Felling a 180 foot sugar pine

Bristlecone Pine

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They are so flippan cool. There is another that is usually found lower in elevation… One sec.

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More in that vein here at Fire Ecology.

Bristlecones are also some of the oldest living organisms.

Yea, replanting trees has it’s own issues. Any animal that called the environment home isn’t just going to sit by and wait for their ecosystem to recover.

And yea, sometimes there are forest fires - slow clap.

But again, kind of beside the point, I’m not sure why you’re even directing this at me.

Ha! I was gonna post that link :slight_smile: And I was thinking of the lodgepole, which is the variety I think was in an ancient Disney documentary.

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I will match your slow clap with a slow clap. I lived through the Spotted Owl ‘wars’, and if it taught me one thing it is that we truly are natures tenders. We get to decide what lives, what does, and what goes extinct.

So I will get sentimental about certain trees, but if it isn’t pushing a speciestowards the endangered list then it is the cost of doing business.

(And really we should be growing industrial hemp and fast maturing poplars, but that is a different conversation)

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Lumberjack YouTube is so last year. I’ve moved on the the Caber Toss corners, personally.

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I am off to play my second Scottish show of the day (music). I expect to see many… Cabers… Exposed.


Want to see the funny side of tree felling? go to youtube and type in “tree fail.” You’ll see drunken idiots in flipflops and no shirt use a chainsaw to drop trees on houses, vehicles, themselves. They seem to think one person with a rope can guide the tree in the proper direction. Waah!

I work as a gardener and often assist the tree crew on the campus where we w
work and there is nothing more important than professionalism and safety.


Sugar Pines are a sustainable, harvestable, resource. Similar to the kale, beets, and shallots which I just harvested to make dinner tonight.


“I wear headphones and listen to a recording of men cutting wood in a forest. The forest is wet and the men are fine workers.”
-Ernest Hemingway
(from: http://the-toast.net/2015/07/16/ernest-hemingways-six-month-appraisal-at-buzzfeed/ )

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Yes, ash likes to do that. But it is caused by improper cuts and can happen on any species. When the wedge is too small and the back cut is level with the front, the tree starts to go while the middle maintains structure. The front part of the tree falls, leaving the middle behind and voila: barber chair.

With proper cuts, you won’t get barber chair and there is something else. With proper arrangement of the wedge and back-cut, you can see the tree move as you get close to the middle with your saw. When you see the back cut open up, you can touch into the hinge gently until the tree really starts to go. There is plenty of time to see this happen and then cut power to the engine, take a couple steps backwards, always watching the tree.

Also, if you are paying attention, there is time to correct the falling trajectory by as much as 30 degrees from where the tree wants to go. When you see the tree start to tip, and if you are cutting the back cut directly downwards at the wedge, and the tree is straight or leaning towards the wedge (not askew or leaning into the back-cut, or overweighted by branches on the wrong side), then the tree will fall into the center of the wedge. If you don’t want it to fall there, you have one last chance to make it go a different angle by cutting into the OPPOSITE side of the hinge, causing the tree to redirect its fall to the other side of the wedge.

All of this is subtle and you can only really know it by cutting thousands of trees. And making mistakes. Oh yeah, I have made more than my share of felling mistakes. Lucky to have lived through some of them, by Jeebus.

Biggest tree I cut was a 200 year old Beech. Neighbors had logged their land next to mine, suddenly shedding a lot of sunlight on that old thing. Well, it had the blight and wasn’t long for the world anyways. Sunlight killed it for good. So it sat there up the hillside for a year. Its biggest branch fell off as I was getting into my car to go to work. I felt a rumble in the ground and hear a giant THWUMP! I threw my bag in the car and headed into the woods. Sure enough, the main branch, a 2 foot diameter thing, had snapped off and the gray, blighted snag of a 200 year old Beech stood there, missing its arm. What a pity. I thought, well you can stand here or you might fall over and take out my other trees, so I’m going to cut ya.

I let it sit another couple storms because I was busy. But one Saturday, I got a bug in my ass and I had to cut that old bitch down. So I got out my 30" bar, an old Jonsered from the 1970’s that barely ran. It spit sparks when I revved it and weighed damn near 40 pounds. I hated running that saw, but it was free from an old friend who was going to junk it because he couldn’t lift it anymore. I said I wanted it and he said take it.

So I got it sharp and went into the woods, tired just walking up there with the beast saw. The beech was 5 feet diameter. Or more. I have no idea how old, because the middle of it was punky and there was no way to guess how many rings. I cut into it and it was still good wood. I thought she’d rotted but she was fine on the outer 2/3. I chewed and chewed like a mad beaver for about 45 minutes, trying to cut a decent wedge. Well, my wedge looked like the Cheshire Cat’s grin, all wobbly-lipped like I couldn’t see straight to cut. That tree was too damn big for even a big bar saw!

I managed the wedge. I cut the back cut for about 30 minutes in dribs and drabs a little here a little there, and she finally went over. Biggest thwump I ever felt. Sent a shock right up my legs. It took me forever to get it cut up and hauled. Log story short, I was sad to cut it down. I was hoping it would have lived forever. And it might have made a fine roost, but it was just too big and had the blight and was infecting the other trees. It had to go. Sorry, old Beech. Thanks for keeping us warm.

Be careful cutting trees. It’s rewarding work, but you have to take care. It’s not child’s play.


Holy mole. Never cut a tree over, maybe 80 feet. 45 minutes to cut a wedge? I would never, ever attempt a job like that. The branches are as big as trees. And if you didn’t cut your wedge right it could shoot splinters at You large enough to kill… Well… You.

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I live in a state where if you aren’t ever diligent you’ll find pine trees growing up among the grass of your lawn. They will quickly overgrow unoccupied, unmaintained land. I dread having to deal with the full-grown ones at the edge of our property

Great big trees are awesome, but some of them have to come down sometimes - either from natural causes or through human intervention via woodlot maintenance. Fortunately others will eventually take their place…

It took me a while. The combination of tree size, being hard wood, steep hillside, crappy saw that I had to keep fussing with… just took a while to get into it. Never had a beech splinter like an ash- beeches tend to stay chunky and together, not go long and splintery when they shatter. Different crossgraining, I guess.

As for the guy in this vid, the wedge-it-to-death approach is one I rarely take. I’d rather cut my back cut up a couple inches and angle it down towards the top/back of the wedge. That way gravity does the work. This tree never opened up the back cut, because he cut it flat. So much work. If you are out all day, you need to find ways to save your back. Use an angled back-cut and lose, what? Two inches of the tree? I’d rather let the saw do the work. That’s what I’m paying it for, to save me from having to get out the ax.

All in all, though, he didn’t do badly. Tree fell. Intact without shattering. I’d say job well done.

My near-death story is pure stupidity. I was cutting a 6 inch birch that was under tension from other snags from a storm. Well, I cut into it at eye level and halfway in, it decided to POP. Well, the top half of it swung towards my face at high velocity, as it released tension from being bent. All I could do was limbo. I extended my running saw out in my right hand towards my right and my left hand flew left, my back bent backwards like Neo in the Matrix, and the top half of the birch swung clear of my face and teeth by a few millimeters. Then it hung there, snagged up at the top by other trees. That was close. I just turned off my saw and went inside, feeling dumb. And lucky. I let the wind knock that birch down, and it eventually did. Damn, so many don’t-do’s in that story.


Good thing he’s wearing that eye protection up on his forehead. Wouldn’t want his eyebrows to get injured. (effing idiot)


You like long and fascinating video of woodworking ?

You gonna love this one : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRFCxxAKafc

Hey, @japhroaig: this is more specifically what I was writing about. I figured it out intuitively after years of tree-cutting… here, it’s laid out by someone who actually describes what’s really going on. The page is saying don’t use the Dutchman. And of course we shouldn’t, but the Dutchman is your last-chance to correct the falling trajectory and sometimes it HAS to be used, and possibly sacrifice some of the timber quality. If the shit is going down, it’s gotta go down RIGHT.

Also, the guy in the vid may have been trying to fall the tree against its natural lean. He never showed us the top of that tree, so there is no way to know. It looked like it was straight, but cannot tell. That may be why he went to the trouble of all the wedging and why the wedges were so tight to drive.

And lastly, the comment about his goggles on his forehead. Yeah, that was funny, and I’ve had plenty of chips hit me in the face and even sneak around my glasses and go into my eyes, goddammit. It sucks. But mostly it doesn’t happen, so it’s not the primary concern.

A bigger safety issue is lack of chin strap on the helmet, or refusal to use it. Think about it. If you are falling or tripping because of disaster, then an unsecured helmet is also subject to gravity and will no longer be firmly affixed to your skull to protect it. And then when you finally hit the ground you have a bigger chance of having your head exposed to the tree that is coming to get you, or the rocks that you are falling onto. ALWAYS use the chin strap to keep that helmet on firmly.

I use a helmet with a wire mesh face mask. I find the wire mesh better than goggles or anything tightly fitting over my eyes. I can still wear my eyeglasses under the mesh faceguard and the wire is fine enough to stop anything coming off the tree and towards my face. Plus, most good helmets have built-in ear-protection that pops in and out of place as needed, like so:

And chaps:

My friend Leo at the chainsaw store years ago had an old pair of chaps hanging up behind the counter. They were OLD & dirty and had been chewed into by a chainsaw; the kevlar stuffing was coming out. They had a sign on them that said $1000.00. It was bait. I asked him, “Why a thousand bucks?” He said, “Because we know that pair works.”


If you buy and use wood products you must allow for some kind of logging. No sense demonizing the people who cut down the tree which may be part of your next piece of furniture.

The question then becomes “are these people logging in an environmentally responsible way which allows the forest an opportunity to recover rather than irreparably damaging the entire local ecosystem?” I don’t have an answer to that question without more context than the video provides, but at least they aren’t running a 19th-century-style-clear-cutting operation.

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Yes. These things take appreciation from all the aspects. In the 19th century, the work was all done by hand, no chainsaws and mechanization. Also, clear cutting 10,000 or 100,000 or even a million acres was not a big deal because there were always more acres and no shortage of trees to cut. When the acreage got more scarce, yet we continued to mow down the trees, that’s when the problems started, and then people decided it was a good idea to go mow down the tropical rainforests. Facepalm. But I can’t knock the 1800’s and early 1900’s for being what they were. People were doing what they needed to do at the time.

Now that we are on our 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation forests, I still do not see what the big deal is in cutting them sustainably. Sure, clearcuts are generally ugly. But if there is forest around a clearcut, and it’s left to regrow at its own pace, then the clearcut is actually beneficial to wildlife. Wildlife thrives in multi-stage growth of underbrush. When you have bare patches, scrub brush, young trees and older trees of different species, then you have a vibrant meadow’s edge. Everybody is getting some of what they need. That is GOOD for wildlife.

Clearcutting every goddamn tree in sight, scratching up the land and leaving oil spills is NOT sustainable. Clearcutting rare stands of trees or in sensitive areas is NOT sustainable. Clearcutting disproportionately to the amount of forest available in a specific geography is NOT sustainable. Cutting timber in areas where endangered and threatened species live is NOT sustainable practice. Cutting areas that frame beautiful vistas or are historically important is NOT sustainable. The list goes on. But after all those don’ts, there is plenty of land left on which to cut and regrow timber sustainably. I’m all for that.

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