Slightly OT: Chainsaw/felling question

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I've got a coupla' big pines in the front yard that I'd like to take down. However, they're both big enough to hit the house unless the top sections are taken off first. I've seen specialized saws specifically designed for tree use, but don't have one. My smaller saw is reasonably nimble, but I'm hestitant to just go leapin' up there with it. Anyone have any horror stories or brilliant successes with a regular chainsaw up in the trees? I'm certainly comfortable felling from the ground (wood heat and all that) but haven't done a lotta tree work with a powered saw.
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I'm with ya Tim. I've felled hundreds of tress while firmly planted on the ground, but I'm hesitant to get up on a ladder and top one, unless I were to lop off 6" pieces at a time until I got it down to the height I wanted. I've been on roofs with a saw cutting vent holes for firefighting and that was bad enough, I'm sure not comfortable doing the same from a ladder.
Not sure if this will work for you, but I recently had to have some branches (large) removed that were rubbing on my power lines running from my meter pole to my house. Since the power company is only technically responsible for the feed to the meter, everything beyond that including overhead lines is the homeowner responsibility. I corralled the local power company while they were near by doing some other work and asked the line crew with the cherry picker to come up my driveway and take care of this for me. They did it no sweat. Wouldn't even accept a cup of coffee for the effort. Not sure if you could leverage the same type of effort out of your local guys, but it is worth a try. They have the truck, the chain saw and they usually don't mind helping out.
Failing that, or some other free source of labor, I think I might resort to other approaches. Don't discount the idea of getting up there with a ladder and tying a good stout rope around the trunk several feet down from the top. Hook the rope to a 4X4 and give it a pull. You'd be surprised at how easy it is to break a trunk off like that. I've laid many a back hoe bucket up against a tree as far as it would reach and broke the tree off. You could even weaken the trunk at the point where you want it to break with a notch, but I wouldn't think that's really necessary.
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I can give you the horror story. In brief is was just trimming a large tree and I was on the last branch I wanted to take down. 20 feet later, by the way I did have enough sense to throw the chainsaw away from me, an arm broken in 2 places and $4000 in medical expenses after insurance, I would have been better off calling in a tree specialist.
Hope this helps guide your decision Eric Olsen

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I've taken down many trees from ground level from 20' to over 60' in height, but I won't go up into a tree with a power saw.
I've seen professionals have trouble off of the ground. One small slip can cause disaster.
My advice - hire someone to top the trees.
My $.02 worth. Bill
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carver3(remove) snipped-for-privacy@bellsouth.net wrote:

meant by big. I wouldn't consider it big unless it was at least 15-18" in diameter and over 90 feet tall. I wouldn't cut the top 20 feet off of a 90 foot tree. Ever see movies of professional lumbermen that top trees and how far the tree swing when the top falls off? Or maybe a movie of a nonprofessional who is tied to the tree but gets thrown about 15 feet out of the tree and dangles by one foot about 60 feet up?
That said, fall the tree in a direction that doesn't hit the house.
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On 1/2/2006 8:30 PM George E. Cawthon mumbled something about the following:

I have 2 15-18" diameter pines near my house. They're only about 50 ft tall. The ones near 80-90' tall are closer to 20-24" diameter, and those are a further back in my woods.
--
Odinn - ready to drop about 20-30 pines and have milled.

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Odinn wrote:

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On 1/3/2006 1:40 AM George E. Cawthon mumbled something about the following:

They must be pretty damn close then. I have about 3.5 acres of dense woods on my property, next to about 5 acres of dense woods on my neighbors property which goes on to the next neighbor and on several neighbors over. It's so dense, that I can't see my neighbor at 150 ft away, even in the winter with no leaves on the trees or underbrush.
--
Odinn - could be this Jawja clay they grow in.

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Ditto the advice to hire a tree trimmer. Unless you've got the equipment, training and experience to do it safely, stay on the ground. There's no experience quite like being 20' up in a tree and having a branch nail you. Bugs
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ground with the rope. You tie the rope near the top of the section that you want to cut off and as you start to cut through your helper pulls the section over. With the section now hanging down you cut the rest of the way through and let the section drop. If you are simply taking out limbs tie the rope to the limb that you are going to remove, toss the rope over a higher limb and let your helper lower the limb after you have cut it clear of the tree.
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"Leon" wrote in message

There are some who take this to a choreographed art form. One company I hire to take down trees close to other houses prior to construction has a crew that is masterful at the technique.
The guy up the tree with the chainsaw, while kin to a monkey, is not the most impressive of the two. The 'rope guy' on the ground is the one who makes the whole thing work by releasing the rope at just the appropriate time during the cutoff's swing.
By timing the release, he can make a four foot section of limb/trunk fall in the back of a dump truck parked 30 feet away, like slam dunking a basketball.
Just watching generally shuts up all the tree hugging neighbors who come out to bitch about the tree being taking down.
--
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I don't fell a lot of trees like some of the other posters, but my father and I had to take down about a 75 foot oak tree last year because it was leaning towards their building. I climbed up a 30 foot ladder, attached a cable around the trunk, and ran the other end to Dad's combination. He kept tension on the cable while I cut the tree down. Now, with all that said, there's no friggin way you'd get me to climb 30 feet or so up in the air with a chainsaw and top a tree. I don't know where you live, but I'm in the suburbs here and wanted a couple of 30-foot trees removed. Since space was tight, I hired the job out, which only cost $300. Maybe you could find someone who would just top them if that's all you want. Or just fell them safely and let you do the cleanup. Around here, I could rent a cherry picker if I was so inclined. Whatever you decide, make sure you listen to that little voice in your head.
todd
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Tim and Steph. While the advice on how to top a tree is good, two people, rope etc. having worked in my younger days with an arborist, if you don't have the safety gear and experience please consider hiring the job out. We always said that if a tree is properly cut, roped, you can fall it with precision, rule two is that a tree does what it &*&# pleases. Listening to the "little voice" is great advice. As always, this advice it worth just what it cost ;-).
David
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Your best bet is to hire a professional. Believe me, the life you save may be your own.

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Go with a pro. It's not so expensive. I watch a crew take down a couple of trees on a lot a short distance from my house last October. The guy high up in the tree did use a chainsaw, but he also had a rig on to keep him up there if he slipped. It was belayed from below with a guy tending that line. Sort of like how mountain climbers do it. There was a third guy below watching for the branches that fell. When they did, He got them out of the way and cut them into smaller pieces. Quite a system.
BTW, they were more than happy to let me take some log segments when I asked. Nice guys.
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Tim and Steph wrote:

done by a professional tree service.     rat-a-tat     jo4hn
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I can give you the benefit of my experience.
25 years ago, when I was still immortal, I was trimming some large oak trees in the front yard. I had cut firewood for supplemental income a couple of winters, so I thought I knew what I was doing. I had a saw small enough that I could handle it with one hand. No way would I ever attempt this otherwise, even then. I cut several limbs from several trees without any surprises. Then I leaned the ladder against a tree trunk to cut off a 4 inch limb that was later measured to be 22 feet from the ground. Since I knew what I was doing, I wisely made the first cut from the bottom of the limb until it just began to pinch the saw, then began cutting from the top side. When the limb fell clear, the springy branches hit the ground first. The but end slammed into the ladder, and suddenly I was standing in the air with a running chainsaw. I was able to toss it aside on the way down, but I still ended up with a fractured a foot.
I've done many dangerous things since then, but I've never gotten on a ladder with a chainsaw. Nor will I ever.
DonkeyHody "Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from poor judgement."
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I trained first as a groundsman then as an arborist to work my way through school--did that full-time for about 3 years. Since graduation I've averaged about 5 jobs a year on my own for the past decade, mostly for myself or friends as the opportunity arises, which I never seek out.
My advice would be for you to call all the arborists in your area and ask for a quote. Talk with them about their experience, ask to see their liability insurance papers, and check with the BBB for any information about them. Then go with the one that gives the lowest bid while being at least half-intelligent. If it's just a couple of big pines, they should cost anywhere from $200-400 each, especially if they're near buildings. I know that sounds like a lot, but really, it's dirt cheap compared with problems that could ensue because of hundreds of possible things that could go wrong, and that arborists are trained to handle.
It's not impossible to do it yourself, safely even, but you must be willing to invest in the correct tools: one safety-blue line, one limb line (roughly $100 each), one climbing harness with steel-cable guts (about $150-200), a pair of good climbing spikes ($150), helmet w/ muffs and visor ($40), a small climbing saw (Stihl 09 if just for occasional use, about $300), one larger saw for cutting the lower trunk and the larger pieces on the ground ($400+, although the one you have may suffice?), competent groundsman to help ($100-200 for a day). You'll also need a way to cart the branches and trunk away, but you've probably already figured that one out. Make sure your insurance is paid up.
In addition to the tools, you'll need to study trees, pines specifically, which react differently to cutting than hardwoods. They tend to SNAP at inopportune moments, especially if rotted--and you can't always see if there's rot inside a trunk. You should get some experience to be able to determine just how much force you can get away with to get X top leaning Y degrees to fall Z direction. You should get some experience to find out which cut to make in which place, where to have your body positioned in case something does go wrong (and it does even to experienced arborists), what redundancy systems you should have in place for a particular situation (like backup ropes, another $200 or so). Learn the basic knots that arborists must be able to tie quickly for different circumstances (minimally a bowline, prussik, blake, half-hitch, tautline, sheet). You must be able to climb, much like a mountain climber, but with some differences: your equipment is much heavier, so it needs to be good quality and fit well, otherwise it will dig and hurt; you'll be carrying some heavy equipment and must learn to trust your ropes etc., so simply practice until it feels comfortable. It's best, overall, to start as a groundsman in order to watch how it's done, then have the climbers teach you. I was fortunate to have two wonderful and very skilled arborists invest their time for my education in trees. They were very safety-oriented, a fact that I have come to appreciate more and more with each passing year that I'm still alive.
I think you see my point by now: either do it right and learn the trade correctly, or hire the skilled labor. Half-assing it will get you half-assed, half-legged, or worse. Chainsaw accidents are among the most common for inexperienced and even experienced users. Timber-cutters don't lead the nation in the highest mortality rate per job for nothing: http://money.cnn.com/2003/10/13/pf/dangerousjobs/index.htm
Also, check out http://www.elvex.com/facts08.htm
Good luck, H
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The gear, with the exception of the climbing saw, I've got. The rope skills I've got down cold, after many years of climbing, caving and sailing. I've taken down a lotta trees, so I'm comfortable there, too. What I don't have is the tree experience. Given the piece of property I own, this would be a tremendously useful skill. I understand the need to do it right, and I'm fairly partial to keeping all of my limbs intact. Question is, can this skill be safely learned by a reasonably intelligent person in a reasonable time period at a reasonable cost?
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OK, if you've got the gear and have climbing and cutting experience, that helps. Still, combining those two skills up high is not easily or quickly learned nor is it something to be taken lightly. With my experience--which I'd estimate at having climbed and taken down from the top about 50-60 trees--I still take a pass on about half the job offers for no other reason than that I think it's too risky for my abilities.
So, be willing to make a fair assessment of your skills, and be determined not to be afraid of stopping in the middle of a project and saying to yourself, "I just don't feel safe doing that."
I like your determination and am the same myself. It's not rocket science, after all, and if all the red-necks I see doing it can master it, then so can I. So, I encourage you to try your hand, but do it gradually. Read up a bit on the techniques. Don't start out with trees near buildings. Pick a tree that can come down alone or would damage only other trees. Climb it. Cut some limbs off. On one that's not too tall, after you've limbed it, cut the top out. That'll give you some indication, even if all things go smoothly, of how unpredictable trees can be. It's a bit like the ocean: doesn't look that bad until you actually get out onto rough seas in a small boat--then it quickly gets your respect.
Another analogy might be health and medical issues. Most of the time when I go to the doctor for some minor procedure, I end up thinking: what a scam, he's collecting so much for something any idiot could master and do. But the truth is that it's not uncommon for those simple procedures to go awry, even with experienced doctors.
Start out small and get some experience, then tackle those trees by your house.
Good luck and keep us informed, H
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