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Author Topic: First time chainsaw owner seeks land clearing advice.  (Read 14675 times)

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Offline Texas Aaron

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First time chainsaw owner seeks land clearing advice.
« on: July 24, 2006, 10:56:56 PM »
I am the proud owner of 4 acres of land in Texas hill country and plan on building a house on it in the next year.  It is covered in Ashe Juniper and many varieties of Oaks.  I need to start thinning out the Junipers, cut in a road, and remove any Junipers that are blocking my view of the canyon and the horizon beyond.  I plan on leaving all of the Oaks, but the Junipers are so thick you can barely walk between them because of all of the low branches.  I will leave all of the trees on the perimeter of the property for privacy, but the rest needs some work.  It is literally covered in trees.  All of the Junipers are between 12 and 20 feet, and are just as wide as they are tall if they are in the open, but most of the Junipers are really close together and surrounding the oaks.  Most of the Junipers have small trunks, nothing exceeding 12 inches wide.  To improve the health of the oaks and to open it up a bit, I need to cut down and burn at least a hundred Junipers.  I will be saving all of the trunks for possible fence posts, but everything else is going on the bonfire.  Dont worry it will be a controlled burn, I have a lot of work to do before then.

I just bought my first Chainsaw, a Husky 353, and all of the essential safety gear like chaps, helmet with front visor and hearing protection, gloves and steel toe boots.  After reading through the chainsaw forum for two days I chose the 353 based on its size, decent power, and hopefully good reliability and longevity.  I couldn't talk myself into spending the money on a pro model, and feel that anything bigger would be overkill on the puny trees I will be felling.  My first love is furniture making, so I am no stranger to shop tools, but this is my first gas powered saw.  I have been reading everything I can about felling trees online, but thought I would solicit advice here as well.  Do you have any advice for a first time lumberjack?  I plan on spending the next few weekends cutting down many trees and would appreciate any wisdom that you could share with me.  Many thanks!

Offline urbanlumberinc

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Re: First time chainsaw owner seeks land clearing advice.
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2006, 11:17:26 PM »
Best advice I can give anyone doing any dangerous activity is to think through each act before you go about it.  When felling a tree, treat each and every one as if it's the first, that is, don't get into a "groove" and let your brain go into autopilot.  Each and every time I've been injured on the job, it was due at least in small part to allowing myself to operate on autopilot when doing a repetitive act.  This is especially easy to do when using a chainsaw for a long period.  Avoid this by taking breaks every so often and be sure to stay hydrated and and fed. 

Good to hear you've got all your safety gear, twice my saw chaps have spared me a trip to the ER.  Only other thing I'd suggest is a mask.  Junipers, Cedars and other trees can irratate your nose and lungs, and can make you sick.

'sides that, have fun, it's a lot easier to do when it's your land and your trees.

Offline DanG

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Re: First time chainsaw owner seeks land clearing advice.
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2006, 11:29:52 PM »
Look through this board just as carefully as you did the chainsaw board.  There are hundreds of postings about felling safety.  Also, google "Game of Logging" as there are lots of good tips there.

Even if your trees are small, they can still hurt ya.  Make sure you have good footing around you when you start to drop one.  With those bushy junipers, you will probably have lots of slash on the ground before you get to the felling part.  Clear yourself a work area and a good escape route.  Don't be afraid to abandon your saw if you have to get out of the way quickly!  Saws are cheap!
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Offline Tillaway

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Re: First time chainsaw owner seeks land clearing advice.
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2006, 11:41:45 PM »
Swamp it out... cut the low hanging limbs and move them out from your escape route.  Be sure to cut all limbs flush with the trunk.  Leaving them a few inches long just creates something to trip on or worse yet you don't want to find yourself impaled on one. :o  Keep the saw sharp and be extra careful if you cut things above your head.
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Offline DanG

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Re: First time chainsaw owner seeks land clearing advice.
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2006, 11:53:18 PM »
Also, save a bunch of the larger juniper logs and have them sawn into lumber.  Envision cedar lined closets throughout your new house. :)
"I don't feel like an old man.  I feel like a young man who has something wrong with him."  Dick Cavett
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Offline Kevin

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Re: First time chainsaw owner seeks land clearing advice.
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2006, 07:41:51 AM »
Watch where the nose of the bar is at all times and keep it clear of branches.
In real thick stuff the bar nose could easily touch something you can't see and kick back.
A clearing saw is safer to use on the small stuff.

Offline thecfarm

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Re: First time chainsaw owner seeks land clearing advice.
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2006, 08:00:44 AM »
Welcome to the Forum.Glad to have you here.An escape route away from the tree is very important.That size saw should do you fine.From what I read,I take it this is your first time around a saw?I hope you can find someone that will give you some tips on using and taking care of your saw.Keep reading and finding infro on here.Goodluck.
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Offline estiers

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Re: First time chainsaw owner seeks land clearing advice.
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2006, 08:27:05 AM »
How about ALWAYS WORK WITH A PARTNER ???
Erin Stiers
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United States Department of Agriculture

Offline Woodhog

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Re: First time chainsaw owner seeks land clearing advice.
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2006, 10:56:35 AM »
I am not familar with the type of trees you are cutting but it sounds like a lot of small diameter
branches..
Your saw is new and the chain will stretch very quickly.. you want to make sure you keep the
chain tight on the bar as the small branches will tend to roll the chain off the bar if they get caught in the chain, this will causse the chain to fly off and it can hit you. Can also damage the chain/bar saw etc....
Chain saws and small trees/branches dont work well together....

Make sure its oiling good...

When you get tired stop for a while, when you get over tired thats when things go downhill fast when using a chainsaw...
Touch up the filing on the chain with each tank fill up...
Have lots of hot fun....

Offline Onthesauk

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Re: First time chainsaw owner seeks land clearing advice.
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2006, 11:12:35 AM »
Seems like most of the people I know who have had accidents or hurt themselves did it late in the day when they were tired and they were in a hurry to finish something. 
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Offline rebocardo

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Re: First time chainsaw owner seeks land clearing advice.
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2006, 04:07:06 PM »
I started with an ax and a 30" Swedish bow saw. When learning to do notches and such, I recommend using a sawzall and 12" pruning blade and practicing on small 4" trees. Once you have the feel of angles and such, start with the chainsaw.

Use wedges!

Use a cant hook with a timber jack!

Personally, there are few trees anymore that I do not wrap a chain around, before I put my saw into it, to help prevent a barberchair. I rather spend an extra 60-120 seconds and save my head. If a tree is over 4" or leaning it gets a chain, except maybe cedar. SOP even with lot clearing.

Carry a cellphone or CB .

First aid kit handy. If you cut off a major body part, you are not going to make it 100 feet to the truck without stopping the blood. I wear zipoff boots and socks, sometimes two pairs of socks. So, they make quick and dirty bandaids.

Take care of the slash/tree tops right away. If you drop 10+ trees all on top of each other, all you have is an accident waiting to happen while working alone. Plus, if left for more then a few days, the critters move in.

What I do when there are a lot of bushy pine/cedar type trees close together with branches from the ground up, is go through the area with a pole chain saw and cut off all the limbs to seven or so feet high. Besides keeping the butt off the ground so I can get a cable under, I avoid taking an eye out or using a big chainsaw to lop off small limbs (a hazard at waist and head height) or catching myself on a branch from another or the same tree when trying to move away when the tree starts to fall.






Offline Sprucegum

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Re: First time chainsaw owner seeks land clearing advice.
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2006, 09:28:24 PM »
I am guessing you are aiming for a park - like setting under the tall oaks.

What are your plans for the stumps?
Will you cut them high so you can pull them out? Will that harm the oak root system?
If you cut them low will they rot out in a couple years? Will they regenerate into multi-stemed monsters?

I know nothing of the trees you are working with, I live with spruce & poplar, these are some questions that have come back to haunt me after I cut a swathe through my kingdom  :D

Any question you have about anything under the sun has an answer tucked away in this forum  8)

Offline Phorester

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Re: First time chainsaw owner seeks land clearing advice.
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2006, 10:10:28 PM »

When cutting small branches, there's a tendency for an inexperienced operator to think you don't need much throttle.  You don't need to cut a 1/2" diameter branch at full throttle, but go into every thing you cut at least half throttle.  Any slower and you risk getting the chain caught. 

Remember, it doesn't matter how little experience you have with a chainsaw.   When you start one up, you have just entered into the most dangerous job in the USA.  You have just become a logger.  Be very careful.
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Offline wassaw

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Re: First time chainsaw owner seeks land clearing advice.
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2006, 03:15:33 PM »
keep in mind that a tree can start off in one direction and twist on the way down ending up where it and gravity wants it to be not anywhere close to where you planned for it to go

Offline Cedarman

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Re: First time chainsaw owner seeks land clearing advice.
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2006, 07:07:55 AM »
I would hire a person who had a skid steer and a big tree shear to clip the ashe juniper at ground level.  The cost per hour is not that high compared to the amount of work that can be done.  It depends on how hilly your ground is as to how well a skid steer can get across your land.  Once the trees are cut, then you can go in with a chain saw and cut out any logs that might be useful.

In the area that we have cut ashe juniper, many of the trees had multiple stems making them very tough to cut down with a chain saw and save the log.  Most of the time they are cut at 2 to 3 feet above the ground, then the rest is cut at ground level.  This is how it is done on federal land by cutting crews. We have always used shears.

Another way is for a skid steer with a Marshall saw to cut them at ground level.  This saw  is not bothered by sand or rock if operated properly.

If you do use your saw on all of them, start with a small one and work your way up to the larger trees.  If they have multiple stems, they will pinch your saw like a vice if you cut from the outside in.

Let us know how things go.
I am in the pink when sawing cedar.

Offline Randall

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Re: First time chainsaw owner seeks land clearing advice.
« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2006, 01:55:13 PM »
I used to live in Fredericksburg so I know a little about that "Texas Cedar". Make sure you pull the stumps also or they'll come back worse then before. If you burn a pile after it gets dry it will go off like a bomb. Also, you might leave a few; they look pretty good if you trim the bottom branches so they look like a real tree.

Offline Ironwood

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Re: First time chainsaw owner seeks land clearing advice.
« Reply #16 on: August 01, 2006, 12:33:58 AM »
Currently I am using a friend's JD 440 skidder to clear some old fence rows and feild edges. My GOD does this thing rip out some trees and small brush.  The front blade pushes them over up high then I back up and push the root s out. Talk about a time saver! I have rented and run all sorts of equipment this thing is the cats meow for clearing and pushing. I have access to all sorts of equipment and I think this "fit" is best for the job. Agile, heavy , and powerful. I would not even consider any thing other than a dozer or skidder for what I am doing. I think the skidder is best for my terrrain and the situation. I owe my buddy big time for this help.


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Offline Cedarman

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Re: First time chainsaw owner seeks land clearing advice.
« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2006, 06:53:42 AM »
Ashe Juniper is like ERC in that it will not resprout after cutting.  The Pinchot (redberry juniper) will resprout.  The redberry is more toward the foothills of the Rockies.

But if you leave one green limb, even a small 3" twig that has needles, the tree will most likely live.  If you cut oaks, they will resprout like crazy, so the stump must come out or a chemical used on the stump.
I am in the pink when sawing cedar.

Offline Texas Aaron

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Re: First time chainsaw owner seeks land clearing advice.
« Reply #18 on: August 03, 2006, 12:27:15 AM »
Thanks ya'll for the advice, you guys are awesome!  All of the info I read on the forum really helped give me the confidence and knowledge I needed as a first time chain saw user.

I cut down around fifty trees this past weekend without any problems.  I have 420 feet of frontage on a canyon and I cleared about half of the edge and down the slope so there are no longer any Junipers blocking my view.  All that remains are lots of stumps and huge piles of brush.  It was 100 degrees all weekend and I have never sweated that much in my life.  I took plenty of breaks and drank two gallons of water each day.  I had my dogs with me the first day, but they were panting so hard from the heat I thought I might lose them to heat stroke.  Even my wife helped by dragging the brush into piles.  Her forearms look like she got in a fight with a box full of kittens.  Most of the Junipers were small but it seemed like each had eight trunks close to the ground.  It was tough squeezing in there to get the first few,  those dried dead branches tend to poke you.  I got plenty of practice before I cut a few of the really old ones down.  I felt bad cutting down so many trees, it really looked like a massacre afterwards.  I left all of the oaks and a few of the better looking Junipers for now, they can stay until we site the house.  I still have many trees on the canyon edge that have to go and then I am going to clear a road through the property.  I was considering chipping the debris, but there is so much it seems like it would be easier to burn everything.  I will have to wait a couple of months for some wet weather and the burn ban to end.  After that I am going to cut all of the stumps level with the ground.  The earth is all limestone here so pulling stumps seems like it would be really tough, and I don't want to scratch the hell out of my truck giving it a try.  It seems like everyone I know cuts them level with the ground and forgets about them.

I love my little husky, that saw cuts like a champ.  Anything bigger would have been dead weight.  I keep the hammer down and it just buzzes right through all the small brush.  I kept the tip away from everything and it did not kick back once.  I notched almost everything except the really small stuff.  The only thing I had to look out for was the effect of gravity while limbing and bucking, otherwise the blade might bind.  Thanks again for all of the help!!!

Offline rebocardo

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Re: First time chainsaw owner seeks land clearing advice.
« Reply #19 on: August 03, 2006, 04:23:00 AM »
always great when you can do it yourself  :)


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