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Felling cuts - level or diagonal cut first?

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Bounce

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I know it's been talked about before, but bear with me on this, I can be slow on the uptake. When I make a directional felling cut, I always start with the level cut first and then finish with the diagonal cut. I do this whether I'm making a traditional notch or Humboldt. The main reason I do this is because I can use the gunning sights on the saw so much easier to be precise with the direction. It also means that when the wedge is finally freed up it is under the bar, not on top of it which might cause a kickback. I worked with a guy last weekend who saw me do this and completely freaked out like I was about to kill myself. For the life of me I just can't figure out any benefit to making the diagonal cut first and finishing with the level cut, and my friend was unable to explain it so I could understand. What do you guys do and why?

Burnham and Gerry - I'm hoping you'll chime in here as you have more years of experience cutting trees down than I have dressing myself.
 

sotc

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i make my level cut first weather its a humbolt or conventional. reason being i can make my saw level first and then gun it whre i want. if you make the angle first you have gun it first and level it second. the other way is much easier for me
 
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BostonBull

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Diaganol too, you can look down throught he diagonal cut while making the flat cut so theres no bypass. My $.02
 

gf beranek

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All things being equal, on the ground, for straight standing conifers it's the level undercut first..., for me.

Trees with side lean I always keep the undercut square to the trunk. With minor exceptions for demonstration purposes only.

Either way a square or level undercut sets the base line for my diagonal and back cut to follow.

Like Bounce says, " Trying to sight the gun with the diagonal is more difficult than on the horizontal."

Now up in the tree it's a different thing, I back-chain a lot of my face cuts when topping the tree from a right lateral position. It's just easier and blows the chips out the far side of the cut. But sometimes I will start with a diagonal. Sometime it's the arrangement of knots that I have to place the cut between that makes me start with the diagonal, but sometimes not. In that case it's just what ever feels right, or easier for me.

Now if it's going to be a squeeze to fit the top in a tight spot I will use the gunning sights and generally square and level the cut to the stem. However, as some of you may wonder about that, sighting to the horizon for a top to land in a space below requires a bit of trained eyeball to be truly accurate.

I'm really not strict on any firm rules in this business, because trees don't conform to strict rules either. However, when it comes to safety that's another thing.

There's much more to it than any single person knows!
 
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Bounce

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Ok good. Glad to know I wasn't missing something huge here. This guy just made it sound like there was some tremendous safety advantage to making the diagonal cut first. Maybe he was talking about it being easier to avoid cutting to far with the second cut because you can look down the diagonal. I think I'll keep on doing what I have been just because I'm more comfortable with that, but I like Gerry's point about trees not conforming with any rules. Best to be flexible I guess.
 

Bodean

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There are people here at work that dump trees with the diaganol cut first.

I've never seen that before working here.

Horizontal undercut first here.
 

CurSedVoyce

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Pends on my "feeling" after I have read and talked to the tree and set up my fall line ... sounds funny I know ... But hey.. Its like sayin a prayer and things turn out alright....
Every tree is different......
 

TC3

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I like doing the diagonal cut first 'cause it freaks customers out. Mind you I do tiny removals, no bigger than my Silky can handle... but have taken out up to 10" diameter. People get that really worried look on their face... lol
 

Old Monkey

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I am Forest Service trained so I start with the horizontal cut first for all the reasons mentioned by all the sensible posters above. Doing the diagonal cut first is different and wrong and must opposed right thinking people.
 

stig

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This is really interesting!
I've always assumed that it was a geographical difference, that in North America they cut the horizontal first and in Europe the diagonal.
Now I find out that it is more of a personal preference.

Personally I do the diagonal first( being europaean!!). As for using the sighting or gunning lines on the saw, after 30+ years of falling, I simply look where I want the tree to fall when I start cutting, and that is where it falls.
Kind of like shooting a handgun instinctively by just pointing it at the target without really aiming. I can feel when I've got it lined up.
 

Thor's Hammer

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I am Forest Service trained so I start with the horizontal cut first for all the reasons mentioned by all the sensible posters above. Doing the diagonal cut first is different and wrong and must opposed right thinking people.
Bleagh. thats a nasty stinky sucky way of doing it. I'm going to get the UN to make you change your ways.
 
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Blinky

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Usually do the diagonal first since it's easier to avoid a bypass... but I wouldn't want to be opposed by right thinking gummint trained folks. I guess I'll try it the other way for a while and see what happens.
 

Old Monkey

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Bleagh. thats a nasty stinky sucky way of doing it. I'm going to get the UN to make you change your ways.
You are such the tattle tale. Next time mom leaves us alone in the house you are going to get such the beating, you just wait and see!
 
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Rotax Robert

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Bottom first then the top . Less change of pinching the bar when the wedge drops .

Same here, especially on large trees where there is considerable size and weight of the wedge.
 
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