In yesterday's dramatic episode, Camille – the homeowner who’s Jacaranda mimosifolia street tree fell over due to fungal rot at the base – was very concerned about a whole host of things that might happen if she allowed me to cut up the tree and take a bunch with me. She was rather justified about some of it, perhaps much of it, but that didn’t help eager me, of course.
This morning, after waiting a whole day for the street crew to come by as promised, she’d had enough. Her gardener told her “Just let that guy cut it. He knows what he’s doing” That was kind, if wrong, of him. I’m very green with a chainsaw, but at least it’s only a 16” electric with an anti-kickback chain, and I know a little something about gravity, and where things want to fall. I’ve also read everything I can find on proper use, stance, grip, and methodology of felling, bucking, pruning, and whatever else I could find, and watched dozens of YouTube videos of people using chainsaws, and talking about proper care, usage, and maintenace. That’s no substitute for experience, but there’s also no experience without just getting out there and taking some risk.
I’m happy to report that after a bit over an hour of trimming, I am uninjured, and I damaged nothing in the area. It is rather hard to tell sometimes what a limb will do, so I did get half a dozen binds, some that I had to fight pretty hard to unstick, but it’s all part of experience. I also broke my new $80 limb saw. What a flimsy thing that was. I’m disappointed in Fiskars, and the thin plastic that gave out immediately on about the 4th cut. I’ll need to return it tonight.
I wore a hard hat, safety goggles, and tight clothing that wouldn’t fall into the saw, kept my eyes on where the cord was, keeping it untangled, with enough slack in case I had to move, and so limbs wouldn’t catch it and pull the thing out of my hand. I also kept areas around me clear in case I needed to jump back, or do a dive roll to get out of the way of anything big, but all of my guesses turned out pretty well, and there were no crazy snapbacks, or rollovers. Everything fell basically where and how I wanted. The reading and video watching paid off. Still it’s a bit nerve-wracking when you’re new, and in someone else’s lawn, right out by the road.
Here’s what I left behind:
My truck was pretty full, but moreover, I needed to get to work, and coming off a powerful headache and low sleep last night, waking up earlier than usual, and not eating or drinking anything, I got a case of mild heat stroke by the end, and had to sit in the car and wait for the blood to return to my head. I thought I would vomit. I’ve had that a few times in my life when I’ve, say, jogged too hard in the hot sun after a long period of non-exercise. It’s never fun. I still feel a little weak, but a quick shower before work, and slowly sipping on water all morning is restoring me to normal. Boy am I out of shape!
I couldn’t cut through the big stuff with a 16” chainsaw, but I gave it the old college try. I’m considering renting a 2’ gas-powered saw just for a few cuts, and will be properly nervous using it if I do so.
I did get a truck bed mostly full of some thick branches, though. They are really heavy for their size. This stuff must be incredibly wet:
After a quick shower, putting the saws away, I headed into work with what I’m calling an “arboreal flush.” I’m still feeling pretty beat up here. This sinks it. I’m getting back in shape. I’m tired of being too old at 31 to do things like cutting up a tree and loading a truck once.
At lunch I’m going to drag these out onto my driveway, and head back over to saw up a bunch more of the less-than-3”, greater-than-5” pieces in 6’ lengths to throw into the back of the truck. I think these will be great for small turnings on the lathe.
Hopefully the tree guys don’t show up and haul it all away while I’m at work today! If they do, no big deal. I did get quite a bit of free stuff to play with already.
-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator