Sunday, June 24, 2012


We had a tree that was felled a few years ago. We thought we might like it as a landscape feature, but decided it was not going to work out.
First we cleared away the berries and brambles. I had rented a saw with a 28 inch bar to get through the thick end.  
I also had help. My son joined me with our newest farm-mate, Hank, a college friend of his who has come up to the NW to try a new direction. It was the first time for both of them being lumberjacks.
The tree had to come down because it was rotted inside. The first 10' or so was hollow. The edges were good, but the center was gone.
Pretty soon we got into full, solid rounds.
The boys spelled me with the saw. It takes a long time to get through wood this diameter and I wore out after a couple of hours.
It was their first time using a saw, but it seemed like a good time to learn. A saw like that handles like a Cadillac at 70 on a straight road. More training will be necessary before they are ready to use a smaller saw in the woods, but they did great.
A problem came as we got a little ways up the trunk. The further we went, the deeper the log was sunk in the dirt. We figured there was a lot of whiplash as it fell, causing the top to slam harder in the ground, sinking it deeper.

The worst thing for a saw chain is hitting dirt. I am not sure why it can chew through solid wood easily but goes dull at the slightest contact with soil. (If you know, fill me in.)

With a 28 inch bar and the wood 6" deep in the dirt, I was having a hard time making a clean cut without ruining the chain. I had a backup chain, but a lot of wood to get through and a long ride to the rental shop if it went dull.

After conferring with Phoebe and the boys we decided on a strategy. We grabbed a 4X4 for leverage, and some timbers to pry against. An adz was used to clear out the dirt from one side. 
I cut several rounds 3/4 through, stopping before I got near the dirt. Then we carefully dug one out and made a full cut.
We wedged the beam in and pried.
It took a fair amount of levering but we were able to roll the log a quarter turn and finish the cut safely above the dirt. It was an old school approach, and really satisfying to have such simple thing work so well.

The boys used a splitting maul and wedge to beak the rounds into manageable chunks. We will finish the splitting this fall, once the weather cools a bit and it is nice and dry.
It was really gratifying to do the work, made even more so by spending time working with the boys. It has been far too long since Jake was at home, and we are enjoying getting to know Hank.


  1. Good job! A lot of back braking work but isn't it satisfying when you see that stack of firewood (even if it's not completely ready)? I am always amazed that previous generations were able to build log homes with primitive tools---really makes me appreciate our modern conveniences!

  2. nice work..that is a monster!..that should help keep your place warm all winter!

    Not sure if it is dirt or stones which make a chainsaw go dull..but either way I avoid the ground at all costs!

  3. That's a load of wood! I couldn't help but lust at the thought of a couple of three inch think slices off the fat end. I always make outdoor furniture for around our fire pit and under a few select trees as relaxation/reading spots. My daughter has long used slabs and chairs carved with the chainsaw for her hide-outs.


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