Sunday, November 28, 2010

Our Action

Our Action
By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training Inc.

What is it thats thought to be so hazardous about chainsaw use? Often when people hear what I do they say something like, "do you still have all your limbs" or "a lot of people need that!" I guess this thought process is rightfully so as the CDC published a statement that said there are 36,000 chainsaw incidents a year occurring across the nation. That's just over 98 incidents per day! Most of the incidents that I hear are usually credited to the saws reactive forces of Kick Back, Push Back and Pull In.

A phrase I came up with years ago, that I use often, goes something like this, "I believe the majority of cuts or lacerations from a chainsaw happen not as much from the reactive forces of the saw but our reaction to its action."

What does this mean? In most of the explanations behind incidents, people share with me in my travels, there is a common thread that I hear coming through. I have listed some of what I hear...

I was stepping over a log...
I slipped and lost my footing...
The saw went through the limb and right into my knee...
I was moving some brush and my hand hit the chain...
The saw slipped off the limb...
I was moving brush and limbs for my friend that was sawing...
I was cutting some brush and the saw kicked and hit my leg...
The saw kicked and came right back into my shoulder...

What can we do to clearly understand and learn from these communications?

Check to make sure the limbs and logs we plan to cut are not in bind or under pressure that might be released, throwing the saw or causing us to lose control of the chainsaw.

Make sure the saw chain is sharp. Having to apply heavy pressure to the chainsaw to cut makes it much more difficult to react to any unplanned actions. The saw chain should cut the wood with very little or no pressure applied from the operator. It should cut about an inch of material per second. If not, it's time to sharpen.

When stepping over or really taking a step with a running chainsaw, use the chain brake as a parking brake. Simply let the saw idle, apply the brake, and your chances of contacting a moving chain is reduced. Moving around with a chain turning is a sure incident invitation.

Take care in selecting your footwear for the task. Heavy duty boots with hard toes, ankle support and good traction soles are important. If you work daily with a chainsaw you should consider the above with the addition of chainsaw resistance added to the design.

Keep both hands on the chainsaw at all times unless the chain brake is applied or the switch is in the off position.

Maximize your distance from the saw chain at all times. Watch and plan your position so as to give you as much reaction time as possible before you begin a cut. Don't lean over the cuts and always balance your weight on your feet to be able to control the forces of the saw and your balance.

Never cut with the saw above shoulder height while looking in line with the spinning bar and chain. When cutting vines or clearing low limbs turn the saw to the sided or on an angle, so as to not align yourself without the guide bar. A great tool for this task may be a pole saw instead.

Never cut a limb or any other material with someone holding it. Stand back from a chainsaw operator when they are cutting a minimum of 10ft. When the operator completes the cut then the material can be removed from the work area.

Personal Protective Equipment consisting of hard hat, safety glasses, hearing protection, chainsaw chaps, gloves and proper footwear offer the best insurance you can buy to reduce injury should an accident occur. Consider it part of a chainsaw investment.

Read and or re-read your owner's manual to familiarize yourself with your saws controls and other safety information it contains. This is especially true if you only use your chainsaw occasionally. Any tool will work better with practice.

If you would like to know more about available training programs for chainsaw applications visit

Tim Ard is a nationally recognized chain saw applications and training instructor with over 30 years of experience in communicating the mechanics and use of the chainsaw. He is founder and president of Forest Applications Training, Inc. He can be reached for questions at

(C) Copyright 2010 Forest Applications Training, Inc.

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Monday, November 22, 2010


I hope you are all set for a great week of Family, Friends and Turkeys!

Laura and I wish all of you the best during this Thanksgiving Time. We are so thankful for all of you and for the Magnormous Abundance God allows us to partake of in our training endeavors.

The article this week is regarding a few thoughts on the use of wedges and rope in your tree work. It can also be found on my Blog at pass it along to friends and workers.

I am pleased to announce a new endorsement relationship for 2011 with Elvex Corporation and its safety products. If you are not familiar, check them out at They have been producing PPE for Chainsaw Operators for many years and other safety items in several work industries. ForestApps will be assisting them with product marketing, dealer and distributor PPE education and most of all having a great time using their products and working with their great Elvex Team! I have been using Elvex products for about a year now and I am impressed with the design and quality. They will impress you too!

The upcoming week is a great time to look over items in our eStore for your holiday gift giving. Let me recommend or in stock items-- my Cross-Sight Height Gauge, The ForestApps eBook, Jeff Jepson’s To Fell a Tree, Original PFERD ChainSharp Tool’s and Elvex PPE. Just click the eStore link for our website –

Next week Rob Lagerstrom and I will be working to produce a new group of product awareness and use videos for Elvex here at my shop in GA. These videos, on several facets of PPE, will be available on the internet and DVD for your training use and viewing pleasure. If you would like to put your name on the list for these when they are completed, send me an email with Elvex Videos in the subject line and we will keep you personally updated as to when they are ready. The videos will be free to the first requesting...

And Thursday – Gobble Up!

Good Sawing,

Tim Ard
Forest Applications Training, Inc.

O 770.222.2511

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wedges and Rope...

Wedges and Rope...
By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

I have used wedges in directional felling of trees almost exclusively since my learning years with Soren Eriksson. He taught me to calculate how many wedges and what they can do; wedges assisting in lifting and supporting trees during the felling process.

When beginning to train with a lot of tree care and storm related workshops, I began to learn from the Arborist's the value of ropes and rigging. How to calculate what is necessary to understand the limitations and the right knot or attachment accessory to make the rope assist successful.

A Participant in a class recently explained it and defined my stand completely on Wedges and Rope work with trees... Don Roppolo said, "I always use a wedge when rope is used in felling a tree, but I don't always use a rope when I use a wedge."

Both the wedge and the rope do basically the same thing- they assist to lift or support a tree to a desired felling plan.

The wedge in felling can afford the chainsaw operator the ability to finish, or set up the felling cuts without the tree binding the saw. This eliminates the need to have someone or something pulling on a rope, while the sawyer is cutting, to keep the tree from binding the saw. The rope is a great tool if there is resistance in the top of the tree and to reduce the hammering of the wedge work.

I hope you realize the wedge or the rope will not steer a tree to a targeted lay. The notch and hinge is the control and steering in the plan.

How to place the wedge? How many wedges? How far to pull and just how much rope do you need?

It all starts to come together as you complete the plan...

For answers and or more information visit

Good Sawing!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, November 15, 2010

PFERD ChainSharp CS-X

I have written a new article outlining the first impressions of the NEW ChainSharp tool from PFERD.


Good Sawing,
Tim Ard

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Collect, Prepare and Promote

Collect, Prepare, Promote

By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

I am so fortunate to be part of an occupation and the operations of collecting, preparing and promoting information that eventually makes someone’s life easier, more efficient, profitable and hopefully safer. In whatever you endure and pursue in life the most gratifying is when you are afforded the opportunity to hear of and see positive results of your efforts. For someone’s life and wellbeing to be transformed by your actions and knowledge.

Years now I have been making an annual, sometimes bi-annual, trip to New England to hold workshops. From a training standpoint it has evolved from basic chain saw safety demonstrations, to having several three-day totally committed programs. Organizers are always striving to have large numbers of attendees at the demonstrations and to fill the specific programs. We by design know chain saw safety demonstrations were, and still are today, to excite attendees to continue forward. Continue forward with what training is all about - hands on events, then followed by practice and application. This makes training worth the time, cost and effort. The organizers in New England have done an awesome job with building an amazing training culture. People seem to love training in New England.

The training process related to any chainsaw application or operation doesn’t however end with the last day of a workshop or program. The process must continue in practice, updates and a continued search by the organizers and participants to stay aware, strengthening their safety culture - collecting, preparing and promoting.

Collect- Training in chainsaw applications and safety is a collection of processes. The process of collecting and understanding what you need in equipment, technique and application to make it all work with and for the person that picks up a chain saw.

Prepare –Training should prepare the chain saw user for the future task or operation. It must provoke them to think and plan, excite them to find out more and to use what they learn. It should prepare and provide them with a basis to build upon.

Promote –Training must promote a work habit, one that is used, spreads and grows from the inception. If it’s not fluid, if its not alive, the training will not evolve into a culture. Great training will and should be magically promoted by attendees to other work partners, crew, company and or organization.

Where to begin?

Well back to the chain saw safety demonstration. If it is to work successfully, training must excite an attendee to seek more. The first step of training according to most manufacturers and even OSHA is the operator’s manual. This is the written handbook or guide that accompanies the product. This product instruction manual usually covers basic switches, function basics, maintenance outlines and most likely any concerns involving generic safety of the item or product. All of you are very familiar with this information right? That’s the same with the second step and the reason for the large demonstration. It’s the second step in the process. It covers some basics in demonstration.

At 2am in the morning, with your headlights on a tree across the road, most likely you are not going to pull the owners manual out of your back pocket to review. It’s the reason to continue on with your training advancement to pick up processes or techniques to handle a different task easier.

That’s why it must be a culture like…. Collect, Prepare and Promote.

I present the reason for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), how the products work, the design and why it’s needed. I’ve done this in every demonstration I have made for years. The attendees are asked if they have chainsaw leg protection available and use it? If they do have it, over 70% don’t raise their hand that they use it every time they operate a chainsaw.

What about the other stuff- Hardhats, safety glasses, hearing protection?

It’s not a culture until it exists and is habit! More Collect, Prepare and Promote is necessary. Our ForestApps training can help you successfully change these issues.

Find out more on training and chainsaw related applications and safety at Contact- or 770.222.2511

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© Copyright 2010 Forest Applications Training, Inc.