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Felling with D. Douglas Dent

Burnham

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Last week I joined the rest of the C sawyers on the Mt. Hood N.F., both recerts. of long standing like myself, and a few new cert. hopefuls, under the eye of Mr. D. Douglas Dent. The man is a legend in the PNW, and elsewhere, as a sawyer of uncommon skill, and an innovator of felling techniques and safety training.

He's still arrogant and opinionated as ever, though through the years he seems to have redirected most of his harsh words to desk jockey agency administrators and federal OSHA types, with a special place in his "feelings" for lawyers (he has a long history as an expert witness in cases involving litigation resulting from chainsaw use). His manner with students who want to learn and pay attention is quite warm, though he teases unmercifully. The best defense is to give it right back at him.

No quarter is given to those who don't stay tuned in or fail to act professionally and take the job dead serious.

I like the man, I'll admit it. At 62 he carries not an ounce of fat and handles a big saw with ease. He can't be more than 5'6" and weigh over 130 lbs.

Here's some pics I took during my day in the field with him. The first is Dent talking about escape line from the stump using bored backcut. The third is my good friend Floyd gunning in the base of his face cut.

More to come.
 

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Burnham

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Another batch of pics: Dent gets right in there with the cutter when the back cut goes in...he watches your back like a hawk, a nice feeling.

Here he and Leo keep an eye out for loose junk overhead, then head out as she commits to the face. Finally, as with every stump, the post-mortem autopsy.
 

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fishhuntcutwood

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Awesome! Makes me want to give up my last ten years of CG career and go talk to the FS for employment.

Cool Burnham.
 

Burnham

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This series shows Steve setting up this older snag for the fall. He bored the guts out of the hinge to ease the wedging...especially important when the top is as weak as this one was. Heavy driving of wedges can cause stuff to come off the top and that ain't good when you're working at the base.
 

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MasterBlaster

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That's no answer.

And I'm not talking about the underbed in the pic above, it's the one in the 4th pic.
 

Burnham

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The photographer never gets in the pics, it seems. Here's some shots of the tree I felled.

For reasons of his own, Doug looked over the group and pointed to me. It was the most deteriorated snag of the day, and it's head lean was directly across the road, which was why it was coming down in the first place (all the trees we felled were identified as roadway hazard trees).

I took it 90 degrees to it's lead and when I test bored it found only about 20 inches of solid wood inside its' 40" dbh exterior. But it went where I asked it to go and Dent's only negative comments were I stayed at the stump a smidge longer than he liked to finish my back cut up to make a parallel hinge, and my escape path was too close to directly behind the stump. In my mind there were good reasons for my choice of escape path, but arguing a point like that with the man is not smart, and in truth he was correct.

Here ya go, a look at the stump and tree.
 

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Burnham

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Justin called it, Butch.

We know that as soon as the face closes, the hingewood breaks, and at that point no longer offers any directional control to the tree. In the woods, there are far too many things to brush against that can divert the trees' direction, so maintaining hingewood until the tree is closer to the ground is safer.

Also, the falling tree has acquired more speed and thus momentum in the direction you faced it when the hinge does break, which offers additional resistance to being diverted by brushing through the adjacent crowns.

It's just a more accurate way to fall trees.
 

GASoline71

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That's no answer.

And I'm not talking about the underbed in the pic above, it's the one in the 4th pic.
I knew what ya meant...

I shoulda said the same thing Justin said... then Burnham (like always:) ) made it that much clearer. I have learned a lot from Burnham and Wiley over the last year when it comes to fallin' bigger trees. Main thing I learned was that my face cuts were too small.

Gary
 

squisher

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I'm far from an expert myself but unless you're production falling I fail to see how a face cut could be to big really unless ya took it to a ridiculous degree. Burnham or others anydrawbacks you know of from to big of a face cut? And I don't mean to deep but to steep. Clear as mud right.
 

NickfromWI

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Justin called it, Butch.

We know that as soon as the face closes, the hingewood breaks,
Hey, I never knew that. Cool!

Burnham, why was the trunk "thinned" with the saw? So that you're cutting through wood and not bark? Or was the saw just a hair too short?

love
nick
 

GASoline71

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Hey, I never knew that. Cool!

Burnham, why was the trunk "thinned" with the saw? So that you're cutting through wood and not bark? Or was the saw just a hair too short?

love
nick
Nick... my experience with big Doug Firs is that friggin' thick bark is a PITA. It makes the cuttin' a lot cleaner and easier to see your cuts when you remove it.

Gary
 

Magnus

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If the face is bigger as he has and even more it takes longer til the hinge break's. Here we cut max 1/4 of the tree diameter in the face.
Min. 3/4 in the back/falling cut.
It is a bit of perferance and how the felling area looks. Sometimes you don't want the hinge to break at all, some want it to jump of the stump, others want to cut the tree first then release the hinge and in this way prevent the tree from turning.
 

Burnham

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Hey, I never knew that. Cool!

Burnham, why was the trunk "thinned" with the saw? So that you're cutting through wood and not bark? Or was the saw just a hair too short?

love
nick
Nick... my experience with big Doug Firs is that friggin' thick bark is a PITA. It makes the cuttin' a lot cleaner and easier to see your cuts when you remove it.

Gary
Nick, what Gary says is correct, though not the whole story. The bark is heavily furrowed on these trees, and having a smooth surface to match cuts at is more visible and thus much easier.

Since mature Doug fir can have extremely thick bark, if one goes only on the matching of the flat and sloping cuts on the outer surface of the bark when forming the face, one can actually create a dutchman at the wood tissue before the cuts meet at the bark...usually this only happens if the bark is 4+ inches thick and/or the bar is just about the same length as the tree is wide, but it is a factor to consider.

Another issue is that the weight of a large saw doesn't get carried by the dogs as well in that bark, they tend to tear it out as you are starting the kerf...so cutting some of the looser outer portion off allows the dogs to work more effectively, easing the burden on the cutter.

All of these trees were standing dead, in a range of rot condition. The same issue with poor holding of the dogs, and consequently the saw, as with the bark exist with the rotten wood. If you have found you have a rind of rot with solid wood a few inches in, removing it helps the dogs bite better there too.

But perhaps the most important reason to cut off both thick bark and outer rot is to allow effective wedging. Wedges will not impart lift when pushing on either bark or rot. They need to be in solid wood to do their job well. By removing bark where the wedges will be used, you get best function of the wedges, and also get to use the whole length of them rather than being held back from further driving by bark thickness.

Finally, as you suggested, if your bar is just a few inches short rather than double cutting, just lop off several inches of bark to simplify the work. On steep ground this can become very important, rather than just a convenience. 3/4 or full wrap handles let you cut effectively from both sides of the tree, but if you can't reach up high enough from the downhill side to match the uphill cuts, you are screwed.
 

Burnham

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I'm far from an expert myself but unless you're production falling I fail to see how a face cut could be to big really unless ya took it to a ridiculous degree. Burnham or others anydrawbacks you know of from to big of a face cut? And I don't mean to deep but to steep. Clear as mud right.
Downsides that I have encountered are:

(1)With big wood you begin to end up with a very large chunk of wood to manhandle out of the face...sometimes boring vertically down through the wedge-shaped pie of wood to split it into two pieces is needed to make it more manageable. Here is one place that the Humbolt face offers an advantage. Consider the face cut technique Jerry B. shows so often in his High Climbers and Timber Fallers...designed soley to deal with the huge amounts of wood generated to make face cuts in the giants. You'd need a Cat to move traditionally formed face blocks, and even longer bars :O .

(2) Particularly when felling upslope, if you have a very wide opening the face does not close at all, leaving the tree still attached to the stump. Now there are times when this is desirable, and in arborist work you should consider this as a valuable technique. But if you then have to cut the log loose from the stump under any of the several binds that might now be in play, it can be a tricky job.
 
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