Throughout 2012 I'll being going through the whole range of 'stuff' that is included in the CS31 assessment, and we've already made a start by looking at the legal constraints surrounding felling; but before I sign off for 2011, I thought I'd finish off by providing you with some hints and tips to help you through an assessment. There's nothing earth shattering here, and it's what I tell all those participating in my courses, so I hope you'll find it useful.
Find out more after the jump...
When people fail the CS31 assessment, invariably it is not on the questions (although many people do find it hard to remember everything), it's usually because they made a fundamental safety mistake, or messed up on the felling cut.
So here's the first piece of advice... take your time. The assessor will not expect you to be working at commercial forestry speeds, and every assessor that I know would rather you took your time to think through what it is you are about to do, before you do it. Of all the advice given, this is the main one! Don't rush it.
The second piece of advice... think about your danger zones and be aware that when you are dealing with a hung-up tree, the danger zones may change as the tree moves and rolls. All too often, during training, I see operators walk right past the back of the tree and right next to it. One 'trick' is to lay the felling bar down at the rear of the tree and in-line with it... then make sure you walk around the end of the bar. This will force you to leave a short distance between the rear of the tree if you have to walk around it.
The third piece of advice... think about your body position. It's very common, especially during training to mess up your hinge by cutting through it at some point, or to have a wedge-shaped hinge, but there's no need for this to happen if you just pay attention to your body / foot position. Getting your feet in the right place will normally solve most issues to do with the hinge.
Fourth bit of advice? Sink cuts can be difficult to get spot-on, so hold the saw correctly. The top cut of the sink is at 45 degrees, so hold the saw on the corner of the handle - the saw will automatically be held at the correct angle. The bottom cut of the sink needs to be level, and you can achieve this by moving your right hand around the handle so that you operate the throttle with your thumb rather than your finger - this may need a picture, so we'll talk more about holding the saw next year.
And finally, whilst there is loads more hints and tips (which we will go through later) the last piece of advice is to... relax! The assessors need to feel comfortable that you can safely fell a tree and then process it.
Good luck if you're undertaking your CS31 (or CS32) and let me know how it goes through the comments.