Friday, September 18, 2015

Respecting Rotten Trees

I was asked to drop this rotten red maple recently because it was endangering  a parking area. You can see the evidence of fungus on the stump and the stem, and it sounded (Thump it with a hatchet.) punky, too. There are a few things to think about with rotten trees. You don't know how much strength the hinge is going to have, so you don't want to fight side-lean. Walk around the tree and find that spot where the tree is well balanced side-to-side; that way the tree won't be trying to go sideways, pulling the hinge apart. You also don't want to fight back lean, because the tree will probably just head over backwards when you start pounding on your wedges. You have to take it in the direction of its weight/lean. Make your hinge about 1/2 again as thick as you normally would so it doesn't crush and trap your saw.

Evaluate your tree so you know where it will go if the stem breaks. Breaks happen suddenly and you won't have time to think about it if it happens. It will happen to you if you cut many of these hazard trees. When it does go pop you will know exactly where to step to get out of the way. In this case I made my front cut for the tree to rotate, I punched the saw through from the right side of the photo to the left and angling back. I then hooked the dogs in and began sweeping to the front of the tree to set the hinge thickness. The back of the tree popped apart before I got there and the tree went down as planned, just a little quicker than I wanted it to. I made one step and was 135° from the front cut when the tree hit the ground. Normally I like to be ten feet or more away when the tree lands, but this is what you get with rotten trees.

When you are cutting sound trees you can take your time, stop and talk about it, or even take a lunch break. When you are cutting a rotten one you need to have your plan in mind and do your cuts as quickly in succession as possible. Don't fiddle around and give the tree a chance to collapse or pull apart when you could have it cut on your terms.

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