Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Training Difference...

Training Difference...
By Tim Ard - Forest Applications Training, Inc.

If you were to ask people what is the difference in experience and formal training, they would probably say, “Experience is the best training you can have.” Getting out and doing it is definitely going to teach you things about the task at hand. Soren Eriksson always said that “experience is the best teacher.” However he always finished that statement with,”experience is a good teacher but you have to remember there are two types of experience, good and bad. You want to learn the good on your own and the bad from someone else. It’s usually a lot less painful that way.”

When it comes to storm cleanup involving chainsaws, and some other chainsaw operations too, it is important we approach it with a basic knowledge or awareness and add to our experience level as we approach the task. To do this safely and successfully any activity should start with a plan.

So let’s break this thought process into segments. Knowledge and training....

It’s my theory that knowledge is acquired over time. It’s the level of experience that you are holding on any given subject. It could be to a level of understanding or it could be in application. I may have a full understanding of how to fly a plane but I’ve never tried to take off or land. Once I apply that knowledge/understanding then I can consider myself a pilot. That’s where training comes in to play.

My thoughts here are that training is the process you go through to obtain and master knowledge. It could be the time lapsed between a known desire, the formulated plan, and the eventual execution of the plan to achieve success in the project. In other thoughts, training is often a process that begins with a plan and then continues until the plan is successful. I need to consider myself training until I can do a task without finishing below my planned expectations or success. Training is often where a teacher or mentor is brought in to speed up the process. Someone or something to offer a better or clearer understanding of the knowledge and can guide us through the application process to limit errors in the trial. Without a guide of some form we are learning through trial and error.

In equipment operations like the use of a chainsaw, regulations promote that the first form of training you should have is reading, understanding and applying, the manufacturer’s operators manual. The manufacturer has compiled this information for the operator for an understanding of design, application and safety. This provided manual should be your first knowledge training.

I ask groups about every week in chainsaw workshops to raise their hand if they have seen and read an owners manual for the equipment they run. I often never get a raised hand. Why do you think this is? Some say they don’t know where the manual is but most, as with many things, feel we already know that information. We have been using or have observed someone using the tool and that’s the best training we can get.

The next step might be to acquire a supervisor or mentor to help us achieve a clearer picture of the applications of the tool. Oh, that’s expensive.... so we need to get that part of training actually doing a job with the tool. The supervisor or mentor can overlook the job and correct and apply the tool properly in the task. This training process doesn’t cost extra... less expensive. Or is it?

Off the job training- are there any advantages?

Formalized or off the job training for equipment operators can have its advantages. It enables a planned focus and direction of the knowledge information for the hands on application. The environment is created instead of trying to learn in a situation requiring meeting a deadline or satisfy a customer or supervisor.

Let’s think again about the reasons that people don’t read the operators manual from the manufacturer. Maybe some don’t like to take time to read. They’re busy with lots of work today. Next it could be there is a lot of information they feel doesn’t apply. Their knowledge is deemed to be above the information in the manual. Some just find it boring. Finally, some people are just not interested in being an equipment operator. They are uncomfortable with the equipment or have no desire to use it at home or on the job.

With many topics relating to adult learning, I believe a 99 to 1 ratio in the presentation may be an important part in obtaining useable results. It breaks down to 99 percent motivation and 1 percent technique. Often the presenter or supervisor just doesn’t impress the student. A lack of common sense approach by the instructor will turn a student off quickly. Then there’s always the presenter or supervisor that is a know it all. Their way or the highway.... As Jerry Clower used to say, “I can tell they are educated above their intelligence.”

I’d like to discuss with you a program for you or your equipment operators. Forest Applications Training, Inc. has workshops formatted for results in chainsaw applications, zero turn mower applications, saw chain maintenance and very unique program in two cycle troubleshooting for the operator of handheld power equipment.

Contact us today at or call 770-543-9862 to discuss your training program.

Copyright 2017 Tim Ard Forest Applications Training, Inc.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Storm Sawing Thoughts…
by Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

Whether a Hurricane, Tornado or Fire Storm, the past few weeks have been a record setting challenge across the country.

I want to share some thoughts about cutting snag trees whether wind broken or burned. This can also apply to control of cutting horizontal trees or limb removal from wind broken standing trees.

Make sure first to complete your plan. Hazards/Obstacles, Leans, Escape, Hinge, and then consider some of the below for your Back cut. 

The hinge to control your tree or limb must be flexible. This means it must be able to bend to maintain control of the tree, log or limb movement. If it is too thick or rotted it can cause splitting or the fiber will break out not giving accurate control and operator safety.

Take for instance a standing tree snag that has a broken top.  Whether wind broken or burned, the fiber is generally compromised. This situation can or could also be found on a dead, decaying tree. If you plan to wedge or rope pull, you do not want to try to move the stem until the hinge can be considered flexible. I see operators or read reports where chainsaw operators, start a back cut on a snag, place a wedge and drive it hard into the back cut kerf. If the hinge is too thick this just causes vibrations and splitting that can be very dangerous. Many times they repeat this two or three times on that same snag and shake the tree until something breaks and falls.

Other resistance can be found in front of the hinge in the way of a face notch that closes too soon or a by-pass (Dutchman) that disrupt movement of the hinge.

Consider what you really want the tree or snag to do is to lift or move in the direction you choose without any resistance. If the hinge is set thin enough (approximately 10% of the wood diameter) to act as a fulcrum, the wedge or rope will have much greater success without so much shaking, barber chair and possible operator injury and or loss of control.

If you don’t understand these mechanics you should seek hands on, on site training before putting yourself at risk.

Always wear all your Personal Protective Equipment! Always a good idea to review your manufacturers equipment operators manual before beginning your project. 

Tim Ard is President and Lead Instructor of Forest Applications Training Inc. Information can be obtained by website at or contact by email at 

Copyright 2017 - Forest Applications Training, Inc.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Slide Instead...

Slide Instead…
by Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

A tree is down and now the real work begins. We have to cut it into manageable pieces to be able to either move it, chip it, or sell it. In this process are a magnitude of issues that can effect our safety and profit.

Where to cut is formed by our need to move/remove the cut wood pieces. Planning a required length for either hand movement or machine. Sometimes our decision is dictated by market or work area requirements. Firewood length, chip length or environmental concern length are all necessary size requirements. Whatever the size needed, at the point you make the cut, a plan must be developed.

A decision has to be made asking yourself these questions. When I make this cut and sever this piece will it move? Side to side, up and down or back to forward? We must anticipate movement to decide how to control it. We decide where to cut and will it move, then next is what technique to cut the piece. Sometimes just a straight kerf cut to sever the piece. Sometimes a notch and hinge to slow reactions and pinch pressures. Sometimes offset cuts reduce movement and eliminate pinch and bind.

Two very useful techniques are a simple kerf and or a slide notch.

The Kerf
The kerf is the term used to describe a cut made into a log or limb. Making a cut with a saw into the log or limb produces a kerf. The kerf is normally about 3/8” wide. The depth of the kerf is regulated by our depth of cut.

There are really only two types of kerf’s used when working with a saw. A straight kerf and a combination of kerf’s we call a notch and back cut.

A straight kerf will close quickly under pressure and force fibers to bind a saw bar and chain on the compression side of a log or limb. On the tension side of the log or limb a straight kerf will work fine to reduce bind as long as a kerf or notch and hinge on the compression side allows movement without closing or fiber splitting.

The Slide Notch
The slide notch is produced by simply turning the bar and chain parallel to the limb or trunk on the compression side. Now slide the bar up or down the surface making an opening in the bark and the fiber. This shallow slide into the fiber will work as a notch opening, of about 90 degrees. Then as the kerf cut is made from the opposite tension side, the fiber is allowed to work as a hinge. The notch and hinge can even be made toward the side of the piece to direct the limb or trunk in a more sideways direction. In either position the slide notch works much better than a simple kerf cut. A slide notch can be made just as quickly, if not faster, than a straight kerf cut and eliminates the chances of compression side bind.

Notch Thoughts
The notch is used in our work to allow the wood fiber to bend, relieving pressure as the wood piece is severed. Because tree trunks and limbs grow is circles, adding growth rings annually for strength while maintaining flexibility, a notch is necessary to keep the pressures from splitting the fibers as they move in a desired direction. You can illustrate this by just making a kerf into a limb piece and then applying pressure to the limb. The fiber will split off instead of bending in the desired direction. If you make just a small mark (slide notch) on the limb on the opposite side from your kerf, when pressure is applied, the fiber will work as a hinge into that notch opening. This relief notch is reducing the fiber separation and splitting that occurred in the previous.

Operators sometime use notches to try to prevent binding in a limb or log. The notch opening is placed deep into the piece with thoughts to reduce binding on the compression side (the side closing on your saw bar). It’s not the notch however that reduces the pinch it’s the hinge wood just behind the notch that eliminates the pinch. A deeper notch simply moves the pinch point not the pinch.The depth of the notch really only moves the compressing pinch point closer to the middle of the limb or logs diameter. This will actually pinch your guide bar with more pressure than a shallow notch. Several kerf’s will do a better job than a notch to reduce the pinch possibilities in pressure situations. The best however is a hinge (or holding fiber) to keep your guide bar and chain from becoming stuck. It can definitely help the operator read the anticipated movement with less bind possibilities.

SO, next time you plan to clear a storm situation cutting a tree trunk or limb, try a Slide Notch Instead.

Remember, when using a chainsaw an important part of your plan is to read and fully understand the manufacturers operation manual and to always wear proper Personal Protective Equipment when using a chainsaw.

A great way to learn how these techniques work in action is to attend one of our ForestApps Storm Sawing Workshops. Check out our website at for more details or contact our office at or call 770-543-9862.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, February 1, 2016

Three Day Experiences...

Forest Applications Training, Inc.
Three Day Workshop

By Tim Ard, President/Instructor Forest Applications Training, Inc.

Why so much time? Why three days? Is there really that much information to cover?

Our Three Day Workshop, we call Storm Sawing, is the ultimate training system for the novice and full-time chainsaw operators. It is review for some and new for others but in every aspect it is chainsaw application education. Time spent in establishing a planning process in use of the chainsaw. 

Some people are afraid or hesitate to drive a car on major highways. Some people are afraid of flying in airplanes. Some people have been using a chainsaw since they were old enough to walk with it, others are scared to pick one up. In most things to be comfortable our experience level establishes our comfort level.

Experience - a great teacher!

Soren Eriksson explained it this way in many of the first chainsaw training workshops I attended. Experience is the best teacher but you must remember there are two different types of experiences — Good ones and bad ones! Some you want to learn on your own, bad ones from others as it is a lot less painful that way!

Chainsaw manufactures have done an awesome job over the last 90 years from their experience in producing chainsaws with the latest technology. Making them as safe and productive as they can be. Using feedback from operators like yourselves. Information from well liked experiences and some from known patterns of bad experiences. 

My chainsaw training experiences have been formed in a third of that time, a little over 30 years. My 30 years of chainsaw, out of about 60 years of life, focusing on the safety and productivity of the operators of those manufactured products. I have learned a lot from manufactures’ and operators’ and have attempted to organize all aspects of chainsaw operation and maintenance into a workshop of 18 short hours over a three day time. I can tell you workshops have to be focused, yet very flexible, to accomplish my goal with so many experience levels of operators. However, it is so important to make sure that all those attending totally understand the importance of the results. Results hinge on a few very important key factors:

  • Time proven teaching techniques and methods.
  • Positive organizer and attendee attitudes.
  • Classroom facilities.
  • Proper attendee numbers.
  • Adequate cutting sites.
  • Properly applied equipment.
  • Weather.

A training workshop, that gets results, must be well planned and organized in all the above areas. Most of all, have an instructor who can manage it all.

I’m not going to go through the specific outline, techniques or agenda of the workshop here, that can be found on our website or through discussions with our office, but I do want to give you some of my thoughts as to why our Three Day Workshop is important to overall attendee results. This is a progressive instruction process. It is important to have attended the days in order. However, it is possible to have time between the days. If an attendee cannot make the days consecutively he or she can attend the next higher level class that meets their time schedule.

Day One
We are equipped to lecture and demonstrate to a large number (40 to 100) attendees given facilities and cutting site will accommodate. This day is an in classroom lecture and discussion of chainsaw PPE, Reactive Forces, Sharpening, Maintenance, and Planning followed by an outside demo that establishes the process at a tree. Once the tree is felled a discussion of de-limbing, spring pole  and bucking techniques are shown and discussed. Attendees watch and learn. This first day is often used to show a larger group what can be learned and invite interest in the smaller attendee hands on day two and three. It can also be a great review day for a previous trained group as well as an intro into day two and three for a new group.

Day Two
A group maximum of 15 attendees ( this is 15 max for this day with a preferred 10 to 12 ). This smaller group is then hands on with planning and felling trees looking at concepts of the hinge and felling cuts. It must be size limited for safety but also for site, terrain, time and sometimes weather limitations. All attendees must be focused on each tree felled. Every tree is different, ranging from size, to leans, as well sometimes dead or alive, so it is important the whole group plans and focuses on every situation.

Day Three
A group of 12 to 16 is preferred. De-limbing and Bucking the felled trees of day two. This day is where most firewood and storm cleanup operators really want to be. Pressures and binds of storm and cleanup can be challenging and a lot of work. Organizers sometime think you should be able to go right to this day to start. I can tell you that the site must be set up properly with the felled trees to really be able to safely conduct this training. When it is set up properly and the attendees work in teams the positive results multiply rapidly. 

Attendees not only feel they work safer but also a lot more productive after going through the progression of the three days. I have tried several times to start with a group that doesn't have a focussed planning process, equipment that is not performing well and operators not understanding a hinge — the results are then very unpredictable.

In Conclusion…

Training to cover big numbers is often times initially less cost per person but is not always the most profitable for your overall budgeted results.  Maintaining a safe work environment and maximizing productivity is what makes training dollars, as well as your organization, profitable isn't it? 

You know — the bottom line is experience isn't it? Safety is effected by experience? Productivity is dependent on experience and effected by safety is it not?  How can you then limit a training experience and expect maximum safely productive positive results? 

All that is really required training for a chainsaw operator is to read and understand the chainsaw manufactures operation manual. How many people you know have read it? How many have applied and purchased the PPE, maintenance and sharpening tools listed in those publications and have followed the falling, de-limbing and bucking techniques found in those pages? This finding is a very good example of why a formal training program is needed for any equipment operation.

Training is a long term investment, especially with tools like chainsaws. Whether you contact Forest Applications and schedule a workshop or you prefer another training company or you organize a training program yourself. Think about experience is a progression not a single event. An experience, to be results training, must make an impression on the attendee that is first applicable, promote productivity and most of all structured to promote and maintain safe work habits in the operation environment. It should be a life changing experience.  

Our training programs, nor any others, can turn you into an experienced operator in 1 day or 20 days. The workshop’s or program can only give you a valuable experience to continue to build upon… Choose and Invest in Your Experiences Wisely.

Thank you to all those who have attended our Experiences in the past years and those we hope to see in the future— Good Sawing….

Contact Forest Applications Training, Inc. at or visit for more information.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Stump-Shot or Not....

Stump-Shot or Not...

By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

You've made an almost picture perfect face notch in the tree trunk. Right on dimensions and directed perfectly for a spot on placement of the tree in the drop target area. Now for the back cut to finish off your task. 

You level up the saw bar with the proper height on the back of the trunk, ready for the final cut. But wait, what’s your thoughts on where the back cut should be height wise in relation to the V of the face notch. Should it be higher than the V, or lower? And if so, how much should it be higher or lower? One inch, two inches or three inches. 

Stump-Shot or in other terms the correct raised offset level of the back cut on a limb or tree has been tossed around for as long as there has been saw work. The Stump-Shot has been always used in felling, and sometimes large limb removal, to keep the severed piece from rebounding backward toward the operator. It is kind of a physics thing that when a tree or limb is severed it tends to fall (unique concept huh). When it falls the center weight of the stem seeks its attachment point and the butt end comes backward during that action. This backward action is believed to be limited by the Stump-Shot. The higher back cut leaves a ledge to limit the stem from coming back during that rebound action. It locks the butt so to speak on the Stump-Shot so it’s less likely to come back. 

In reality this action of butt rebound starts when the felling hinge is broken or no longer controls the fall. This happens in timing with the action of the face notch. If the notch is closed the hinge breaks. The vertical position the stem is in during the falling process when the hinge control is lost causes the butt rebound to be greater. In the fall of a virtually straight tree, if the face notch is 45 degrees this takes place at a position of half way to the ground. If the notch is less that 45 or the notch is by-passed (back corner of the notch does not meet exact), it could take place sooner in the fall. Either way some amount of control is lost in the tree fall when the notch closes or resistance breaks the hinge. So, the Stump-Shot it is believed to assist the hold of the stem in position on the stump during the fall.

Another way to think through the process is to think what would keep the stem attached to the stump longer and possibly more predictably?  If the face notch were open to 70 degrees (the Open Face technique) or even more, then the stem would stay attached until such time as the butt rebound scenario is not a factor. This more open notch, allowing the hinge to remain in intact longer, retaining control of the fall until the tree or limb is to a desired position on the ground. If the tree hangs on something the hinge is most likely still holding. Butt rebound becomes little or no factor.

But why not just use a Stump-Shot to make sure? Three things come into play.

  1. To be sure of the hinge dimension you plan to control the tree or limb movement with is to have the back cut level to the face notch. Often limbs and trunks grow with angled fiber, like a flared trunk at ground level or a limb collar up the tree. Think about if you have fiber growing at 30 degrees and you consider the level of a notch and the higher level of the back cut. Your planned hinge thickness between those two levels, because of the angled fiber between, could be reduced unknowingly between those two points. Knowing this scenario the only way you can plan/calculate an exact hinge thickness or width is with your back cut level to the notch.
  2. When the tree or limb starts to fall with a Stump-Shot it has to separate fibers vertically to begin the hinge breaking process. The Stump-Shot can cause splitting of the log and loss of control if the hinge is not to a bendable dimension. If the hinge is thin at the Stump-Shot level it can cause the tree to twist or set down during vertical fiber separation losing direction steering control. When the hinge is level to the notch the fiber is more apt to break from the back to the front without pulling fiber from the stump or log. If the side weight tries to break the hinge it is usually better supported by end grain fiber of the stump.
  3. The Stump-Shot doesn't keep the tree from spinning or going off toward side weight and coming backward. If contact with another tree or limb takes place, after the notch has closed and hinge is broken, the control of the tree is not maintained by the Stump-Shot. It can still butt rebound. Smaller trees can roll off the Stump-Shot quickly and still butt rebound. 

So in conclusion there is nothing wrong with a calculated Stump-Shot in your plan, but just as with any part of a plan or technique, understand its limitations and its advantages. Success and safety is applying the right tool or technique from the plan bag and being totally aware of its purpose and or function. 

The Hinge is Your Friend! Make sure your notch allows the planned hinge to work properly during the fall and your back cut type and level maintains your ability to establish your hinge and move safely to your planned escape area as soon as the tree or limb begins to move. 

Always check your Chainsaw as per the Manufacturers Operators Manual and wear Personal Protective Equipment when working with a chainsaw in any operation.

For more information on formulating a work plan for you and your chainsaw — visit or contact our office at 770-543-9862 or email to arrange a training program for you or your organization. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Hard to Start....

Hard to Start…
by Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

A few changes to the newer saws regarding starting procedures have made old habits into new problems. You might want to do the unusual and read your operator’s manual to find the answer to many complaints from saw operators as to their saw being hard to start. 

I’ve noticed in training workshops there are those that have trouble starting the chainsaw. Some of the troubles can be related to the frequency of use. They simply forget the sequence of events to start the saw between operation times or they are unfamiliar with the saw brand or type. Some problems in starting however are because of the misunderstanding of the switch and starting procedures. We often overlook the need for basic instruction to prevent frustration - Like look at the manual or familiarize the operator with basic controls. If we are never taught correctly it definitely leads down a frustrating path. 

I also find that operators think it takes pull after pull of the starter cord to finally fire up the saw. I watch operators pull until totally exhausted - 20 pulls and still no running saw. I have adopted a rule of thumb in my starting procedures that works well for me… If you pull 7 times and it hasn't fired and or is running, there is something wrong. This helped me to develop the following process below and it’s usually very close to the instructions from the manufacturer’s operation manual.  Also, make sure the unit is properly adjusted. An improperly adjusted carburetor can make for a non productive and possibly unsafe operation. A simple 5 step run check can be found on our website or check the run procedures in your manufacture’s operators manual. Know how your equipment should run.

ALWAYS use Proper Protective Equipment when starting and or operating a hand held piece of power equipment.

If the engine has not been started (cold engine) -  

First make sure the proper mix of fresh fuel is in the tank and the air filter is clean. If the unit has an OFF/ON switch make sure it is in the ON position. Newer units may not have an OFF position. The engine is killed by momentarily pushing the switch to OFF. This makes it impossible to forget to turn the switch on but remember the engine could start by just simply pulling the starter cord.

Apply the Chain Brake. Make sure the cutting attachment is clear of all people and objects.

Pull out the CHOKE lever. Or move the control lever to the CHOKE/START position.

Assume the proper starting position, holding the saw firmly. 

Pull the starting cord until a slight pop it heard or the engine tries to run (no more than 7 pulls).

Push in the CHOKE lever or the control lever up one position to the fast idle position. 

Pull the starting cord again till the engine runs (no more than 7 pulls). If the engine starts in fast idle, simple depress the throttle trigger and release it to idle down. You don’t want to leave the engine idling fast with the chain brake engaged but don't release the chain brake with the engine in fast idle as the chain will spin. Slow the engine first by a quick press and release of the throttle trigger.

Release the chain brake and you're ready for work.

If the engine is warm and has been started (or you are unsure) - 

First make sure the proper mix of fresh fuel is in the tank and the air filter is clean. If the unit has an OFF/ON switch make sure it is in the ON position. Newer units may not have an OFF position. The engine is killed by momentarily pushing the switch to OFF. This makes it impossible to forget to turn the switch on but remember the engine could start by just simply pulling the starter cord.

Apply the Chain Brake. Make sure the cutting attachment is clear of all people and objects.

Assume the proper starting position, holding the saw firmly. 

Pull the starting cord (no more than 7 times), the engine should start and idle. 

If it doesn't start, pull out the CHOKE lever and push it back in or the control lever down and back up one position to the fast idle position. (Do not pull the starting cord in the CHOKE position of a warm engine. It will flood the engine and make starting even harder).

Pull the starting cord until the engine runs (no more than 7 pulls). If the engine starts in fast idle, simple depress the throttle trigger and release it to idle down. You don’t want to leave the engine idling fast with the chain brake engaged but don't release the chain brake with the engine in fast idle as the chain will spin. Slow the engine first by a quick press and release of the throttle trigger.

Release the chain brake and you're ready for work.

If it doesn't start with the warm start procedure go back to the cold start procedure above.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Future!

I have been "building on the basis" the past few years (now that I'm aging more every day) that the key to a great training system is to pass it along to key people to supply the knowledge to the masses. With the increasing need of safe, efficient chainsaw operators in storm cleanup, recreational trails, parks, Tree Care, forest management and fire control - employers and organizations are striving to build efficient and cost effective training. In the onset, many are finding without utilizing simplistic training formats that information becomes overwhelming and is not used in the workplace and especially not passed along in the workplace efficiently. I feel this is likely because of the comfort level of the student to instruct and the lack of time planning to maximize the training to co-workers.

I have been involved in preparing instructors in chainsaw applications, safety and maintenance for over 30 years. Not bragging, but I have had some effect on just about every instructor out there in chainsaw training companies today. Those that have chosen to use the simple instruction techniques that Soren Eriksson instilled in me, have all done an awesome job in reducing chainsaw industry accidents and incidents across the country and are profitable doing it.

These instructor techniques are available to key chainsaw operators and communicators in your organization and or company. 

I would like to discuss with you how we can maximize chainsaw operator safety and productivity in your future!  Concepts and cost can vary.... don't hesitate to contact us today.