Sunday, April 7, 2013

Falling Cuts; A Review


One of the comments on a recent post reminded me that we haven't covered falling plans and falling cuts for quite a while, and a little review is in order. This honeylocust stump is a tree that died next to a parking lot, and I was asked to drop it. I followed my normal procedure of sizing up the tree,(Sizing Up Part 1Part 2, Part 3) , then made a falling plan.  The cuts shown on the stump are the result of the plan.  No. 1 is the aiming cut, and it was a cause for discussion.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to drop it into the woods or into the parking lot.  Dropping it into the woods would have meant no cleanup afterward, but a couple more trees had to be cut first if I went that way, to prevent a dangerous hangup.  We chose the parking lot, which meant a total disassembly of the tree after we had it on the ground.  We weren't sure if the tree was weighted toward the woods or the parking lot, so the plan included using wedges, just in case a push was needed.

The aiming cut was made downward until the length of the hinge was at least 80% of the tree's diameter, then No. 2 was made to meet the first cut, making an opening of 90°.   Cut No. 3 is a bore cut made on the same level as the junction of cuts 1 and 2, and is angled a bit toward the back, to avoid accidentally severing the hinge.  The tree was a bit wider than the length of my 24" bar, so I made Cut No. 4 (vertical), and Cut No. 5 (horizontal) to expose the end of Cut No. 3.  The saw was re-inserted in Cut No. 3, the dogs were pressed in and the saw was rotated toward the hinge (No. 6) until it was the proper thickness all the way across.  Cut No. 7 was made on the heavy side of the tree, then a wedge was driven in (No. 8).   No. 9 is the tensioned side of the tree, and was made straight out the back to be the release cut.  As things turned out, the tree was heavy toward the hinge, and it fell over without having to pound on the wedge. 

This method is really great for nervous folks like me, because the tree holds still while all the setup is made, and it won't go into motion until the release cut is made.  While the tree is standing on the hinge and backstrap, you can take a final look around for safety, and if you need to pause, the tree isn't going anywhere until you make that last cut.  Don't forget to make an escape of at least 15' as soon as the tree begins to tip, and stay back until debris ceases to rain down.

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