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View BentheViking's profile

Falling a tree

by BentheViking
posted 02-16-2012 03:55 PM


41 replies so far

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4524 posts in 1795 days


#1 posted 02-16-2012 04:03 PM

First, I assume you mean 6” in diameter (not 6” around).

I’ve cut trees that big down with a cordless reciprocating saw. A bow saw would also work fine.

You may have a risk of the tree falling into a building. However, a tree this small would do very little damage.

Make a wedge cut from the side that you want the tree to fall. The wedge should go 2/3rds of the way through the tree. Then cut into the wedge from the opposite side and stand back. Don’t forget to yell “TIMBER” as it falls.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

15712 posts in 2938 days


#2 posted 02-16-2012 04:08 PM

What Rich said!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View oldretiredjim's profile

oldretiredjim

182 posts in 1105 days


#3 posted 02-16-2012 04:35 PM

Whatever saw you use make sure the cut is slightly above the wedge or the tree can sit down on the saw blade. At that point it will want to come backward. For that small tree I would also cut at a slight downward angle. And understand that the upper branches can influence the way the tree falls including twisting. Before starting to cut anything make sure you know where your escape route is and make sure the route is clear. If you are unfamiliar with dropping a tree have a second person in the area observing the operation. That way if something goes not right there will be help available.

View crank49's profile

crank49

3481 posts in 1691 days


#4 posted 02-16-2012 05:09 PM

All good advice.
I have cut hardwood up to 16” with a 30” bow saw.
Had no choice, ice storm broke 12 big trees down across my drive way.
And, my chain saw was in town being serviced.

Don’t try this on a windy day.
If possible have a spare saw or sharp axe or hatchet handy in case the tree binds your saw in the cut.

-- Michael :-{| “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” ― A H

View jerkylips's profile

jerkylips

233 posts in 1290 days


#5 posted 02-16-2012 05:49 PM

another option, you should be able to rent a chainsaw at Home Depot. If you only need it a couple hours, I can’t imagine it would be more than $30 or so. Once the tree is down, you’ll probably want to buck it up too. I wouldn’t want to do all that with a bow saw.

So…..that said…..using a chainsaw isn’t rocket science, but if you haven’t used one before BE CAREFUL!!!!!!

View xwingace's profile

xwingace

204 posts in 1308 days


#6 posted 02-16-2012 11:29 PM

Remember, for a 30 foot tree, park your car at leat 35 feet away!
And yeah, whatever you do, be as safe as you can.

-- I'm not as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was.

View Loren's profile

Loren

7809 posts in 2368 days


#7 posted 02-16-2012 11:57 PM

Felling a small tree is not too difficult, but it will fall before you
cut all the way through it and it probably won’t fall exactly where
you’ve planned, so go carefully and give yourself room to run
away fast if the tree falls unexpectedly.

You can do it with a sharp axe without too much trouble. Felling
is done with notched cuts whether you use a chain saw or an
axe. As Rich said, you can do it with a reciprocating saw too.
Working with chain saws is best done after reading up about
them because as you know they can be dangerous if used
ignorantly.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

1241 posts in 1017 days


#8 posted 02-17-2012 12:01 AM

Stand under the tree and look overhead at the umbrella to see where the center of the mass is – if it’s not in line with the trunk, the tree will want to fall in that direction. If it’s in a direction you don’t want it to fall in, then pick up a felling wedge at HD or Lowes or Tractor supply. When you cut far enough into the trunk on your back cut, pound that wede in with a hammer or mallet to drive the tree where you want it to go. You don’t need to make a hinge cut 2/3 of the trees diameter, that’s overkill. A huge tree will stand upright on a 1 inch hinge, and won’t fall until you drive that wedge (look on youtube for ‘Game of Logging’ or for the proper procedure). If you are near an outlet or have access to a generator I would get a small electric chainsaw. You can cut up the wood with it afterwards for firewood or dinky turning blanks. Give yourself an escape path at a 45 degree angle BACK from the falling tree.

View allmyfingers's profile

allmyfingers

40 posts in 1366 days


#9 posted 02-17-2012 12:07 AM

quite simply,
DON’T CUT DOWN YOUR FIRST TREE BASED ON A DESCRIPTION OF HOW TO DO IT!!!
FIND SOMEONE TO COME BY AND DEMONSTRATE TO YOU HOW TO DO IT AND THEN HAVE THEM WATCH YOU DO IT.
YOU WOULD BE AMAZED HOW MANY THINGS CAN GO WRONG WITH A SIMPLE THING LIKE FELLING A TREE!

-- I cut it 3 times and it was still too short?!?

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

1241 posts in 1017 days


#10 posted 02-17-2012 12:58 AM

Allmyfingers makes a point. Look up ‘barberchair’ in logging terms and you’d be surprised at what could go wrong with a small tree. I wear chaps, a helmet with ear and eye protectionand kevlar gloves when using a chainsaw. Chaps are cheaper than a trip to the ER to get your leg sutured up. Find a friend who’s done it and give him the wood or some beer and gas money for his guidance/

View BentheViking's profile

BentheViking

1753 posts in 1284 days


#11 posted 02-17-2012 01:01 AM

Wow thank you everyone for the responses. Let me explain a little bit more about the trees. They are approx 6” in diameter and straight as an arrow. No branches or anything. Basically just a big long stick. I think that at some point I may try to use a recip to get through it. I’ve watched them cut down trees on Ax Men enough to have at least a bit of an idea about it and if worse comes to worse and it started to come down in the wrong direction I could just push it how where I want it.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View Scot's profile

Scot

344 posts in 2116 days


#12 posted 02-17-2012 01:18 AM

From your description of the trees, they may be rotten. The tops of rotten trees sometimes break off while falling and usually fall in the opposite direction of the rest of the tree.

Be very careful and don’t do it alone.

Now, you could redneck it like we do down here in Alabama.
1) Drink lots of beer before hand
2) Just before you start yell out, Hey ya’ll, watch this !
3) Call the paramedics

-- If the old masters had power tools, they would have used them. So get off your damn High Horse.

View allmyfingers's profile

allmyfingers

40 posts in 1366 days


#13 posted 02-18-2012 02:23 PM

ben,
i live in westchester too, and wouldn’t mind helping you out.

-- I cut it 3 times and it was still too short?!?

View KMT's profile

KMT

591 posts in 1383 days


#14 posted 02-18-2012 03:04 PM

If you have buildings and / or power lines nearby, hire someone to do this job.

-- - Martin

View Scsmith42's profile

Scsmith42

125 posts in 1397 days


#15 posted 02-19-2012 10:08 AM

Professionals refer to standing dead trees as “widowmakers” because of their propensity to rain chunks of dead wood down upon the feller, killing them.

-- Scott, North Carolina, www.quartersawnoak.com

View fussy's profile

fussy

980 posts in 1771 days


#16 posted 02-19-2012 10:52 AM

All the above advice is good. Given all the uncertanties, I would bite the bullet and call a tree service. At the very least, you should accept allmyfingers generous offer of assistance. You can learn more from one who has done it while preparing to do it than you can from the same guy whilst in a hospital bed AFTER attempting it. Caution is the greater part of valor.

Steve

-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View HalDougherty's profile

HalDougherty

1820 posts in 1957 days


#17 posted 02-19-2012 11:26 AM

Scott,

The local expression rednecks use around here is: “Hold my beer, and watch this!” You don’t want any beer to spill or be wasted if something bad happens.

-- Hal, Tennessee http://www.first285.com

View saddletramp's profile

saddletramp

994 posts in 1358 days


#18 posted 02-19-2012 12:34 PM

The one thing that I have learned about felling trees is that they are vengeful bastards. No matter where you stand when the tree comes down the butt end will always, repeat always try to spring back and take you out. When it starts to go do not stand there and admire your handy work, get the hell out of range at top speed.

-- ♫♪♪♫♫ Saddletramp, saddletramp, I'm as free as the breeze and I ride where I please, saddletramp ♪♪♪♫♪ ...... Bob W....NW Michigan (Traverse City area)

View SteviePete's profile

SteviePete

224 posts in 2023 days


#19 posted 02-20-2012 06:09 PM

Allmyfingers has it right in both posts. But I offer two additional options.

1. Give grandma a rummage sale hatchet and some encouragement.
2. Buy all equipment to do it properly. Saw—$300-900, Gas and oil $20, Safety Gear- $160-250, wedges, chains, lumber carrier, peavy, pickroon, extra chain, tuition for local VoTech Forestry Technology Course, 6 “adjustments” from the chiropracter, advil. $400+.

But think about all the adventure and stories you could tell at the barbershop. Pass the Red Man!

-- Steve, 'Sconie Great White North

View Elizabeth's profile

Elizabeth

811 posts in 1864 days


#20 posted 02-20-2012 06:29 PM

“if worse comes to worse and it started to come down in the wrong direction I could just push it how where I want it.”

I’ve never felled a tree but this doesn’t sound like a good idea to me…remember you can only push on the bottom part of the trunk, maybe six feet or so. Once that has been pushed out of the way, it seems like the top of the tree (all 24 feet of it) will be tilting the opposite direction and tree will fall straight down on top of you.

View jerkylips's profile

jerkylips

233 posts in 1290 days


#21 posted 02-20-2012 06:30 PM

@Elizabeth -

yeah, another “minor detail” is that while you’re pushing with one hand, you most likely have A RUNNING CHAINSAW in the other… ha!

View saddletramp's profile

saddletramp

994 posts in 1358 days


#22 posted 02-20-2012 08:10 PM

If you have never done it, it’s a bad idea to try it without the guidance and assistance of someone that knows what they are doing. If you are going to try it anyway, here is how I learned to do it:

and remember, as I said earlier, the butt WILL try to take you out so get out of the way.

-- ♫♪♪♫♫ Saddletramp, saddletramp, I'm as free as the breeze and I ride where I please, saddletramp ♪♪♪♫♪ ...... Bob W....NW Michigan (Traverse City area)

View Tennessee's profile

Tennessee

1515 posts in 1235 days


#23 posted 02-20-2012 08:32 PM

I’ve felled a lot of trees. I learned from a high-power lineman who worked for PA Power and Light for decades. A big part of his job was felling trees, and he gave me a really good lesson, after teaching me over a number of weekends, starting with ten foot tall trees in the woods.

Here’s the lesson…
Anytime you want to bring down about 1000 lbs or more to the ground with the wrong tool, make sure your insurance and will are up to date, and don’t forget to tell your wife and kids you love them.

Now, take you $80 recip saw and think twice about felling a half-ton of dead wood…twice….....

-- Paul, Tennessee, http://www.tsunamiguitars.com

View BentheViking's profile

BentheViking

1753 posts in 1284 days


#24 posted 02-21-2012 03:44 AM

I really appreciate all of your inputs. I have to say that after reading everything (a few encouragements, but many more warnings) I still feel like it is a project that I could tackle. There is nothing near for the tree to fall on so that is not a concern. Well other than falling on me, but really the things is so small I feel like it really couldnt do much to me. Or is this the trap the trees are trying to play on me?

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View xwingace's profile

xwingace

204 posts in 1308 days


#25 posted 02-21-2012 03:15 PM

6” diameter X 30 feet high = ~1,000 pounds of wood… I think that could do a lot to you!

-- I'm not as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was.

View WayneA's profile

WayneA

16 posts in 1025 days


#26 posted 02-21-2012 03:22 PM

Go for it. Take your time and have everyone leave the area, you do not need advice when cutting down a tree or have to worry that someone might be in the way of the fall. Make the first wedge cut and then the back cut on an angle and you should be okay. Considering it is a small tree I can assume that it is a younger tree? If you were closer I would run over and watch you cut them down! LOL

-- Wayne, New Hampshire

View HalDougherty's profile

HalDougherty

1820 posts in 1957 days


#27 posted 02-21-2012 04:39 PM

To ease your mind about the weight of the tree you are going to fell, you might want to visit this site:

http://www.woodweb.com/Resources/RSCalculators.html

The calculator you are looking for is “Estimated Log Weight Calculator” I ran it on a 6” diameter log, both thick and thin end” 30’ long and used Southern Red Oak as the species. The result was 341 lbs. Pine, cedar, or other soft wood would be even less weight. If I’d never cut a tree in my life, I’d tackle cutting a tree this size.

-- Hal, Tennessee http://www.first285.com

View Bearpie's profile

Bearpie

2591 posts in 1738 days


#28 posted 02-21-2012 05:02 PM

Is it down yet? Hurry up already! We are all anxious to hear your report!

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Elizabeth's profile

Elizabeth

811 posts in 1864 days


#29 posted 02-21-2012 05:03 PM

Hal, does that calculator account for water weight, and is there likely to be much water weight in an apparently dead tree?

View Brandon's profile

Brandon

4145 posts in 1672 days


#30 posted 02-21-2012 05:50 PM

You should video tape this for us all. :-)

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View Grandpa's profile

Grandpa

3193 posts in 1396 days


#31 posted 02-21-2012 07:28 PM

Make the cuts just like saddletramp has in the sketch. Watch that tree and be ready to exit post haste. you can abandon a saw if necessary. Never run with a saw. I have cut trees this size and much larger. They can hurt you but like most things if you watch what you are doing you will be okay. These should be good learner trees. If you use a chain saw remember this: they have 2 handles and they mean for you to have a hand on each handle. Always!!

View HalDougherty's profile

HalDougherty

1820 posts in 1957 days


#32 posted 02-21-2012 07:42 PM

Elizabeth,

Dead trees can be as wet as any other tree, or as dry as a post, depending on how long the tree has been dead, what species of tree it is and the environment around it. I’m sure the calculator is set for live trees with a full moisture content. Either way, a 6” diameter pole won’t weigh very much.

Last week I cut some ash trees that were 32 to 34” in diameter. I got 3, 12’ logs from each tree. It has made some beautiful lumber.

-- Hal, Tennessee http://www.first285.com

View exelectrician's profile

exelectrician

1711 posts in 1147 days


#33 posted 02-21-2012 07:48 PM

Is it down already? Or are you in ER? You have every body sitting on the edge of thier seats, waiting for the sequel.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View BentheViking's profile

BentheViking

1753 posts in 1284 days


#34 posted 02-22-2012 10:40 PM

I’m liking all of the encouragement. I haven’t had a chance to do things yet (Spent my days off this week celebrating Mardi Gras). Maybe I will have a chance next week.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View DS's profile

DS

2132 posts in 1140 days


#35 posted 02-22-2012 10:47 PM

We’re all just glad you’re not in traction at the hospital.
Let us know how it goes.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View woodcrafter47's profile

woodcrafter47

349 posts in 1825 days


#36 posted 02-22-2012 11:32 PM

Cut the little sapling down. I have cut a many that size in my brush lot no problems . Timber!!!!!
Get it done. !!

-- In His service ,Richard

View muleskinner's profile

muleskinner

719 posts in 1157 days


#37 posted 02-25-2012 03:40 PM

Boy, there’s a lot of handwringing over cutting down a little tree. Just make sure you keep an eye on the top of it. I think a bow saw would be just fine. I wouldn’t use an axe. The most common danger from a dead tree is the top snapping out of it. The vibration from striking it with an axe exacerbates the danger.

-- Visualize whirled peas

View BentheViking's profile

BentheViking

1753 posts in 1284 days


#38 posted 02-28-2012 06:59 PM

well i know a lot of you were wondering how this was going to go and well today was the day

It ended up being 6 trees between 20 and 35 feet high pretty much just straight shoots up between 4 and 7 inches in diameter. All of them were on the edge of the woods and there wasnt much in the area so it was relatively easy to pick where i wanted to cut them to and then drop them. Thank you very much to saddletramp who’s drawing was the final inspiration i needed to get this thing done. Gotta say I love the sound of the crack of the tree, but I think if I were to do this again I’d go out and get a chainsaw rather than struggle through with a recip saw. Overall nothing really scary happened other than at the intersection at the top of the hill during my project there was a bad car accident.

Thank you everyone for you support, tips, and cautions.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View Radu's profile

Radu

299 posts in 1763 days


#39 posted 02-28-2012 07:13 PM

What a relief. This was a “tense” thread over cutting down some little trees. What, the dumba$$ drivers were looking at you and started tweeting and bumped into each other? Thanks for the update.

View Danpaddles's profile

Danpaddles

540 posts in 1032 days


#40 posted 02-28-2012 07:27 PM

The guy who suggests using the bow saw- has bigger biceps than I. I am sure it could be done. and you could even get the log into smaller hunks with a bow saw. That is a lot of work though.

An electric chain saw might be just the thing for you. And you would not be the first to drop a tree with a reciprocating saw- they make suitable blades you know.

Give up the notion of pushing it around if you do not like the direction it is falling. Won’t work.

No one so far has suggested- get a rope on the tree, as high as you can set an extension ladder, or just past half way up. A LONG rope. Then get some person or persons to keep some tension on that rope. You can greatly influence the direction it falls that way.

I have dropped about a half dozen trees (once after a drunk neighbor came looking to borrow the chainsaw!). The last one dropped was not the largest. But it fell 90 degrees from where I wanted it to fall! On my carport roof. They can always surprise you.

Shortly after (before the mess was cleaned up) that I found out there was no oil in the mixed into the gas I had used, when filling the tank on my BRAND NEW chain saw. Wanna guess how we figured that out?

At the age of 54, I am willing to concede that there are some things I should now hire done. After the carport incident, which was immediately followed by the purchase of a brand new Stihl Farm Boss, dropping trees is now on that list. Unless I am in a bind, I am content to write checks for some things.

-- Dan V. in Indy

View muleskinner's profile

muleskinner

719 posts in 1157 days


#41 posted 02-29-2012 02:03 PM

Come on Dan, all that paddling has probably given you arms that put mine to shame.

It’s surprising how fast a nice sharp bow saw will go through a 6” tree. In fact, I envision bow saw vs reciprocating saw like John Henry vs steam hammer.

-- Visualize whirled peas

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