There's always a great clamour to get out into the woods and fell the biggest tree! But just stop and think for a moment... is that really the best thing to do if you've only just started your CS31. Cutting down a big tree requires a lot of clearing up! If something goes wrong during the fell, how are you going to deal with it? You can also get away with being slightly less accurate in your cuts with bigger trees, masking potential problems that you might have with your cuts. So, before we even start the saw, let's work through the next few posts discussing how to make it safer, as well as ensuring that you get the most out of the training that you're doing.
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The first thing to do before you take a saw to the tree, is just to look at it, and the surrounding environment. Ask yourself questions such as... "Are there powerlines or other cables within two tree lengths?", "Are there public footpaths or bridleways that might require the use of a banksman, as well as signs?", "Are the weather conditions conducive to maintaining control of the tree during the felling operation?".
Of course, this is just the start of the process, as you need to be thinking about the direction of fell, the state of the tree, the weighting of the tree and so on.
In this post, we'll take a quick look at deciding on the felling direction. There are always instances where it doesn't really matter which way you fell the tree, but certainly on your assessment, the assessor will want to know which way you want to fell it. If you lose control of the tree and it falls down in a completely different direction, then that's not going to look good!
Of course, in many circumstances you are limited in your choice, be that due to other trees, buildings, fence lines, public areas or just the form of the tree. All these things, and more, need to be taken into account when you decide which way to fell the tree. Here's a quick tip to help you decide if you need to consider whether the weighting of the tree is definitely going to be a factor when choosing the direction of fell and the type of felling cut...
If you've got an idea of the direction you wish to take the tree down, then it's not a bad idea to walk in that direction and look back at the tree, checking for anything that might get in the way of it coming straight down... branches from another tree, a powerline, etc. But here's the real tip... now walk over to a point at 90 degrees from the tree (i.e. to the left or right of the tree) as this will allow you to properly assess the weighting of the tree canopy. Remember, if you only look at it from one direction you might not notice that the weight of the tree's canopy means that it actually wants to fall in completely the opposite direction!
With the direction sorted, and the weighting of the tree assessed, you can choose which type of felling cut to use. In the next post, we'll take a look at visually assessing the state of the tree.