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Author Topic: How to safely take down a massive windblown white oak?  (Read 309 times)

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Offline rakerhead50

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How to safely take down a massive windblown white oak?
« on: February 23, 2021, 01:48:44 PM »
 

 

 

 Hi, I have a friend who wants a very massive white oak taken down after it was blown over from wind in a storm. The base of the tree still has a massive root ball on it and itís also noticeable that inside the base of the trunk is what appears to be large carpenter ant tunnels. The tree is at least 36Ē mid-trunk, but at the base it may be a little wider. I am not a professional tree service man, but me and some friends have good experience cutting trees with large chainsaws. Based on the attached photo, I would like to hear how most of you would approach this tree. You may not can see, but in the photo is a small farm fence underneath the trunk. The fence will be removed before we drop this tree to the ground. Thanks for any of your help.

Offline DeerMeadowFarm

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Re: How to safely take down a massive windblown white oak?
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2021, 02:35:33 PM »
I don't know if it's the best way but if I had a good sized backhoe, I'd put the bucket into the top of the root ball before cutting the trunk. Then use it to slowly lower it back assuming it wants to spring back. If not, I'd work my way from the limbs towards the trunk being cautious of it lifting back up as I removed weight. 

Every situation is different. Most cases I have just severed the trunk at the base and prepared for the root ball to spring back, but it looks like a lot of longitudinal cracks going up the trunk so I'd be afraid that it act strangely once you got through half the tree.

I had a huge pine come down like that across one of my wood road this summer. I didn't get around to cutting it until fall. I fully expected the root ball to spring back when I cut the trunk. I measured out two good 12' logs and cut the trunk there at 24' (plus trim) and then I cut the next 12' log closer to the base, and then the final one. Root ball never moved. In fact, next time I'm down there with the backhoe I plan to flip it back up as it's kinda in the way as it sits now.  

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Re: How to safely take down a massive windblown white oak?
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2021, 04:43:09 PM »
No matter what youíre planning on doing with it (log or firewood) then Iíd start with the limbs that you can reasonably get at for safety purposes and proceed from there. As the log rolls and reacts, it will show you what and how it will be the safest to approach. Have a few saws ready and only 1 person running them until itís safely on the ground. You will likely get a saw pinched a time or to. Iím not trying to be a naysayer, just a realist. 

When the limbs are gone, attack the trunk at the rootball. The rootball should roll back into the hole. 

After the smaller limbs are done, the rest SHOULD be fairly straight forward. Even the big trunk. If he wants the rootball gone, thatís going to be the time to get it. Itís not going to be in the way like this, and the trunk wonít be in the machineís way like that, just have the trunk already in the hole and ready to roll it out when you are done with the cutting. Iíve done a few like this and it works well for everyone.

Like everything else, it sounds easier than it is in practice, but with the right mindset, it can be a LOT of fun!
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Re: How to safely take down a massive windblown white oak?
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2021, 05:54:25 PM »
Had a few like this.   Mine I got perpendicular to the root ball with the skid steer and was able to roll the root ball away from the hole.   Not only that I knocked a bunch of the dirt out.      Sometimes need to trim some limbs in order to roll.   
Yes I typically cut firewood off the branches and limbs before the main stem.  

Had one years ago I cut right close to the root ball for the first cut.  Undercut to release some tension then cut down from the top.   Cut thru enough it seemed to want to let go.      Had the same skid steer and pushed around on the main stem enough to break the root ball off.   

Offline thecfarm

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Re: How to safely take down a massive windblown white oak?
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2021, 08:33:00 PM »
Yes on sawing the limbs off, Careful with that DanG tree!!!! It might try to stand back up on ya.  :o  I would use wedges on any of the cuts on that trunk. Much easier to tap a wedge in, than get a saw stuck in a cut.
I've seen them big ones twist and turn on me a few times. Keep an escape route handy.
Throw some good size limbs under the trunk too. That will help to keep it off the ground so when you cut the trunk, it's off the ground.
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Online Southside

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Re: How to safely take down a massive windblown white oak?
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2021, 10:19:57 PM »
So you probably have 10,000 lbs of wood there and at least 10,000 lbs of dirt in what is likely a stressed root ball, a split trunk, and she is heavy to the side it went over on.  Realizing that you should ask how to tackle this one was a wise choice.  No offense, but if you are not 100% comfortable in tackling this tree then you should leave it to someone who is.  Internet wisdom can't see, hear, and notice all that might happen as you begin to cut away at it.  She might stand up, might roll, might snap off, may chair - all of those will happen faster than you would see it coming.  

If you still want to tackle it then get a big excavator and dig the root ball free so you can knock her down to the ground and eliminate several threats, then you are just cutting up a log on the ground.    
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Offline barbender

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Re: How to safely take down a massive windblown white oak?
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2021, 10:38:44 PM »
The safest way is the way your friend is doing it- having someone else do it😁 Seriously, there is a lot of danger and different ways to get killed on that one. 
Too many irons in the fire

Offline Sauna freak

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Re: How to safely take down a massive windblown white oak?
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2021, 09:08:09 AM »
The best way would be to use some heavy equipment to lift, sling, roll, drag the tree as needed.  Since I don't have heavy equipment, my process would be to take the unsupported limbs off the top, as those tend to roll, snag, and are a danger of smacking you. Then start at the tops and work down.  Firewood length pieces at a time.  Lots of undercuts and hinge cuts, as most will be top loaded.  Be very conscious of where the tree might shift with each cut and where your saw and body parts need to be at the time.  When you get it perched on a couple of those stubs on bottom, cable to a pickup, winch or tractor and try to get it to roll so it's closer to the ground.
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Offline barbender

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Re: How to safely take down a massive windblown white oak?
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2021, 10:15:38 AM »
I would agree with that Sauna freak, except for the fact that it has that massive rootball on it. I'd about guarantee that son of a gun is going to try to stand back up at some point in the process, and that's where a person stands a really good chance of getting hurt.
Too many irons in the fire

Offline rakerhead50

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Re: How to safely take down a massive windblown white oak?
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2021, 01:00:23 PM »
Thank you all for the great responses. I truly appreciate it! It sounds to me like what most of you are thinking goes like this: 1) de-limb the top branches that you can reach working top down in firewood length cuts; 2) once most limbs have been removed near top, focus attention on root ball removal by cutting a notch out of bottom, making a plunge cut above notch and then slowly cutting upward while keeping close eye on everything to see how it reacts; 3) once root ball is off, tree should hopefully roll to the ground for bucking.

My question is, would you at all attempt to cut on the main supporting branches toward top of tree before cutting off root ball? Or cut off root ball first and let tree remain supported on those big branches? Those branches look small in pic, but believe it or not they are like medium sized trees themselves..about as big around as the average human torso. The picture doesnít help to show the size of this white oak. Itís massive! That trunk at the root ball is about 3-4 feet from the ground. Iím nervous about this, but someoneís gotta do it. We plan to get the friend who wants it removed to use some of his heavy equipment tractors. We have the equipment ready if we think weíll need it. My biggest concern is how the tree will react near the base since itís not solid throughout. It is already splintered up the trunk and has some ant tunnels visibly eat out on the inside. Yíall say some prayers for us please.

Offline snobdds

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Re: How to safely take down a massive windblown white oak?
« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2021, 01:05:45 PM »
Always cut in compression then tension for both limbs and trunk. 

Long bar is prefered. 

I would take the easy limbs off first. Then cut the trunk right after the split. 

Good luck

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Re: How to safely take down a massive windblown white oak?
« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2021, 01:11:15 PM »
I think prayers are in order on this one. Stay safe. That split trunk is a wild card, and thereís a whole deck of wild cards to go with it. Itís not something Iíd want to deal with.
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