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j0300518.gif (1905 bytes) Basic Chain Saw Course 103

    This is the most important part of operating a chain saw. You must have a plan of attack. You know what your intended end result should be. You must analyze the process and all of the steps necessary to achieve your goal. This is call "Size Up". Disregarding this step can kill you or someone else, very quickly. These steps must be followed every time you begin a cutting sequence whether you are a beginner or a professional with 40 years experience.

Do not leave out any of the following steps:

1) Observe the terrain for slope and possible obstructions. Walk the area that the tree will fall to ensure that no surprises will be found.

2) Observe the weather/wind direction (gusty, squirrely, steady, or calm. This one factor can be your worst enemy or your best friend.

3) Look at the tree, from all directions, to determine lean/leans, broken or lodged materials within the tree, rot, splits and any other deformities that may affect the way the tree will fall. On larger trees, walk around and right next to the trunk of the tree while looking directly up. Rain, ice and snow all add weight to the branches and trunk of a tree. This will affect the center of gravity of a tree being cut and must be allowed for.

4) On larger trees, use your hatchet or ax to thump or "Sound" the butt of the tree. If need be, remove the bark. "Sound" all around the trees butt to detect hollow or unsound portions of the tree. This will determine how you will cut the tree and where it will try to go when cut from the stump. You will find that just because it looks healthy, doesn't mean that it is true. Especially for certain species like True Firs. The first indicator of a potential problem may be butt swell, however, in some species, like the Cedars, this may be normal. You must create a visual picture of what is under the bark before you ever start cutting.

5) Figure out and clean out both your primary and secondary escapes.

6) Check for anything that may be hung up in the tree being cut.

7) Check for snags and leaning or hung up trees within a two and 1/2 tree length area around the tree you wish to cut.

8) Check for anything that may change the direction of fall such as vines, other trees branches or other trees.

9) Make sure that no one is within 2 and tree lengths of the tree that you are cutting.

10) Make sure that no animals, buildings, power lines, etc… will be hit by your falling tree.

11) In your mind, you must then figure out what will happen as the tree goes down and after it hits the ground. You must also anticipate what might happen within the immediate area surrounding your work area. Flying debris has injured and killed many chain saw operators because it was not anticipated.

12) Keep in mind, when cutting smaller and hairier trees (more branches), the tree will tend to “Kickback” when it hits the ground.

13) Whenever the tree diameter permits, ALWAYS use a wedge in the “Backcut”.

14) Take it slow and easy. Practice is what gains you knowledge and experience.

15) A few extra basics for the cutting of small trees (5” or less) are:

  • A face cut is not required by OSHA logging rules. It still wouldn't hurt to use them though, whenever feasible.

  • When using an angled cut to remove the tree from the stump, you will leave a sharp "punji stake". If you or someone else stumbles and falls on this, it will leave a very nasty hole in the body. Try to leave your stumps as flat as possible.

16) Most species of trees are not very tall when the d.b.h. is 5" or less (Lodge pole pine is one of the few exceptions). When cutting trees, a complacent attitude can set in. The operator thinks it is just a "small" tree that is being cut, and therefore the basic rules can be ignored. WRONG!!! More chain saw operators and spectators/helpers/partners have been injured or killed by smaller trees than by the larger ones.

17) When making the “Backcut” shout a warning. Don’t holler “Timber” as this is reserved for the movies.

18) You can be taught many things in a book or in a classroom situation but actually doing it is the best instructor. Just don't forget the basics and you might live though these experiences.

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