybody can weld but not everyone can tell you what the metal is doing, what rod is best for what etc.
The act or as it is being put the fundamentals of felling and the intention of this thread is absurd and is a disservice to anyone who is really intent on learning.
The act of Felling trees is actually pretty boring, most of the time and fairly uncomplicated requiring only basic math and science.
It only gets exciting when you come across trees with serious defecencies, unknown to you species or other variables rarely seen like super saturated wood, frozen wet wood, heavy leans etc.
You need to restart this thread and take it all the way back to 1st yr University botany/wood 101. Elemental really!

That is the best and only place to start imho.

Anyone wood be better off spending a day in the woods; splitting, bending, prying, observing and touching trees. Better even is spend time with some one who knows wood and felling who can share their observations, practical and acedemic knowledge and related experiences.
Sorry Tony and others but this just goes to show what a sham this industry is. Everday workers are put at risk, no mentorship, no elemental study etc
Thread was started because of Kenny and just goes to show how "the kettle calling the pot black" this all is.
Whatever, I'll read this just the same. There is always something to learn.
'Da fuck? Had to read that one twice. And I disagree. The guy flunking botany might be the best sawyer in the class. A dude with a phD in physics won't be the best one either. I'm none of the above and not a perfect faller, so looking forward to this thread.
P.S. you're the one posting intentional barberchairs.
 

rico

Well-Known Member
The act of Felling trees is actually pretty boring, most of the time and fairly uncomplicated requiring only basic math and science.
Come on out here and we can fall a big filthy back leaning Fir thats growing on near vertical ground Rope. We can bust out the dually Silvey Jacks, some springboards, and spend a few hours artfully, deliberately, and painfully slowly jacking this motherfucker over. Well get our jacks set first, then load em up, and then well get an under cut in it. If everything looks good we can start back cutting this POS, tickling our hinge a little, watching our gauges so we know whether we got her, or if she's sitting back on us. We might end up doing this for a fucking hour until she finally goes. When it hits the ground well see if your fleet footed enough to haul ass side hill to keep yourself from getting fucking killed. Hows that for boring bro? When were done well go get some brats and beers and tell each other how fucking awesome we are!!!!
 
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Bucknut

Well-Known Member
Come on out here and we can fall a big filthy back leaning Fir thats growing on near vertical ground Rope. We can bust out the dually Silvey Jacks, some springboards, and spend a few hours artfully, deliberately, and painfully slowly jacking this motherfucker over. Well get our jacks set first, then load em up, and then well get an under cut in it. If everything looks good we can start back cutting this POS, tickling our hinge a little, watching our gauges so we know whether we got her, or she's sitting back on us. We might end up doing this for a fucking hour until she finally goes. When it hits the ground well see if your fleet footed enough to haul ass side hill to keep yourself from getting fucking killed. Hows that for boring bro? When were done well go get some brats and beers and tell each other how fucking awesome we are!!!!
Rico, that was some good prose! Painted a detailed picture without using too much paint.

(I still love you, even if my parents failed miserably...;))
 

RBJtree

Well-Known Member
I don't agree with everything ropeshield said, but he makes at least one valid point. Different types of wood and conditions of wood will react differently when being cut and pulled or pushed (even just by gravity). But take out heavy leaners and seriously compromised structure and there are some fairly universal basics that can be applied across the board of typical trees. What I think is of great importance is to know where the boarder line of "typical" is. That is where standard techniques might not be enough. A 45° notch of 30-50% diameter, pointed in the right direction, with NO BYPASS and a straight back cut stepped up 1 inch, an inch or so of hinge wood left uncut, a pull rope at 2/3rds height and adequate pulling force will safely drop the majority of trees that don't have a lean of more than a few degrees, in an open field. Outside of that box, experience is, in my opinion, very important.
 

Serf Life

Active Member
@Bucknut was refering to pics uploaded on intentional barberchair thread this past winter by Mr. Armour of 'chaired maples. Anyways, species and physical char.s of wood is certainly a valid addition to this thread.
 

rico

Well-Known Member
Rico, that was some good prose! Painted a detailed picture without using too much paint.

(I still love you, even if my parents failed miserably...;))
You know I love ya too Bucky, and obviously your parents did something right. They made you after all!!
 
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rico

Well-Known Member
@Bucknut was refering to pics uploaded on intentional barberchair thread this past winter by Mr. Armour of 'chaired maples. Anyways, species and physical char.s of wood is certainly a valid addition to this thread.
Who is this Mr. Armour character you speak of?
 

rico

Well-Known Member
What is wrong with you? I know your intentions are good but suggesting University botany as a requirement for basic felling fundamentals is ridiculous.
Once again I gotta agree with DSMc. Sorry Rope. One of the best faller I have ever known is a local fella who stopped showing up for school in 6th grade. He was already a pretty good faller by the time he's was 13-14 yrs old. Did college level botany classes make him this good at such and early age? Nope. It was the years of real life, masterclass level, hands on training that his father gave him while he was actually working in the woods. The shit you are not going to learn with your nose buried in a book.
 
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RopeShield

Well-Known Member
Ignoring the science of wood, why wood want to do that to a thirsty mind inquiring knowledge:estudioso:?
If the starting point remains at felling, it will always be first option. We caught stuff down because that is what we know:tonto:
With science comes a greater understanding of the biomechanics of wood and with this knowledge comes a confidents in performing tasks, pruning, felling cabling etc.(y)
It is better for the planet, the student and the tree.
Suggesting anything else is ludicrous and arguing otherwise shows an ignorance that is seriously dumbfounding. Here only to shed some light.
I tried to help and provide my take on the subject those of you who disagree that is fine I get your point of view but as treeman/mentor, science is first, understanding plants/botany/wood is the starting point. Why are we felling in the 1st place, better be a good reason because people who understand and communicate the science will make us look like the hack.
This is pretty fucked up and I wood suggest to any one who wants to be a pro to move on from this thread find a good Botany text and learn about wood from people with more comprehensive tree knowledge.
IF we want this thread to be what it is intended to be the starting point is clear to me.
 
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RopeShield

Well-Known Member
'Da fuck? Had to read that one twice. And I disagree. The guy flunking botany might be the best sawyer in the class. A dude with a phD in physics won't be the best one either. I'm none of the above and not a perfect faller, so looking forward to this thread.
P.S. you're the one posting intentional barberchairs.
Crucify me for it, I did it, I survived, short cut, safer for me, faster, protected some imovable objects and trees, slow the fall onto the ice and keep ice intact for mini loader. Years of cutting and staying alive in tree tops and on the ground. I am completely positive if this was taught in school, etc there would be far less injuries and death. Because they would understand what happens to wood and how to control it with confidence.
at tshis point many out there are playing russian roulette. THey just don't know.
 
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