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General Forestry => Chainsaws => Topic started by: Paschale on September 18, 2002, 10:42:23 PM

Title: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Paschale on September 18, 2002, 10:42:23 PM
Hi everyone,

I'm a relative newbie when it comes to felling trees.  I certainly have an appropriate and healthy respect (maybe fear!) of the potential dangers involved when cutting down trees.  Next weekend, I'm going to the U.P. of Michigan to mill an ash tree.  The tree was blown down by the wind, but it caught on a much smaller tree, and has not fallen completely to the ground.  I am uncertain what the best method would be to get the tree all the way to the ground.  Cutting down the small tree is filled with danger--I can only imagine the force which would be loosed if I were to cut that one down.  I suspect it would shoot off in a very unpredictable manner, and certainly could possible result in serious injury.  I've enclosed a picture of the situation.  As I've thought through the scenario, I've wondered about cutting through the smaller tree partially, then perhaps attaching a chain to the smaller tree and using some horsepower to help get it down.  But, I know there's a heck of a lot of experience here on the forum, so I figure I'd check with you all.  Any help is greatly appreciated!  (Incidentally, I will be with two other guys who are pretty experienced with chainsaws...but I'd still appreciate some advice!  No tree is worth hurting oneself over!)

Dan M.

PS  I had a hard time trimming the picture so it wasn't too big a file, so hopefully there's enough there for you all to see what the situation is.  The small diameter tree at the far left is the tree on which the ash is hung up.

PPS I also posted this in the Safety Board, but it seems like this is just as relevant a topic here--so I hope no one minds!

( Tree Pic.jpg )
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: KiwiCharlie on September 18, 2002, 11:06:44 PM
G'day Dan,

Firstly, for the picture thing, head over to, and you will find a free program for reducing the size of photos without having to crop the bejesus out of it!!

As for the hung tree, this is always a very tricky situation.  Each senario has its own factors, so I would be wary of giving you advice as to what to do.  No matter how you tackle it, make sure you have a clear and large escape route available, and dont be afraid of dropping the saw as you go, to get out a bit faster!  You can always replace the saw.....
I have had success by cutting a V cut in the top of the hung log (not more than half way!), not too high off the ground, and then coming up from below, until it starts to give, then getting the heck outa there.  By coming up from below, you avoid the saw bar getting pinched, as the cut is opening up.
This often gives the tree enough energy to come loose and come down completely.  Depends if you want the log for milling or not, as with this way, you will loose part of the bottom of the log.
Just spend as much time as you need surveying it, dont rush into it, and get your friends advice too.
Hope it goes well.  You cant be too safe.  Let us know how you get on.
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: DanG on September 18, 2002, 11:37:02 PM
I couldn't get your photo to show up at all, so I'm just trying to envision the scene from your description.  First, DO NOT get a saw anywhere near the small supporting tree!  My first instinct is to use the aforementioned horsepower. Since you mentioned that, you must have access to it with a vehicle.  If the supporting tree is small enough, you may be able to move it enough to allow the ash to complete its fall.  If not, perhaps you could "roll" the ash off of it by attaching a winch cable to a stout branch on the opposite side, running it over whatever is left of the tree's canopy, creating sufficient leverage to free it.
If these things fail, and you don't have any better ideas, you might consider going home and having a few beers, and just let the DanG thing rot down.  It ain't worth killing yourself over!

BTW, it's probably good that you chose your Forum "handle" as you did. After what has been done with mine, these guys would have a field day with DanM! :D :D
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: DanG on September 19, 2002, 12:09:55 AM
I want to add a little to what I said above. What you are dealing with is known as a "widowmaker."  They call it that for a reason.  The power contained in a large tree, under stress, is awesome, unpredictable, and extraordinarily swift. They should be handled only by people who have the knowledge, AND equipment to do so safely.  If you can get a vehicle to it, you can get enough power there to free it, and salvage the log. It may not be cheap, as it may mean transporting a skidder.  You probably can do it with a couple of 4wd trucks and a bunch of ropes, but, if you can't, then call in a pro.

Dan, I'm not directing this just at you, since you have demonstrated your safety conciousness by starting this thread. This needs to be discussed here for the benefit of everyone who might be reading it.
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: swampwhiteoak on September 19, 2002, 06:44:38 AM
I wouldn't want to be any place near that DanG tree where it could fall on me.  This is a job for a chain and a skidder or truck.  Just isn't worth taking the risk.
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: OneWithWood on September 19, 2002, 11:14:01 AM
I am with the majority here.  If you cannot put a timber winch on it and drag it clear - leave it.  If the tree is a potential danger because of people traffic get a pro to get it down.
I have had too many close calls thinking I could just make a cut here and a cut there to relieve the tension and bring one down. :o  Now I am a big fan of staying clear of such trees and letting nature take its course.
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Tillaway on September 19, 2002, 12:28:11 PM
Heavy equipment...  I you have little or no experience, don't touch it.  Bring in heavy equipment, you will save the log and yourself.  
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Kevin on September 19, 2002, 04:37:21 PM
That looks like a large tree and is very dangerous.
Don`t get under it for any reason.
Pull it or winch it from a safe distance.
Trees like this have killed many people, don`t risk getting anywhere close to where it could fall on you.
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Corley5 on September 19, 2002, 04:53:57 PM
A situation like yours is bad enough for a professional to have to deal with.  Without actually seeing the whole thing in person to judge how it's sitting, where the pressure is etc,etc, etc No advice could or should be given other than that which already has been.  Bring in a professional and/or a piece of heavy equipment like a skidder or a dozer.  Ash is especially dangerous because of its tendency to split and don't ever try to cut the tree that is holding the other up.
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Steve on September 19, 2002, 06:42:47 PM
Another way to look at it--

IF the tree is completely cut free of the stump you might try this.With a chain or cable put a rolling hitch on the log so that when you pull on if with a come along (from a safe distance) you cause the tree to roll off the stump and if you're real lucky it might even roll it  out of the tree.
Rolling hitch- like this I think. Face the log, throw the hook over and hook the cable or chain on your side now roll the loop so that the hook comes around the back of the log and winds the cable oder the top of the log. Now when you pull it will roll the log.
Be carefull ,but this can be a low tech way to get the tree out if you're lucky.

Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Ron Scott on September 19, 2002, 07:29:31 PM
Definetly stay away from such hangers until its safely on the ground. Pull it down with a cable skidder, grapple, or forwarder with winch on it. Hire a "pro" with the proper equipment if you don't have it and know how to use it.

A professional has the KSA's for this situation. Also caution flag the area to others until the tree is down. We had a near miss with such a situation on a job a couple weeks ago when someone from the mill came out on the job briefly and walked up to a "hanger" unknowingly just as it came down.  
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Jeff on September 19, 2002, 08:19:18 PM
Listen to the advice you are getting here. I don't want to hear that one of our forum members or any oneelse for that matter got killed doing something like chainsawing on that tree. It is not worth the risk. DID YOU HEAR ME?? ?? >:(

:) :) :)
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Paschale on September 19, 2002, 08:45:46 PM
Thanks for all the responses and the advice.  It seems the overall consensus is leave the DanG (or DanM) tree alone! :D  I am certainly far too inexperienced to handle it on my own.  I'm going up with my dad, and though he's a deft handler of a chainsaw, he's certainly as inexperienced as I am with felling a tree like this.  The third guy is the one with the Wood-Mizer, and I'll try and determine his comfort level with handling a situation like this.  I honestly am uncertain of his experience level, and I'll be completely upfront with him when we go up there, and tell him that if he hasn't had experience with this sort of situation, I want to just leave it alone.  There certainly isn't any tree that's worth risking life and limb over!  In addition, the only "heavy equipment" we have access to would be a couple of trucks and a tractor, nothing like a bulldozer or skidder.  Someone suggested using a rolling hitch if the log's been cut from the stump, but this is one which was windblown, so the roots are still intact.  My inexperience is pretty clear, since I'm not sure what a rolling hitch is anyway.  As to the whole safety issue, I've been looking at the OSHA website about logging and felling trees, and they say the same thing as what most of you have said, and it's put a healthy and appropriate dose of fear in me, believe me!

Even if we decide to leave the ash tree alone, the trip won't be a waste, since we have plenty of maple up there which we could pick and choose to fell in a safe manner.  Plus, it should be a good trip, spent in the woods with my dad.  I certainly want both of us to come back, however!, so that ash tree will probably be there for quite some time to come!  If I'm lucky, maybe the tree has fallen of its own accord in the two or three months since I've been up there--I'll give you all a report when I get back.

Oh...and Jeff B...I heard you loud and clear!  ;)

Thanks for all the input!

Dan M.

PS  Many of you mentioned hiring a professional.  Is there a website where one can find someone with the required experience?  Our land is located in Michigan, in Delta County and I know there are a ton of loggers up there who could probably help us out with this, if we decide to go that route, but since it's such short notice, I'm not sure if it's feasible to hire someone.  I guess I'm mainly curious how one obtains the services of a professional logger.

Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Tillaway on September 19, 2002, 10:06:29 PM
Local saw shop that caters to professionals.  Post a sign or ask someone that works there.   I would look at it if I was near by, but it's a bit of a trip for me. ::)
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Kevin on September 20, 2002, 05:48:19 AM
You are dealing with a tree that appears to be about 2ft. DBH.
The tree weighs several thousand pounds and is under extreme pressure.
You`re dealing with wood under tension and compression along with gravity along the red line.
There will be extreme pressure on the tree and once you start cutting the fibers away there`s no telling what might happen.
It could be a non event or it could just as easily rip your head off and spit in your neck.
( )
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Frank_Pender on September 20, 2002, 07:12:41 AM
This is where I have the most fun of falling trees.   I often will spend a day or three reviewing my options.   One thought not listed yet is the following.  the least stress could well be right at the stump/ground level.  Place a saw cut ever so slightly in the top of the log at the dirt mark.   Cut until you feel that the chain and bar are beginning to pinch.   Then, place a plastic wedge into the top cut and drive it as far as possible without forcing the wedge to pop out of the cut.  I woudl then begin an undercut  in line with the previous top cut, where the wedge is locate.  In this way when to begin to get closer to your top cut your bar and chain are less likely to get pinched when the cut is complete.  You will find that the main stem will drop to the ground and your stump will lean back toward its original home.   Again, this is a very dangerous task to deal with.  When the stump is free, you could then place the rolling hitch or attach a choker to the butt end of the log and pull 90 dgrees to the main stem of the tree to allow for the canopy to either roll out of its resting place or put out enough to hit the ground.  MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ALL OF YOUR DUCKS IN A ROW BEFORE ANYONE TACKLES THIS TASK, please!
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Bro. Noble on September 20, 2002, 07:39:33 AM
There are so many things that can go wrong when cutting logs.  You never think of some of them until they happen.  One thing than no one has mentioned that could very well happen to a beginner in this situation is a rope or cable snapping.  Ropes aren't meant to pull logs, guy wires aren't logging cables etc.  Even using the right cable, a guy needs to have some kind of feel for how much they will take.  When any of the above snap, they can go zinging in everwhich direction and could decapitate a person.

It's the things that you didn't anticipate that hurt you.

Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Oregon_Rob on September 20, 2002, 07:54:47 AM
From what I can see in the photo, it looks as though the top is caught between two smaller trees and I am guessing that most of the stump is exposed and the ground looks fairly level. Based on these assumptions, my first attempt would be to carefully cut any remaining, exposed roots loose, take a chain over the top of the root ball and attach as low on the other side as possible. Then with a truck, tractor or both pull on the chain and try to get the tree to rotate out of position. If you can get the tree to roll the right direction, it will most likely come down.
Good luck!
If you go to a local saw shop to hire someone, make sure they are insured. You don't want someone getting injured on your property without their own insurance.
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Paschale on September 20, 2002, 05:15:19 PM
Hi Everyone,

Thanks for the continuing advice.  Looking through my photos, I stumbled on one more picture.  It's kind of fuzzy, but it's taken looking down the tree from the roots to the crown...I thought I'd add it for a clearer picture of the situation.  Looking at this picture makes me aware that it's probably caught in several trees, making it even more difficult.  Or at least I assume...

Dan M.

( Tree-Long View.jpg )
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Bro. Noble on September 20, 2002, 06:16:30 PM
I'll bet it's on the ground when you get up there.

Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Tillaway on September 20, 2002, 06:40:50 PM
If not... it will be next spring.
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: richnewill on September 22, 2002, 11:20:02 AM
I was pointed to this discussion by Jeff Brokaw, since as a Loss Control Rep for the Michigan Association of Timbermen Self-Insurance Fund I regularly work toward the protection of loggers from injury.  It is crystal clear to me:  This is not a job for any newbie.  Furthermore, this job requires use of heavy equipment if it must be dealt with.  If it may be left alone, the area should be flagged to ensure no one walks under the tree inadvertently.  The first rule of logging is that all hangers must be pulled down before moving to the next chore.  This being a natural hanger, the rule may be hard to apply.  However, the reason for the rule is very simple.  Hangers are a real and present danger, easily forgotten within moments.  To cut this tree would certainly represent a challenge to any logger.  This challenge, though exciting and envigorating, is beyond the limits of common sense and personal safety.  DO NOT attempt this on your own.  Thanks for listening, and I commend the majority that wrote to say what I am restating here.  Life is too short and valuable to risk on such a tree.  If you survive, it could be as a permanent invalid.  Not worth it!  Rich Newill
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Jeff on October 10, 2002, 03:49:35 PM
Does it bother anybody else that we never heard from Pascale again after he was supposed to go up after that tree?

I never heard of a tree getting anybody on the 9 and 10 news which I think covers that area so I take it he is alright. I sent him an email a while back but got no answer. :-/
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Tillaway on October 10, 2002, 04:14:19 PM
They don't even report accidents like that in the news out here... too common I guess.
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Ron Scott on October 13, 2002, 09:55:14 AM
I assume he left it alone and is ok. I haven't heard any U.P. news otherwise.
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Corley5 on October 18, 2002, 08:34:45 PM
I thought about him the other day too.  I was dealing with a maple that hung up.  Since I was cutting it for firewood I started blocking off chunks.  I'd cut through from the top side until it just started to pinch and then cut up from the bottom.  After a few of these it rolled a bit and came out of the tree it was hanging in.  Take into consideration that in this instance there was no side bind and it was a much smaller tree than the ash Pascale was going to deal with.  Today I cut a large beech that hung up.  I used the tractor to pull it down.
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Paschale on November 01, 2002, 09:36:47 PM
Hi Everyone,

I see that my topic has gotten some airtime again, and I have been remiss in replying!  My trip got delayed a couple of weeks, and since I've been back, I've been swamped, so I apologize for the delayed reply.  I am happy to report that I am alive and well...and that we got the Ash tree safely down.  It's stacked and stickered, drying at my dad's place.

The forum had pretty sober words about the dangers of bringing it down.  When my dad and I went up, we weren't positive that we'd even attempt it, based on the advice from the forum.  But, as several on the forum suggested, taking a close look at the situation was required.  We felt that we could get it down for a couple of reasons--I could describe the situation in another post if people are interested.

Part of my reason for not responding was that since the majority of responses said "don't do it!," I thought that maybe because I did end up doing it, I'd get a bit of a verbal lashing from the forum.  Especially considering the last post before my trip up, from a forestry loss control officer!

Anyway, please accept my apologies for not replying sooner!  And thanks for all the advice too!

PS  JeffB--I must have deleted your email by mistake.  My email here on the forestryforum is my secondary one, and so yours probably got lost in amongst the myriad of spam which goes in the trash bin.

Here are a couple pics...

( Logs Close-up.jpg)

( Milling.jpg)

And just before stacking...

( Ash.jpg)

Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Kevin on November 02, 2002, 07:56:01 AM
Nice job.
It`s not so much doing the job but knowing the dangers involved.
If you aren`t aware of the potential dangers and just start hacking away at a hung tree you`re asking for trouble and I suspect you approached this tree with some respect and looked it over real well before making any cuts.
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Jeff on November 02, 2002, 08:02:15 AM
PS  JeffB--I must have deleted your email by mistake.  My email here on the forestryforum is my secondary one, and so yours probably got lost in amongst the myriad of spam which goes in the trash bin.

I'm feeling pretty dejected right now knowing that I am part of "a myriad of spam"  but I am still relieved to hear that you are O.K. ;)
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Paschale on November 02, 2002, 10:30:57 AM
You know Jeff...I reread what I wrote...and I could have written that a bit better!  How could anyone's email from the good ole forestry forum be spam?  I just hit the delete button in hotmail, because all I could see was spam, spam, spam.  Little did I know I sent a valuable email to an untimely death!'s definitely good to have that ash, and it's even better to be alive!
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Corley5 on November 02, 2002, 02:52:46 PM
Glad to hear it went well!!  Looking over the situation and thinking about it is always the best.  Never rush head first into anything.  That tree made some nice lumber.  What are your plans for it?
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Paschale on November 03, 2002, 11:50:20 AM

I'm pretty pleased with the results of the lumber.  I haven't completely calculated how much lumber I was able to get out of the five logs, but it's quite a bit!  I hope to do several projects with it, though the primary one will be to build new kitchen cabinets.  We'll see how much that takes, and the rest will just be for fun projects.

Dan M.
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Weekend_Sawyer on November 07, 2002, 09:43:09 AM
 Heay Paschale,

Glad you made it through, You have to start somewhere!

Nice Lumbermate. Yet another OTHER Orange!
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: IndyIan on November 07, 2002, 07:29:18 PM
Hi Paschale,
I was wondering if you could post how you took that tree down.  I had one in the exact same position except the leaner had a V and it hung up on another tree and now they are both leaners.... ::)
The first leaner fell this spring and I had not taken my chainsaw course yet so I left it alone and the second tree uprooted in the middle of the summer.  Fortunatley the second tree is hung up in some small(40ft) cedars so I won't lose any more good trees to this domino effect.

My best guess is to cut the first leaner like a normal heavy leaning tree, notch the front, and plunge cut the back cut leaving a good hinge, then cut through the holding wood and take a few quick steps back.  Hopefully they will both fall then or I'll try and winch the butt from behind the stump and back until the whole tree is on the ground.  
I'll post some pics of this situation if I remember to bring the digital camera to the woods this weekend.
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Tom on November 07, 2002, 07:51:24 PM
It's not just a leaning tree if the top is hung.  you may have to undercut the tree to keep it from pinching your saw. Look at it closely before you get too committed. You may have to take your notch from the top and cut the backcut from undereneath with the back of the bar.

I'd be willing to bet that you will end up using the winch.

Please be careful.
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: Paschale on November 15, 2002, 08:16:32 PM

Sorry I've not responded sooner to your post.  You asked for my advice--honestly, I don't feel qualified to give advice when it comes to felling trees, since this really was my first go at it, and I didn't even actually do the cutting.  It was an incredibly stressful situation to be sure, and not one that I would have attempted on my own.  We cut it with a guy who's had quite a bit of experience in the woods, and even so, it was nerve-wracking to say the least.  As it turned out, in our case, there wasn't a problem.  We did utilize chains and a tractor to help guide the tree, and I don't think we would have attempted it without that power.  Anyway, I wish you the best of luck, and if you're able to post some pictures on here, there will certainly be others with much more experience than me that can help you.

Best of luck,

Dan M.
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: tony_marks on November 24, 2002, 10:26:17 AM
after the hugo hurricane ,i was working one just about like this.
one of many i did with no incident. i tried to  make a cut. when it went ,it was so fast that it past me, as i was retreating. just a foot to the side and i just plain wouldnt be here . the tree was as large as yours an real sprung into a  bigger tree than yours.that one had me layin awake at nite for a while.pull it loose an down before foolin with it ,would be my advice.
ps u probably know this but if its still attached to the root ball dont be anywhere near that if u cut. little girl got killed that same day .
the root ball sprung back up with her in the i remember
her dad then got his gun walked into the woods and never came back alive . this a real sad story ,but just one of many.
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: IndyIan on December 02, 2002, 08:07:36 AM
Well I still haven't remembered to bring my digital camera and I definetely haven't thought about cutting down my hang up trees.  The stories here are a good dose of reality of what can happen when big trees are hung up...  Hopefully some weekend I'll go have a look at them and they're on the ground!  If not I guess I can wait till they are.  
There are some good timbers in those trees for my house so hopefully they don't rot before they come down.
Play safe,
Title: Re: Safety Advice for Newbie...
Post by: L. Wakefield on December 02, 2002, 08:54:43 AM
   Yes- last time I walked fence (during hunting season- multi-tasking as usual)- there was a little section near the swamp where popples had leaned over and were like slow dominoes. I saw one leaner then as I was scanning I realized I was standing under another and I looked over and saw a 3rd- all at the same angle. I am assuming it's a combo of wind load and soil plane. They all are falling 'uphill' or away from water. 'Away' is a relative term, since it's right up close under the roots. Dank and dismal area. No value for sawlogs, I am certain. There was one standing up a ways on up the fence line- dead- and when I used it as a fence post the wood was really punky to staple into. lw