Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Community of Interest › Events › Open Woods Day Report – Includes discussion of managing lines, and tree felling
- April 4, 2009 at 2:14 am #51181OldKatParticipant
Informative stuff. Thanks guys.April 5, 2009 at 1:20 pm #51161
Joel and other DAP folks,
No sir, you are not getting it.
The four cut hinge and latch method is the most important technique I have ever learned in developing the skills to do this work safely for the operator and to be gentle on the residual timber.
I have written many descriptions of this felling technique in the past and we have a chart with step by step directions but can’t get the file to open at the moment, so I did a search on Game of Logging and came up with the photo display from Yale at the address below. Maybe this series of photos will make it easier to see how this works.
This method was an Epiphany for me when I first saw it. It was an “aha” moment where understanding was a clear delightful experience. Again, I think this method is best learned in an instructional setting as part of the understanding of the reactive forces of chain meeting wood and as a development of understanding and using those reactive forces to create a controlled procedure to fell and buck or cut trees into logs. It is very different from the Humboldt or what we call the Hillbilly stump jump felling method.
It is amazing that so many folks that work in the woods don’t know this method since it is being promoted by the professional trainers at the “Game of Logging” school and many state forestry departments. That statement is not a criticism of anyone or any region, because it seems to be the same everywhere.
In Virginia there is a serious effort by industry to resist “licensed logging” or over regulation of one of the largest industries in the state. The inclusion of this timber felling method in all training courses does reduce insurance cost, by reducing accident rates and therefore operating cost as mentioned earlier. This may lead to another thread?
I also understand how it is hard to teach old dogs new tricks, for I was an old dog that had been running a chain saw since I was a kid and thought I knew enough to get the job done and not get killed in the process. I didn’t.
However, when I first read about Soren Erikkson and his “Game of Logging” course the one main thing that made me attend was a statement Soren made to the effect of: “The main reason he wanted to come to America and teach his techniques was to share and increase the ‘dignity’ of being a woodsmen”. That got my attention. He went on to say that being a woodsmen in Europe was a reveled honored profession that was seen as a serious important occupation not done or capable of being done by just anyone. After meeting him and attending his training he also was very supportive of the horse logging we were doing and said that in his country there were certain public lands that were only allowed to be logged with animals by law. Attending this course changed my life through developing these chainsaw skills particularly when added to modern draft animal powered techniques and restorative forestry silviculture that we promote and practice.
Since that time we have trained hundreds of folks in the Swede cut timber felling methods along with his forces of the bar principles and it has surely
increased safety to many folks working in the woods.
Hope this photo series are helpful. We also have detailed video demonstrations of this technique on our Chronicles of the Biological Woodsmen DVD and in several other videos we have produced. Again attending a course is not usually free. So spend the money and invest in your own safety/skills if you are going to do this work.
You may be able to do some other searches to find out more about this method of timber felling.
I too am close to retirement and one of the most rewarding things about my work is all the young people that have came through my life and are continuing this work. The good horses I have had the pleasure to work with are pretty satisfying also.April 5, 2009 at 5:07 pm #51170Does’ LeapParticipant
I concur with Jason’s assessment of Game of Logging. It has made me much safer and more effective in the woods. It is also an excellent compliment to horse logging b/c you can’t just push the tree over with a skidder or tractor. Highly recommended.
GeorgeApril 5, 2009 at 5:55 pm #51178near horseParticipant
The way I see it the big difference is using a bore cut instead of a back cut on the side opposite the wedge. This bore cut allows the sawyer to leave “the latch” – a piece of wood still intact directly opposite the wedge cut. Plastic wedges are driven into the bore cut on each side of the latch. To fell the tree, the latch is cut out and the tree falls in the direction of the wedge cut.
My questions: how much latch do you leave? Is the bore cut completely horizontal – like a standard back cut – or does it also have a pitch to it?
This might be old information but – do you cut your wedge cut so that it comes off the stump rather than the log? Essentially, the angled cut is the bottom of the wedge not the top. When you see stumps from this type of felling they have an angle on them from the wedge.
I do like the safety factor of the 4 point cut.April 5, 2009 at 6:00 pm #51179near horseParticipant
I just looked at the Yale site again and it appears that they cut 60 degrees out of the log and 30 degrees from the stump. Jason, why don’t they/you use a horizontal for one of these 2 cuts? Can you explain the advantage(s)?April 5, 2009 at 11:33 pm #51162
Well, I may have to go back and look at what the Yale folks were doing too.
This is something best taught in person, on site. I may not be able to explain it well enough, coming to the woods is the best way.
There are variations on this method but the four cuts are usually about the same – in order and purpose. First let’s get terms clear.
The wedge piece of the tree is actually called the “open face“. The portion removed during the first two cuts, that create the open face and front of the hinge.
There is a line across the top and side of every brand of commercial sized chainsaw. It is at a right angle to the bar. This line is your aiming sight. When you follow this method the tree will fall in the direction the line is pointing (usually).
When making the first cut, the 60 degree one that goes about 10% through or into the tree cutting downward actually establishes the front edge of the hinge, you have sighted the line to be sure it is pointing where you want the tree to go.
We like to keep the open face shallow and have as much hinge as possible in the sapwood and as little of the valuable wood removed. So the second cut we use Geoff is horizontal or flat. The cuts meet as the second is made while looking into the first cut so the cuts can be matched up and level if you want the hinge to break when the tree falls, or the open face closes. The only reason to cut up on the second cut is if you wanted the to hold the tree to the stump all the way to the ground, like on a hillside and you didn’t want it to move away from the stump.
Now the third cut is a bore of plunge cut that is starting using the plunge force part the bar (lower edge of tip) and then cut so as to establish the back of the hinge at the appropriate width to control the tree without cracking the log or making a barber chair. Usually a hinge is about 1 1/2 inches on a straight poplar for instance. Before making the third cut or any cuts, an escape route is cleared off at a 45 degree angle from the safe side. Stick to the procedures… Each tree is a planned out process and done in a certain order.
But this third cut is also made as part of a procedure that accesses the safe and danger sides of the tree and the high and low hazards. The safe side is the side away from where the lean is or crown weight or the direction the tree would most like naturally want to fall because of it’s individual shape…. So the third cut is made and on most harvestable sized trees with a twenty inch bar you can cut about half way through. some folks plunge the bar all the way and work it back towards the hinge to establish a nice uniform width hinge. I find that much easier than controlling the saw to do all of those things at once, but some guys/people are definitely better than me. Remember I mentioned variations within a method.
So after you make your third cut, from the danger side, leaving at least half the tree and hinge still there, you drive your wedge (s) into the back of the tree exactly opposite of the hinge. Again this is a variation, I’ve seen people put their wedges closer to the hinge, but I like it in the back opposite of the hinge, so they are do the most to move the tree towards the direction of the open face.
Now that you have three cuts made the tree is standing with half the stem and hinge still intact. Go to the safe side, plunge the fourth cut in to establish the back of the hinge on that side and cut toward the back of the tree. The last remaining fiber on this cut is the latch that will hold the tree (usually – on a leaning tree it may break before you get cut all the way through, as in the video) and once completed the tree is ready to fall. If it is a nice balanced straight tree, the wedge inserted on the third cut keeps the tree from setting back on your bar and you can drive the wedge in and tip the tree toward the open face. Sometimes it may take more than one wedge and in some case multiple wedges and there are tricks to doubling up on wedges to get them to lift without jumping out. Place the doubled up wedges at a 90 degree angle with each other and they will stay in for driving and lifting the tree toward the open face. As the tree begins to fall, walk away five steps at a 45 degree angle and look up at a 45 degree angle to look for debris being thrown back from the canopy and flying up from the ground. Wait at least five seconds (count – 1001,1002,1003,1004,1005) before walking back to the tree to cut it into log lengths or limbing.
Obviously each tree is an individual, having characteristics of their own and using this technique with variations will work to have a safe controlled felling. Practice makes perfect so the more you do this the better you get.
Not only do we take the worst individual trees first, we go to the back part of the job to start and work back toward the landing so the brush is left behind us and we have less cleaning up the skid trails along the way to get the logs to the roadside or landing, sawmill site or next step in the process of turning them into money…
Hope this helps, sorry for the delay in finishing it, this is not easy to explain in words compared to actually doing it in the woods with someone right there to watch. Many folks learn best from seeing and that is a good way to teach this skill as well as horsemanship.April 6, 2009 at 4:45 pm #51169Rick AlgerParticipant
Speaking for myself, not Jason or Soren, I take the wedge out of the log because I cut my stumps at just about ground level.
I don’t lose scale because I cut the wedge out of the first 10 % of the stump’s diameter. I don’t go in a third like we used to do – just cut off the butt flare and a little bit more. I don’t get barberchairs because I cut the wedge at around an 85 degree angle, and I leave a thin hinge.April 7, 2009 at 1:06 am #51163
You’re getting it.
The back (or plunge to establish the back of the hinge) cut is exactly level with the second cut. Sometimes we even drag the bar along the second cut and go right in behind the open face so we can keep it level all the way through. The wedges force the tree over along with lean or crown weight, so the cuts being matched all way through are part of how folks were graded or scored in the original training.
Since the log is bought by the small end diameter measurement, cutting low stumps is the way to make your logs a big as possible at salable log length. (We even have a country music radio station down here that has a dj called Cut Low Stump. We think he may have been an old logger…)
The conventional foresters advise cutting as low as possible because they see the best coppice regenerated spouts come off low stumps. Those stump sprouts turn out better logs with less pistol grip shapes on the butt end. All hardwoods sprout from the stumps, to my knowledge only one soft wood..redwoods.
Regeneration of the forest is another thread maybe..
The GOL educational course, (at the time I took it) was sponsored by several suppliers. So there was a reward given for the most accurate cut – after each individual cut was made. They scored the accuracy of every step and gave a piece of equipment for the winner in each phase and step. At the end the guys with the highest score total won Chainsaws, other good scores were given chains, files, personal protective gear etc. Pretty cool, gets the participants to paying close attention. Wish I could afford to teach it with those same free tool reward system.
The course cost was the best money I have ever invested in my education.April 16, 2009 at 3:48 pm #51180dominiquer60Moderator
I’ve been meaning to reply to this one for a while now, but every time I went about searching for this thread I was distracted by weeks worth of discussions that I hadn’t read yet.
The Healing Harvest Foundation and the Biological Woodsmen, Woodswomen and well broke teams that the foundation helps to produce are an asset to our communities. I had not given animal powered logging much thought until I heard Jason give his Keynote speech at the first NEAPFD. Then I saw the health of Carl’s woodlot, attended the second NEAPFD and the Low Impact Forestry workshop in Maine. Recently I was invited to stop at Jason’s farm on my migration north. Getting to know Jason and the HHF through DAP has been a great experience for me, but getting to meet everyone and the Suffolks was a truly worth while visit.
Unfortunately I missed the Open Woods day, but I met Jason, his son, the HHF apprentices and the herd. The HHF crew do a wonderful job at preserving the culture of working with animals in the forest and making a living at it. Taking a few days to tag along with these folks on the farm and in the woods was a great way to decompress and get some more details about forest management that is easier to absorb on sight. For anyone on the fence about taking the opportunity to learn more about modern animal logging and the forest, there is nothing like getting your nose out of your book or keyboard and finding an experienced person to learn from. I have no intentions of becoming a animal powered logger, but If I can find the time to attend one of Jason’s workshops, I know I will be able to gain some valuable skills that I can use in my future woodlot. There is a great quote about how a good farmer plants trees even though he will never be around to see them bare fruit, I am sure that a similar thing could be said about
Biological Woodsmen and the restorative “worst first” method.
Some talk about a hero as being a person that prevents or stops crime, but I find subtle qualities of a hero in people that take on young folks and through education and the creation of responsibility eliminate the possibility of crime with good honest culture. Thank you Jason, HHF and all the other Biological Woodsmen for taking the time to spread culture to others, especially young folks.
Further more thank you everyone that takes part in preserving and continuing our animal powered culture, our future depends on the use and spread of such knowledge and experience.
ErikaApril 20, 2009 at 3:27 am #51172AnonymousInactive
This post is delayed a bit, but I only check in now and again when I’m missing the horses…
I enjoyed the discussion on lines and hand position and have to say that I used techniques much like Carl described. Its especially useful when you’re ground skidding and manuevering around to hook up to a log, making a sharp turn, or backing up. I held the lines in one hand using Carl’s method and would be able to pick up the evener by the tongs or chain and move alot more quickly. It takes some dexterity between your thumb and fingers to alternate line pressure to determine if the horses back straight, or right or left. Horses that respond to voice commands certainly help, of course.
I have a comment or two to add about the tree-felling in the u-toob clip. I agree wholeheartedly with all the positive things being said about the cutting methods taught by Soren Erickson that Jason refers to. I definitely had an epiphany moment when I went to my first chainsaw safety class teaching those methods, and I think I’ve been to 8 of em total and I learn new stuff every time. Ken Lallemont is a standout instructor from here in Wisconsin, and he trained with Soren and is active with the game of Logging.
Like Jason said, these are techniques probably best learned and discussed out in the field, hands-on, but I had a couple of observations from my training and experience that may or may not apply to the particular tree that was dropped in that footage. The way I learned was that the technique is predicated on an “open-faced” notch, so that the hinge doesn’t close until the tree is on or nearly on the ground. I go by at least a 70% open-faced notch. Generally its best to make that notch as steep as possible, so you’re not getting too deep into the butt log and you dont get deeper than the flare of the butt log. As has been said already, that generally isn’t a problem in hardwoods, and probably still wasn’t on this tree. My hinge was determined by length, calculated by 80% of the dbh of the tree, meaning that on a 20″ dbh tree you’d want a hinge at least 16″ in length. The width of the hinge would generally be 10% of dbh then I could make an adjustment to that depending on the lean of the tree, species, condition, etc. If it had side lean from where I wanted it to go, I might leave the hinge a little thicker. If it had forward lean (like the tree in the clip did) I would leave the hinge more narrow, since that tree was gonna go that way anyway. I might have even clipped the first 10 years of growth of that tree on either side of the hinge, and that might have helped with preventing the mini-barber chair we saw, since the most recent growth is the strongest holding fiber of the tree. Again, that tree was going that way anyway.
There’s another thing I did that might have made that stump a little cleaner, especially on a forward leaner. You could see on the clip that the holding wood in the back broke and the tree started to go before he really got his saw out of there. Ken Lallemont had a trick he prescribed for this type of situation. After bore cutting and setting up my hinge, as Jason describes, I think, I would move toward the back, as we saw when the video started. About the time in the video that you can hear somebody yells something, or even a bit before that, I might have stopped my back cut and pulled my saw out. Then I’d go from the back, a few inches below the bore cut, and cut from the back parallel and below the bore cut, until reaching it. The fibers on the tree will pull when the cuts bypass, and just that little bit of friction gives you a little fraction of time to be retreating on your escape route, and to not be there wrestling to get your saw out of the tree without the chain break on. Does anybody else do this?
I know I wasn’t there, and I’ve only cut white, burr, swamp, red, black and pin oak, but never chesnut oak. So who knows if this would have made a difference. I’m mostly wondering if anybody else uses similar tricks on forward leaning trees.
Thanks for the photos, clips and knowledge, folks.April 20, 2009 at 1:06 pm #51164
Good to see you back on the site here. Are you still pursuing your masters in Forestry and NRM?
I just responded to a online recommendation for a former apprentice that is going back to forestry school at Va. Tech for his master’s. He want to focus on the alien invasive botanical problem in the forest here. If accepted we will have two in the grad program and we have one just accepted in the third year forestry program under graduate. There are a certain number of professors there that accept and support these environmentally sensitive students. Apparently they are able to include these students despite the industrial dominant paradigm folks entrenched there.
On felling a leaning tree. We often plunge the heart through the hinge as the third cut, which would make it a five cut method to be make sure the hinge doesn’t break off as this tree did. This makes it a door hinge and not a piano hinge. We also, when making the third cut in the normal four cut method will slide the saw bar from the bottom of the open face to cut the sap wood to prevent it from ripping a strip of wood up the log, which you mention. This is particularly effective on white oak, which is real tough in that way. Since these leaning trees are going that way anyway it is good to get them down without causing any manufacturing defects by the felling operation.
It seems the most important thing about this thread is the introduction of a safe skilled timber felling course being available to folks in most parts of the country, which will make their work more fun…. and that is why most of us do this work – we enjoy it…
Thanks for posting man.April 20, 2009 at 5:03 pm #51171AnonymousInactive
For what its worth, Jason, I completed my Master’s work last fall, and have a MS in Forest and Wildlife Ecology. But its ain’t worth much in terms of forestry consulting, because I’m apparently not eligible to be a “cooperating forester” with the WI DNR, since I didn’t receive an undergraduate degree accredited with the Society of American Foresters (SAF), and don’t have enough coursework to make up the difference. I understand the need to have standards, but I think that accredidation should be based on passing an exam, as opposed to just finishing school from one of the old-boy clubs that are still cranking out too many non-critical thinking, whackem n stackem “foresters”. I think they’re afraid of seeing that some forestry schools aren’t producing graduates that are up to par, and they want to be able to control the type of practitioner they work with. I don’t understand why else there isn’t a merit-based test.
That said, I’m working for the DNR man, myself. Part-time in an office position, and the rest of the time I’ve been working on the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) surveys here in Wisconsin. It ain’t horse-logging, but I get to cut some trees and get back in the woods, and thats no small feat when you live in a ranch home on a cul-de-sac. This summer I will be chasing around a native wasp that preys on the EAB, trying to see if it can give us a better survey tool for finding new infestations of the beetle. This is serious stuff, and I think there is a real opportunity for small scale operators (DAP) to help deal with the imminent wide-spread loss of Ash thats coming. Don’t know how rosy the economics will look, but there are alot of small woodlots in this part of the country that are going to have dead stands of ash just sitting there, with not enough small-scale (read-approriate technology) operators to serve them.
I’m trying to be creative, and would love to get a chance to get back in the woods with horses, but haven’t figured out how to do that with a family situation that demands city life for right now. Anybody in Wisconsin that needs a teamster/feller and is willing to be creative should get ahold of me. I know of no work more rewarding than skilled forest management with horses, and I miss it, even if my back doesn’t.
Jason, you said, “It seems the most important thing about this thread is the introduction of a safe skilled timber felling course being available to folks in most parts of the country, which will make their work more fun…. and that is why most of us do this work – we enjoy it…”
Yep.April 21, 2009 at 1:36 am #51165
Yep, I was alerted to the SAF head em off in the canyon deal a few years back when Virginia lawmakers came up with a forester titling act, which outlawed calling oneself a forester or consulting forester without the same SAF approved undergrad baloney. Fortunately the alert (by a cool state forester) allowed me to use the grandfathering clause and submit an essay and submit to an interview which put me on a list beyond the SAF whack’em and stack’em list.
It is all aimed at development of laws that one day will only allow a tree to be cut when a “forester” declares it is appropriate…. Private property rights states don’t like that sort of cultural subversion, so to speak. This is not conspiracy theory paranoia, this is a historical fact as I experienced it.
This approach is not over, and will be a continued effort by the dominant paradigm. Last year for instance the DOF in NC tried to past a law that stated that even aged management was the only scientifically proven silvicultural treatment and was therefore the only practice acceptable for any public support of any kind….. Now that is industry corruption of the true public interest, which may be better protected by private property rights than battling industry controlled educational systems…. at least that is how we are experiencing it from out in the woods in Virginia.
Now, Wisconsin – I have lost some faith in. I used to think Madison was cool place and an area of open minds…. Then they arrest Amish for not registering their farms with NAIS even though it isn’t mandated federally… yet. And they are buying into the channelizing of credentials through group that behaves like an industry front organization like SAF.
The counter group to SAF is the Forest Guild, but they are very weak comparatively and have enough trouble keeping themselves going as a 501c3.
But frankly Mr. Saunders, I wish you were in Virginia, there is plenty of woods work in good quality forest, but the market is indeed weak today….which is another discussion in itself. Maybe over production could be a consideration, but probably not by SAF….
Enough venting, glad you are here (DAP) and hanging on to a connection with the woods.
I hope you don’t have to many student loans to repay…
We have one fellow in our group that has his masters from Duke and he will be paying for all of it for may years to come. He also got his undergrad from a non- SAF approved school… but is a practicing forester and a ground level practitioner of restorative forestry also.
Thanks for posting, stay in touch with the site and let us know what you think about whatever you see here or anywhere….
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