A Discussion on The Fundamentals of Tree Felling

RBJtree

Well-Known Member
In some cases it changes the wood character. Last year the wood moisture levels were the lowest ever record by the DNR, less hingy and more brittle.
That is my experience too, however, in PA we haven't had any lack of rain in quite a few years. We have had a lot of dead ash which, like all trees, get more brittle the longer they have been dead. I have also noticed that the weight increase of very wet live wood, such as when sap is rising in the spring and it has been rainy, seems to cause horizontal limbs to break down sooner than if they were at a medium wetness, but thats not felling. I can't say i've noticed a difference durring felling with medium to very wet wood.
 

RBJtree

Well-Known Member
Hi again, very interesting thread this, and have read some things that chime with me. Tony mentioned felling smaller dia trees and complacency I think also from Rico. I admit I have fallen for this one. Say Ive been on a job falling douglas at 160 foot, been doing it for weeks. Then Im asked to nip down the landing and tip over some squirt of a tree, and thats when its so easy to fuck it up.
This is an American forum with most if not all contributions American, thats cool. Just hope its ok to chip in with a UK perspective. Over here every cutter has to be liscenced, no ticket no work, full stop. To get your ticket you start with training on trees no greater than guid bar, say 18 inches. Once you've done mantainance and risk assesment then you start felling. An uprite tree with simple sink and back cut. Moving on to leaning in direction of fell, and finaly felling away from the direction of fell. Theres also snedding or what you call bucking I think.
As a trainer I would typicaly take 6 may be 8 guys into the wood and work a buddy system. A spruce plantation , trees at two meter spacings and perhaps forty foot tall. The idea is to cut out every fith row, the go for miles. There is plenty to cut and they do so for 5 days solid. I move through the wood watching and talking stumps with the guys, as the days pass I'm not looking for perfection it seldom happens. I'm looking to see who has grasped the princibles, and importantly whos has,nt. Sooner or later some one get one hung up and we all gather for a laugh and then discus the safest way to get it to the floor.
The following week an indipendant examiner comes into the wood and puts ech candidate through his paces for a competant pass or not yet competent fail. Ive been trainer and examiner. Newbies are nervous, understandable. So theres conversation to help the candidate eaz in. Lets supose he/she gets it on the floor in roughly the right place, however the hinge is a bit squify and the back cut aint quite right. It not nesseseraly a fail, You could ask the candidate what he thought of the fell and what he has lernt from the stump. If he can identify the erorrs, he can correct them. So have another go. With luck its a pass and the candidate gets his ticket, limited to guid bar only. He returns to his employer and consolidates his learning for a year or two untill ready to return to training and move up the scale to bar and a half ext. This period of consolidation is important and the hope is the fundementle priciples stick. An important point. No money passes between the candidate his trainer or the assesor/examiner. Thats all handled by City and Guilds, only right and proper. It can atke a trainer a couple of years to qualify as too examiners, and are required to demonstrate skills to a higher authority on a regular basis. Sorry if this has been long winded way of driving home the need for understanding the basics of felling, and building on that.
I've never been a timber faller. I do urban and suburban work. Mostly in tight places often over roofs and overhead utility lines. Sometimes I get the chance to drop a tree whole. I actually got to drop 11 trees whole in the last 2 days, but that is a rare number for me. In Pennsylvania there are no training requirements to do the work I do. Within a certain distance of power lines you are supposed to be certified, but that rule is usually ignored and never enforced. I think it is a good thing to require some training. I kind of hope our government starts requiring more training of us. It would certainly save lives and probably make our industry better over all.
 

Serf Life

Well-Known Member
I've never been a timber faller. I do urban and suburban work. Mostly in tight places often over roofs and overhead utility lines. Sometimes I get the chance to drop a tree whole. I actually got to drop 11 trees whole in the last 2 days, but that is a rare number for me. In Pennsylvania there are no training requirements to do the work I do. Within a certain distance of power lines you are supposed to be certified, but that rule is usually ignored and never enforced. I think it is a good thing to require some training. I kind of hope our government starts requiring more training of us. It would certainly save lives and probably make our industry better over all.
More gov'mt ovah-sight! Christ bud haven't you read the news? We need less of that to make economy better and keep dumb people in their place.
 

RBJtree

Well-Known Member
More gov'mt ovah-sight! Christ bud haven't you read the news? We need less of that to make economy better and keep dumb people in their place.
I'm iffy on it honestly. I am not a great lover of big government, but I think there are things the government should do. So long as the government is made up of the people and not the oligarch. Shit did I just write something political? I've been trying to quit.
 

Tony

Well-Known Member
As I evaluate a tree for lean I am looking for a few key things.

To judge lean I simply step back from the tree as far as is reasonable, form a diamond with the thumb and forefinger of each hand, center this over the biomass of the tree (all things tree) and envision a plumb line descending to the ground. The distance this imaginary line intersects the ground from the cut gives me a rough lean measurement. This system generally works and will not have you fee tricked by apparent lean caused by phototropism or other environmental factors.

If that lean measurement starts to exceed 3 to 5 feet in any direction, the bells start to chime. Not in danger, but in planning. Often offsetting the face, pull lines or other techniques can be used to compensate for lean. (that is for a future part of this discussion) Suffice to say in very general terms, when I estimate 3 to 5 feet of lean, the lean or how to compensate for it becomes a major contributing part of the plan. Lean of any amount, or conversely no lean at all, must always be considered, but I don't specifically plan for it save the parameters above. Again I make that last statement in VERY general terms.

First and foremost, I will always feel in the direction of lean if possible. I see no reason to struggle against gravity. The next easiest lean to deal with is back lean. Moving a tree straight forward and over center uses your hinge to it's fullest extent and wood fiber cooperates nicely all other things being in line. Side lean can get tricky, tree height, wood type, time of year are always factors, but play more into the equation with side lean because you are asking the hinge to do so much more.

I look forward to your thoughts and then we can move on to the next element I plan for Equipment and escape route.

Tony
 

RopeShield

Well-Known Member
Imho lean is one the easiest things to overcome. Lean/centre of mass is a constant and rarely does it change in felling operations. Be warned of long heavy over reaching nearing horizontal limbs, multi leader spreadingcrowns. One miscalculation of the ballast and a tree will tip away from the lay.
1. Model the tree. Balance on one foot and hold as much weight as you can imagine is proportional to the tree. Imagine what it takes to overcome the lean and weight. be sure to calculate the warning through the tipping process

2. Know the wood at the specific notch and backcut site for the intended lay. This needs carefull assessment before lean.
The wood on the other hand is rarely consistent and will have defecencies(torqued, fractures, internal seams etc also goes from tension, to compression to rotted, wet to dry, frozen or or vice versa. Be warned Trees in urban environments, fence lines and almost any where man has occupied can have metal. A pipe, t-bar, bolt, lag, screw etc can easily turn a tree..
Lean will be difucult to assess when visual observations from distances less than 1/2 the height and the centre of mass is unuasal or asymetric. Tree hugging and looking up the stem is flawed eye can be tricked to see or misssing the whole picture

3. Draw a Hard line to the sky, centre and front of view of the tree from as many profiles as possible and remark lil to left, lil to right an lil to back of the lay for example. Rake handle held at the top like pendulum or coworker holding poles under the tree will work

Every thing can be set to perfect, pull lines, wedges, jack etc but if the wood at the cut is miscalculated the results can be catastrophic. Evaluate the ood
When it is crucial trees should be dismantled to a safe felling height or more consistent centre of mass
 

rico

Well-Known Member
There is nothing better for assessing leans than a plumb bob/plumb line. Its never wrong and can be used to read even the subtlest of leans, used to read changing leans within a given tree, and used by your groundie to read leans when you are blownin tops or chunking wood. A dirt cheap indispensable tool, and a must have for any serious tree-man.
 
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