Wednesday, December 21, 2011

All About The Notch

All About The Notch
By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

Not really, it's really all about the hinge but without the notch the hinge won't work. Does this sound complicated? It is complicated, but not really. Here's some Notch Knowledge...

-In falling, limbing and bucking techniques where movement with control is required, a notch is as important as the hinge. A notch establishes direction, movement of the stem or limb in the direction desired and allows the hinge to break from its back to front evenly and controlled.

-The back of the notch is the fulcrum point and balance point of the trunk and or limb's movement. It's relationship to the crown weight establishes forward and back lean.

-The notch placement, at a distance from the trunks back side, establishes the size of a lifting segment. Segments can assist in calculating wedge lift and pivot requirements.

-The notch establishes level in the cutting process. Your back cut or severing cuts should line up to the notch position.

-The depth of the notch into the tree face or limb diameter establishes control side to side. The depth of the notch gives the hinge its side lean support strength related to its length.

-The middle of the notch should be the middle of the trees diameter.

-The opening of the notch allows the smooth movement of the tree or limb to the target. Take for instance if the notch closes, before the hinge releases, the fiber must snap or pull. The stem or limb will shake and possibly break, shatter or Barber's Chair. This can be especially dangerous with fire damaged or dead tree tops during a fall.

-Make certain there is not a mis-match (Dutchman) in the corner of the notch. This will render the notch semi-inoperative. The by-pass will close with very little movement of the stem or limb.

-A notch of less than 70 degrees is lacking in operations. The opening should allow movement until the stem or limb reaches is desired placement.

Remember, anytime you start a chainsaw, first put on your personal protective equipment (PPE). Many injuries can be prevented or at least lessened by safety glasses, face shields, hard hats, ear protection (plugs or muffs), gloves, chainsaw chaps and heavy duty boots (chainsaw protective). .

The author is president and instructor of Forest Applications Training, Inc. a nationally recognized training company for chainsaw safety and productivity. Logging, Tree Care, State and Municipal Employees, Disaster Relief and home firewood and cleanup projects. For more information and any questions visit .

(c) Copyright 2011 Forest Applications Training, Inc.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fuel Solutions

Fuel Solution

By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

I was told many years ago that an equipment operator is only as good as the equipment he or she runs. This is true, not only in design, but also in their ability to deal with outside the design circumstance.

Fuels today offer a wide variety of instabilities for two stroke engines. They are formulated, by demand, to cater to the automotive side of engines. Small engines, like your chainsaw, blower and trimmer, are forced to try to burn it and survive.

We recently visited the plant and facilities of B3C Fuel Solutions in Conway, SC. The company has been developing and producing fuel additives for over two years now. They are growing rapidly as their products are impressing and filling distribution channels nationwide. They have the capacity to produce over 40,000 bottles a day of some very amazing fuel additives. I’ve been using, testing and becoming ever more convinced that their products are viable solutions to some present two-stroke fuel problems.

The additives are based on a formulation that is effective in both four cycle and two cycle engines and for both gasoline and diesel combustion. They add special formulations to focus the products to specific needs. Their Fuel Solution products are not a flammable but a combustable additive.

Mechanic in a Bottle for gas and diesel and their flagship Ethanol Shield are their top sellers. More info at

Explaining a few things I learned in the visit:

Storage and Fuel

All fuel types begin to degrade, attract moisture and oil mix separates over time. Most manufacturers of two stoke equipment recommend to store fuel in a properly labeled and sealed fuel can or supply tank. Only store for a max of 30 days unless stabilized and always buy 89 or higher octane gas.


Fuels today create or are oxygenated to maintain the light ends, or vapor, that improve its volatility. Ethanol does a good job of meeting this need but in this process however the more vaporizing ability of the fuel the more quickly a given volume can become unstable. Stabilizers are formulated to maintain the mix of petroleum gasoline, the ethanol and the oil additive to the blend.

The oil added for your two cycle will adhere to the petroleum gas but not as well to the ethanol added without some assistance. Some synthetic mix oils do blend better to the ethanol, but additives like B3C’s Ethanol Shield can be a big plus to this process. When the ethanol and gas go through a phase separation (which can happen from just temperature changes), it can leave a portion of your fuel going into your engine without lubrication.

Water and the burn

I heard years ago that all gasoline has some content of water that is contained in its volume. One aspect of water and fuel I didn't understand until recently is what happens when fuel burns in the engines combustion area that has a content of water. Mini explosions take place when the water meets the flame. It spreads the flame like fireworks, sparks and fire going in different directions.

I observed several additives that say they remove water. They did seem to accumulate it in the tests but when burned they popped, sparked, sputtered and almost seemed to explode the water uncontrollably. The B3C products made the water invisible and the mixture burned smoothly with none of the fireworks.


Additives in fuel designed to clean internal parts can have great results in some engines. If they are not compatible with the oil in two cycle fuel however, the situation can be detrimental. Some detergents cause the oil to suspend or not attach itself to the fuel molecule. This attachment is important to your two cycle engine lubrication. Ethanol added to gasoline is a strong detergent. Additives are necessary and important to allow the ethanol to mix and stay blended.

Fuel Volatility

As fuel ages its effective and controlled burn decreases. As the vaporizing ability and octane deteriorates the fuel becomes unstable and is erratic in the engine’s combustion. Fresh volatile fuel offers a controlled, even burn, under the engines compression and fire sequence. As volatility declines the combustion is like mini explosions and causes a hammering on pistons, bearings and other internal parts. This effect is called detonation.

Burn clean, reducing smoke output

In an ideal condition your engine should burn all the combusted fuel and air. Complete combustion properly reduces emissions that you breath and ejected into the atmosphere. Clean combustion also means the interior of your engine is not coated and covered with shellac and or carbon.

I watched several burn illustrations of an assortment of fuels and additives on the market. Most all of them had soot and carbon streaming into the air when the solution was burned. This illustrates what is happening inside the combustion and the exhaust process of your engine. When the B3C products were burned the flame was consistent and long burning with no recognizable smoking.

All in all, I am convince there are products that can help us though the ethanol issues at

For more information contact or visit our website

© Copyright 2011, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Professional Call

Professional Call
By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

The past week I have spent some time looking over comments and video following the recent snow storms on social media sites. You can learn a lot within today's electronic information. Because of the early snow, while leaves were still in place, they caused extensive tree damage across the country from Colorado to Maine. Crews from all over the area have logged many hours and miles traveling to assist with the reconstruction and clean up process.

Many of the comments reminded homeowners of the dangers of storm tree cleanup. To leave most of the tasks to a trained professional. I agree that a call to a professional is a wise choice in these storm situations. Homeowners and do it yourself fans need to be saw savvy enough to know when to put down the saw and pick up the phone.

I am a little disturbed however at what seemed to be "way too often" seen scenarios on the news and in photos. Professionals with a poor Professional Call for themselves. Now, don't get me wrong, the majority of the scenes having municipal workers and other professional's yielding chainsaws were properly equipped with PPE but it seemed to average only about half of the coverage. That means there are many,many professionals and even more homeowners who are unaware of the dangers, regulations, and even less the awareness and need for PPE.

It's a Professional's Call to protect themselves from some of the risks when operating a chainsaw. PPE is not going to keep an accident from taking place but it sure can help to reduce some of the injuries. It doesn't, just because you are paid, make you impervious to injury from tree and chainsaw incidents. Experience doesn't negate the pain. A professional should plan for, buy, and use every advantage they can to reduce those unplanned accident events. Professionals and occasional users alike all draw from the same pool of revenues, insurance and workers comp, to repair such incidents.

Whether a novice or professional the awareness of the operation dangers need to be sought out through written materials such as your operators manual, reputable video, or advanced training to handle the tasks. If one doesn't have properly maintained tools and Personal Protective Equipment they are not prepared for a storm cleanup operation. PPE includes a hardhat, face, eye and ear protectors, gloves, saw chaps and heavy boots. Make sure of these things before beginning work.

In Closing

If you are a homeowner with do it yourself ability, make sure you have invested in your safety planning, knowledge, sufficient training for skills and PPE. If you haven't done this for yourself- Make the Professional Call!

If you are a homeowner, contracting the services of a tree care or landscape crew, insist the crew is equipped with PPE and safely plans the project before you allow them to begin your work. If they are trained and experienced they will be properly equipped.

Make sure their Calling is as a Professional. It's a Professional Call!

The author is president and lead instructor for Forest Applications Training, Inc., PO Box 1048, Hiram, GA 30141. For more information on Chainsaw Safety and Applications Training send your questions and or comments to Visit our website at

(c) Copyright 2011 Forest Applications Training, Inc.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Power of a Storm

Power of a Storm
By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

We just made it to our next training location on the Cape of Massachusetts. Once again our travel to New England was on the heels of a record storm. First, hurricane Irene and this time one of the earliest record snow and wind storms on record, it's the end of October, not January.

Inches of rain, followed by ice, snow and high winds are damaging trees, taking out power lines. Inevitably the clean up process will be accompanied by reports of injury and death.

Every day it seems, somewhere in the nation, a storm, flood, ice, tornado, hurricane or wind has created situations that chainsaws are brought out of storage to handle. In today's neighborhoods though, another power source is often brought into play - generators.

In recent years generators have become more economical and many people are adding them to their homes for back up energy should the grid go down. For clean up operations however, it causes another safety incident area to be added to your planning process. Many generator owners do not properly install switch systems and sometimes even ventilation systems to safely use their generator for back up power.

A generator should not be ran inside a garage, room or basement where exhaust gases are not properly vented to outside air. Gas and diesel engines produce Carbon Monoxide that will kill you. Place generators outside! Allowing exhaust gases to float around inside your home or building will cause serious illness or death.

A generator used to power circuits in your home must be properly wired. A switch disconnect box must be installed to take your home off the public power grid or your generator will be flowing out and into the grid. You can't just simply plug a cord into you wall socket to run your refrigerator or lights.

A safety issue for cleanup operations

If you are not using a switch disconnect the power goes out into the grid's power lines and pole transformers that can take your little generator's voltage and amps and multiply it to killing power. You see, the power company has alerted workers and area volunteers that the power is off but, your generator isn't. It is energizing lines that someone may be working close to and unknowingly, not expecting, your power to attack them. So, properly wire your home connection or make sure to plug your power needs direct to the sockets on the generator. Save lives!

A Powerful Investment - V Watch
While at the ICUEE in Louisville, KY for I came across a tool that many chainsaw operators and teams need. It's called V-Watch by HD Electric Supply. This device is a small voltage detector that can be worn around your neck or attached to a pocket. When you come close to an energized power line it alerts you to the possible danger. This can be an important tool for today's disaster relief teams or for any city or town employees that are first response to storm damage.

Please remember, if you pick up a chainsaw - Put on your Personal Protective Equipment.

A great resource for chainsaw operators- First, your saw's operator's manual. Second, the Forest Applications eBook available from our links on and Barnes and Noble Booksellers.

For more information on chainsaw safety and storm applications training contact us at Forest Applications Training, Inc.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Dennis, MA

Saturday, September 17, 2011

APWA Congress

We flew out to Colorado on the 11th to conduct chainsaw workshops for Colorado LTAP in some of the most beautiful areas of the Rocky Mountains. The first near Telluride, CO. at about 10k feet. Colorado Springs was next, then the last workshop was in Longmont, CO. We had a blast with all the attendees... It is a breathtaking place to work in more than one way - beautiful scenery and thin air.

Sunday - Tuesday we are assisting Elvex Safety with a booth and presentation at the National American Public Works Association Congress here in downtown Denver, CO. APWA is expecting a good turnout for this year's congress and we hope to be able to meet many new contacts to carry on future training programs. Its always a pleasure working with the Elvex staff and talking to folks about their great PPE products.

I've been using and promoting Elvex PPE for right at two years now and I can still tell you I am very happy and the training customers who have converted to them are extremely pleased. The Tectra hardhats and attached hearing and face protection are awesome and the Prolar fabric in the leg protection and upper body garments are superior!

During the National Guard training, which was an instructor program, I assigned topics for the participants to instruct during class exercises. One group decided they would like to see how the chaps work and cut them with a saw. I had a pair of Elvex Arbor chaps with the Prolar padding that was donated to the educational cause. The soldier was determined to put them to the test and expected success in cutting through them. It was one of the most eye opening experiences of the training workshop. The Elvex chap stopped the saw effort in two layers of the pad. They were amazed and talked about the importance of getting other soldiers to make sure and wear their chaps when they pick up a saw... Have you committed to wearing them?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fiber… Hold On

Fiber… Hold On

By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

My Dad use to remind me of an old saying when it comes to finances, “It’s not how much you make, It’s how much you keep that makes one wealthy.” That analogy is fresh in my mind as the stock market continues to plummet today. Fiber and or money must have a good solid base to be strong, versatile and reach your goal.

Hinge wood is very similar to finances - It is important to plan a hinge of fiber that stays through the fall of the tree or limb, remains attached until the target goal is reached.

The hinge wood or holding wood, as it is sometimes referred to, is a strip of fiber which attaches the stump to the stem, limb or trunk as it’s falling in a removal process. It works very similar to a metal hinge placed on a door to keep it swinging perfectly to the latch. Strong, mechanical, yet flexible to accomplish the important task.

How do I know if the hinge fiber is good?

In short look! Examine the fiber as you begin your cut. Good fiber has some moisture content and is flexible to bend and consistently break from its back to its front.

In anticipation of inferior fiber you can perform several examinations.

  • Look at the outer surface of the tree for imperfections, loose bark, conks or other signs of decay.
  • Sound the tree for a solid or hollow sound when struck with your Shalaylee (correct spelling Shillelagh).
  • Inspect the area at the base of the tree for signs of insect dust or sap.
  • Observe any fire damage that may have effected fiber strength.
  • Check, after making your notch, for soft or rotted fiber behind the notch.
  • Cracks or rot in the hinge area.
  • Check the roots for signs of instability that may not support the hinge area.
  • Bore the area to examine fiber consistency.

Was it because of a certain tree?

People often ask if one tree’s fiber holds better than another. The answer is yes! However, its not as much dependent on the tree species as it is the specific tree in any given area. I find every tree is different, even if the same species. They can react differently because of the site, the weather, bugs, fire and environmental effects. So the hinge is directly effected by the material (tree) you are working with.

The back too…

Take time to observe potential fiber deficiencies over all the tree. If wedging, pushing or pulling is required, damaged or rotted fiber may not offer the support needed to safely complete the task. It may compress or even act as a pivot as you begin a cut. This could critically effect your success, so take the time, evaluate the possibilities before you begin a cut. Soft fiber, cracks or splits may not cooperate without a detailed plan for the situation.

What’s the results if I don’t?

If you make a plan, without taking good information, it’s not a plan. If you’re not focused on the material content of the hinge, it’s highly probable that it won’t be of consistency, strength and reliability to succeed. Looking for hazards and obstacles in initiating your plan is most important. However, following closely are the understanding of tree lean and proper hinge installation. If you don’t pay homage to these things you are working the wild side and destined to failure sometime soon. As they say, “ Make a plan and work the plan.” It’s the best way to keep what you make!

Know the hinge is your friend and rely on good fiber holding on to insure positive results.

This article is one of many being compiled to educate chainsaw users of the necessity of planning before attempting cleanup work following storms. Tim Ard is president of Forest Applications Training Inc., a national training company specializing in educating the chainsaw operator. For more information visit or message .

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Above the Notch

Above the Notch

By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

  • A storm has damaged a tree leaving a broken limb or top dangling. You can work with the situation and have a good escape plan - If nothing shakes the tree.
  • A tree should have been removed a season or two ago. The top has died and is beginning to drop limbs and bark. It’s leaning in an open direction and should fall without any issues - If nothing shakes too much, especially the top.
  • A tree has been badly burned during a hot fire. The top is brittle and doesn't look stabile but you have a good escape route. All should go well - If the top doesn't shake and break out during the fall.

The three scenarios above are very common but few recognize how a misunderstanding of simple notching mechanics could cause disaster.

Know the Boss

The hinge is your friend. It offers support and control of the tree, trunk or limb in your planned removal process, but the notch gives the hinge the opportunity to work. It’s the boss!

Picture the three cutting scenario’s above. Consider what could happen should the notch opening close. Whether cutting from the back or bore cutting the stem or tree, when it moves into a position where the notch opening closes, the hinge has to break or snap. Now, let’s say you have a 30 degree opening in the notch, the stem moves 30 degrees before the notch closes. If the notch opening is 30, 45, 90, 120 degrees, however wide the notch opening, it allows the hinge to work. When it closes, the hinge is broken. What happens to the end of the limb or the top of the tree when this closing and snapping are going on? It sends a whipping action and excessive shake up the stem or out the limb. If the top or end is unstable, as in the three discussed scenarios, the chance of them falling or breaking out is highly probable. Who is in control of the notch and its effects on the fall? You are, if you’re the sawyer and understand it....

It is so very important to consider the notch opening as you plan the tree’s movement. Make sure the notch opening will allow the hinge to stay attached until the limb or tree reaches the ground or is at least parallel. A straight tree with a 45 degree notch only moves half way to the ground before the hinge control is lost. An Open-Face Notch of 70 to 90 degrees allows the hinge to work all the way to the ground. It reduces chances of butt rebound, splitting, barber’s chair, pulled fiber and reduces the possibility of whipping and breaking the top back toward your planned escape route. Remember too, a Dutchman (or by-pass) at the notch corner reduces the opening to almost nothing. So make sure the notch cuts meet exact.

A sufficient and correct notch maintains minimum top shaking and movement... Above the Notch!

Tim Ard is president and lead instructor of Forest Applications Training, Inc., A training company specializing in safety and applications of the chainsaw operator.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Your Chainsaw and Old Fuel

Your Chainsaw and Old Fuel

By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

I recently was contacted by a friend who has taken on distribution of some new fuel additives that are designed for today’s fuels and their effects on small engines. We met and he went over some of the formulas that B3C Fuel Solutions has to offer. They focus on the moisture attracting properties of Diesel Fuel and Ethanol Enhanced Gasoline on the market today. How ethanol enhanced effects fuel and oil mixtures. They are concentrating now on the small engine, especially the chainsaw. This is where I come in.

I am cornered consistently by training attendees with these questions and others regarding proper fuel -

How long does gasoline today stay fresh in my saw or fuel can?

Today’s fuels are produced to burn cleaner and to reduce emissions. They have ethanol, detergents and other additives to accomplish this. Fuels today are not only more environmentally friendly but also better clean your internal engine parts for longer engine life. The addition of higher concentrations of ethanol to gasoline makes it a positive for volatility, cleaning and performance. However, with storage, drops stability and offers too many scrubbing bubbles, so to speak, for good chainsaw powerhead health. This evaporation of the positive’s limit the shelf life of your fuel in your saw or fuel can.

Small engine manufacturers are recommending to not store fuel without stabilizers for more than 30 days.

What does ethanol do to my chainsaw?

Ethanol will run great in a chainsaw if the carburetor metering and fuel supply parts are designed to regulate and contain it. It causes very little problems if you don’t allow it to sit or start to breakdown in your system.

Ethanol can be corrosive to aluminum, magnesium and because of the water collection properties, even some steel and other metals. It’s an excellent solvent, that because of its characteristics and water absorption, separates or even will inhibit the gasoline from mixing with the 2-cycle engine oil you are trying to blend with it. Ethanol can soften some fuel lines, dry out rubber parts and carburetor diaphragms and when it evaporates, leaves a slimy sludge and varnish that can stop up the best-designed fuel and valve trains.

So - without fresh gasoline mixed, without stabilizers, without water management, without proper carburetion and or adjustments- you most likely will have trouble.

Will my chainsaw run on E85 gasoline?

Your chainsaw, in its current state, will not run E85. It will not successfully adjust and live long with ethanol blends higher than E10 without parts upgrades.

I’ve never had any problems before. Why do I need to be concerned now?

The problem with ethanol-enhanced fuels is not so much the current blends but those coming to a pump near you soon. It’s going to be a battle between your auto fuel and your small engine fuel supplies and storage. All this is going to happen quickly as the push to E15, E20, E30 and E85 blended fuels are brought to market. Yes, the ethanol effects of engine corrosion, adjustment problems, water, etc. exist with E10 but it will all be magnified and multiplied with future blends.

Now there may be hope! (Back to my first paragraph…)

B3C Fuel Solutions has two products that can assist with today’s ethanol woes and they are working diligently to hold future fuel issues at bay.

Mechanic in a Bottle and Ethanol Shield from B3C –

  • · Fix the fuel system & deep clean the carburetor without removal, even on non-running engines
  • · Revitalize old fuel and delicate fuel system components safely
  • · Cleanse power robbing carbon deposits from the engines internal components
  • · Stabilize the fuel to ensure quick starting

Ethanol Shield from B3C –

  • · Remove water to prevent Phase Separation
  • · Protect the rubber & plastic components from ethanol
  • · Stabilize the gasoline to ensure quick starting and prevent stale fuel

Fuel Test Kit from B3C –

  • · A simple swab test that will tell you what condition your fuel is in.

My Test

I had an old saw that my father had for years. He passed away five years ago. I know he didn’t use the saw for at least a year before he passed. I had it stuck back on a shelf in the shop. Long to short, the fuel in the saw’s tank was over 6 years old. You can see in the photos what it looked like when I poured it into a glass for my test of Mechanic in a Bottle.

The fuel was almost black in color, stunk to high heaven, and I was amazed to see that it had no signs of water in the tank. Most likely no ethanol was in the fuel tank. Well, since there was no visible water, I added three tablespoons to it. You can see the water in the bottom of the glass.

I first added one ounce of MIAB to the fuel and stirred it up. It seemed to absorb a little of the water quickly and the fuel color lightened slightly. I decided to add the whole four ounces of MIAB to the glass since the instructions said I couldn’t overdose the fuel. I also figured it would have to have a pretty good initial dose of MIAB to absorb all the water I added.

I covered the glass and let it sit for almost 48 hours. When I returned, I stirred the solution, which had really lightened a lot in color, and it only seemed to have just a little amount of the water left in the bottom of the glass. When I stirred it up, it appeared the water disappeared and when allowing it to just sit about ten minutes only a small spot of water seemed to reappear. I was amazed!

Then the supreme challenge – will the fuel run in a chainsaw? I took my saw, started to make sure it ran ok. Cleaned the fuel out of the tank, then poured in the old gas solution. I did try to not pour any of the water residues into the tank. There wasn’t much left in the bottom of the glass.

I pulled, it started, and I ran it for a couple minutes or so to make sure it had pulled the old fuel from the tank. The adjustments seemed to change slightly but the saw ran just fine.

Pictures and video are downloadable at

Now that’s some extreme old fuel and I wouldn’t recommend trying to revitalize gas mix that’s that old. But I was amazed that the old gas with the MIAB would run. I’ve experienced fuel, not nearly that old, to be dead as a doornail.

I’m working on a test with carburetor adjustments and the Ethanol Shield to see how it works. They may have the solution…

Tim Ard is president and lead instructor of Forest Applications Training, Inc. a national chainsaw safety and productivity training company. For more information contact us

© Copyright 2011 Forest Applications Training, Inc.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cracks and Splits

Cracks and Splits

By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

One of the most unpredictable and dangerous situations confronting us in storm damage and sometimes rotted trees, is the too often presence of cracks, shatters and splits in the tree trunks, logs and limbs. There are somewhat natural windshakes, or cracks, in most standing trees but when wind, tornados, hurricane, fire or bugs start working on a tree - multiple cracks, splits or crevices tend to make planning and control an even greater concern.

Cracked, split and twisted fiber in storm broken limbs and downed trunks can be shattered and twisted into many strands. Just cutting through the log when in this condition can be challenging. Every cut releases a fiber strand that attempts to grab your saw chain and with moving weight loads tries to pinch your saw chain and guide bar.

A standing tree, that’s been fire damaged or has started the drying process at near deadwood state, sometimes creates vertical splits. Some I have seen are impossible to plan around and in these cases you are even taking a chance to make a cut unto them. The tree may collapse vertically, or twist and shatter heading in an unpredictable direction. Often times, if the tree is vertically straight, even equipment pushing or pulling is too risky. Maybe this is a good application for dynamite or a planned knock down by another tree. These killers are found often in the Western USA but you can find plenty of them in the all the states.

Winston Rall, USFS, sent me this photo of a shell of a tree from out in his part of the country. That’s a hardhat stuck in a crack in the trunk…. As I said, some trees may need dynamite.

One technique option for more simple cracks or shatters may be a bore or plunge cut. They can be used to remove tension or shorten fiber length to make it possible to cut some split fiber situation. Using a bore cut slightly before or after twisted fiber may allow you to take tension out of the log or limb.

I received the following message from a Massachusetts contact:

Tim, I was in the May class in Southbridge that you taught for basic skills and storm cleanup. On June 2nd, we had an F3 touch down in Massachusetts. The skills you taught us were extremely useful in the cleanup following the storm. The hinge is truly my friend! Yesterday, I took down a 20 ft. remnant of a red oak that had been stripped of its bark. The top had been smashed off also, leaving the remainder of the trunk splintered in many pieces but still vertical. To take it down, I notched each separate splinter as if it were a separate tree, making a plunge cut for my back cut. From this plunge cut I would make my back cut for the next piece. This allowed me to fell each piece in a controlled manner exactly where I wanted it to go. Thank you for the training. I have been telling anyone that will listen what a great training program you have. Thanks again, Butch Meyer

Offset cuts can be used to remove shattered fiber. Cut the compression side first and then offset the cut on the tension side. Cut a distance just far enough to intersect the fiber you cut from the compression side, but do it a distance left or right of the compression cut to stay to the edge of shattered/split area.

Be very careful that the split, crack or shatter is not under bowed tension. They can mimic a spring pole in this scenario. When you cut, the fiber may attempt to straighten and move rapidly. Watch your position and the cutting location. Try to cut in the middle of any formed arcs.

I plan to put some of this into video form this fall along with several other techniques for applications in storm debris clean up. Until then, a great way to visualize a lot of these techniques in action is to attend one of our three-day storm debris and falling workshops. More information at

Good Sawing!

Tim Ard is president and lead instructor of Forest Applications Training, Inc. a nationwide training firm for operators in all chainsaw applications.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Stuck in the Storm

Stuck in the Storm

By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

We have all been there...take down a tree or we’re removing a tree already down from a storm and begin to make a cut on the trunk or limb. The wood grabs our saw with a vengeance before we can complete the cut. Yes, it’s happened to me one time a long, long time ago (Right, it’s a lie. Maybe twice...). If you cut trees it’s a fact, you will occasionally get stuck. The challenge is to limit the occurrence's and you can if you understand why and plan well.

When you make cuts with a chainsaw you have to constantly take information on compression and tension. Compression is the side of the pressure or bind in the log or limb that will close the kerf cut, pinching your saw bar. Tension is the opposite side, the side that will open away from your bar during the cut or movement of the limb or log. These reactions, I will call them, can take place from side to side, up and down or even at some unexpected angles, as the weight and pressures in the wood are released. There are a few common scenarios to plan around.

Open Air

In this case the smaller log or limb is supported by air or it is simply a limb that is coming from the trunk and is not touching anything at the end. Its not supported in other words. The compression side is on the bottom of the limb. The Tension is on top. You can simply make a severing cut from the top and the limb falls.


What if it’s a heavy limb? What if the limb has weighted branches to one side? In this case the limb may split or begin to twist as you cut and it still pinches your chain and or saw bar. You have to anticipate the movement and out-cut the separating wood fiber. A notch or deeper compression side kerf cut is important here.

End Support

The log or limb is touching or supported on two ends or two pivots. It has a downward movement potential between the two points of support. The wood wants to drop in the middle. Top compression is found in this scenario.

Side Object

If a limb or trunk is against a side object, like a tree or anything that is applying pressure on the piece sideways. This may also be determined to be a horizontal spring pole. The compression is going to be usually on the away from object side or the inner arc side.

Other Considerations

Pivots may be formed by objects or limbs supporting the limb or trunk above ground level. Back pressure can be formed by the limb or log being more vertical or up against something in the end pushing backward. There can also be situations formed by fences, cables, electric lines, etc that require additional caution and specialized training.

In all the scenarios above, and there are many more actual situations that can be met in the field, it is so, so, important to have a good planning process to assess the needs and dangers before making each cut. Hazards, Side Pressures, Up and Down Pressures, Back Pressures and the Individual Cut Technique must be confirmed.


Next, I’ve planned and decide to make a cut, why do I still get stuck? It could be because trees grow in circles.

Picture the growth rings on a round piece of wood. Every ring (in most climates) represents a year of growth. Each ring is supporting the growth of the tree or limb cylindrically. As you cut through from any side, according to the shape of the cylinder at that given point, you remove support fibers. When the weight or pressure over comes the strength of the growth ring a split or twist usually (will) occurs. This split or twist can also be accompanied by unsightly peels of bark and outer growth layers. Most often this combination causes pinches of the bar and saw chain.

I am convinced the number one thing that causes the stuck is the weight and pressures that move the wood piece during the cut, sometimes very quickly. Because limbs and logs grow in circles it is very hard to determine at what point in the cut the fiber will separate or twist. When this happens, stuck city....

When you make a straight cut into the round wood piece, the externally applied pressures in the growth rings begin to separate. They push outward at the side corners of the cylinder rings and this causes resistance and splitting of the fiber. If again there is weight or pressures, it can cause you to become stuck in these separating fibers.

You must always observe the compression and tensions working. However, a cut or notch on the compression side can reduce the chances of unexpected fiber release and movement. Understand that just a straight cut creates a kerf (slot) but if the piece can only move the width of the kerf, when it closes, other pressures are created at the end of the kerf. A straight cut will often relieve the bind or twist of the cylinder fiber but binds and pulls can still be expected. Also, think about that in the kerf there are end grain fibers that should they bind against your bar or saw chain are like vise jaws. Stuck city...

A very useful technique I have been shown to virtually eliminate the compression side bind is to use a notch, or even simpler the slide notch, on the compression side. A slide notch, just to a depth of as little as a couple growth rings, will relieve the outward pressure at the ring growth and stops the split and or fiber pull. Outcome - Less bar and chain pinches.

Please understand that storm damaged trees and limbs are heavy and often are twisted and loaded with pressures and binds. You need to be familiar with these issues before picking up the chainsaw. Personal injury or property damage does not offset the perceived savings of not calling a professional or seeking special training first.

Should you decide to DIY, please make the investment in Personal Protective Equipment to hopefully lessen an injury should an accident, unplanned event, occur. Visit

Good Sawing!

Tim Ard is President of Forest Applications Training, Inc., a training company for chainsaw safety and operations techniques. For more information on training send a question or request to or visit

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Going Ballistic!

Going Ballistic
By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

If I understand how something works- I better understand the need for it or maybe how to use it. Chainsaw operators have been going ballistic over leg protection for many years now. I want to share with you a few thoughts.

The term ballistic nylon is used to describe the fibers recommended for leg protective (PPE) garments for the chainsaw. It actually is derived from fibers used in making bullet resistant body armor. One of the first and still used today is Dupont Kevlar, a very strong and durable yellow colored fiber. Fibers of this type were first developed and used in belting for automotive tires and other applications requiring reinforcement with flexibility. This reinforcement fiber was heat resistant as well as strong and soon found it's way into leg protection for logging and the US Forest Service. The USFS requires the fabric to be highly flame resistant because of their use related to forest fires.

Today there are several fiber types used for chainsaw leg protection. Many people still consider the fibers used in all leg protection as "Kevlar", similar to many call soft drinks a "Coke."

Whatever you call chainsaw leg protection fiber, it is the best insurance we can wear against chainsaw injuries to the legs. Let me state something here - No leg protection is to be considered cut proof. It is designed to give you reaction time and hopefully limit, lessen or reduce, the injury should the chainsaw come in contact. Several Manufactures test their pads and garment design to the ASTM standards for the North American Leg Protection Standard. Look at the label on your chaps, or the ones you are considering, you should find a label showing their compliance to this standard. Usually you will find the label of classification to the standard by the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) that performed the test.

Now understanding some of the technical aspects of leg protection let's discuss some typical concerns that may inhibit their use.

During a recent storm clean up following tornados in North Georgia, one of my good friends, Robert Albritton of Tree Works Unlimited observed a chain saw operator without any PPE. Robert, wanting to offer help to those volunteering, asked the young man if he were to get him a pair of chaps from the truck would he wear them? The young man replied, "I wouldn't want to mess up your chaps sir." Robert told him not to worry about that, but still no way he was going to accept Robert's offer. Robert is a professional who recognizes the importance of PPE with his employees and himself. When an unplanned incident (accident) with a chainsaw takes place, two top at risk areas for lacerations are - the legs.

Folks (being a Southerner and caring), you can compare chaps to ballistic body armor here. You can be a soldier or police officer without body armor but if you get hit by a bullet would you want to have it or not? The same is true relating to leg protection while using a chainsaw. Why wouldn't you want to make the investment and take the time to put it on if it could save your life or limb?

The past year I have had the opportunity to learn a great deal about products from Elvex Safety. Their leg protective pads designed with Prolar Fabric is a combination of white fibers layered specifically for chainsaw protection to maximize the chain jamming effect. If or when the chainsaw makes contact, these fibers work hard to maximize reaction time. It's not just the fibers, it's also how the woven pads are arranged and layered. Elvex works well!

Thinking about Going Chainsaw Ballistic? Consider Elvex Safety...

Learn more about leg protection with information and video presentations on the site ( ). There is a video showing the parameters of the ASTM testing ( and also one showing me cutting into a chap leg. When you see the Prolar Pads in action you will agree as I do... Never operate a chainsaw without them!

Good Sawing!

Tim Ard is president of Forest Application Training, Inc. . Elvex Safety is a sponsor of Forest Applications Training Programs.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Planning A Storm

Planning A Storm
By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

To plan a storm… sounds strange doesn't it? We really shouldn’t need to plan a storm; they seem to happen too often and too frequently as it is. There is some type of storm, flood or natural disaster that seems to be taking place somewhere in the U.S. and around the world daily. So why plan?

When the storm hits, no matter what type and where, one of the first tools that’s requested and called into action is guess what? The chainsaw. Thought of to be one of the top dangers of all tool operation, second possibly to only the devastation of the storm itself, is called into action to begin the clean up operations. So why plan? Why plan the storm?

An accident is an unplanned event! So, during storm clean up, here are a few scenarios to consider planning around:

A volunteer, wearing running shoes, steps on a board with a nail in it and punctures his foot through the soft bottom of the shoe.

A volunteer, moves a limb to a pile beside the road, passes another volunteer and the second is struck in the eye.

A man cleaning a lawn, under a willow tree, is hit in the top of the head by a small falling limb and it stabs him in the top of his head causing injury and a quick trip to the emergency room.

A chainsaw operator cuts a storm fallen tree. The root system, bent over underground, and when the trunk is severed the remaining trunk stands rapidly back up. A child was in the area playing while adults were working the tree clean up. The child was crushed and killed under the roots.

A homeowner rushes around his property after a storm trying to pick up debris and remove a fallen tree in his back yard. He approaches the fallen tree and steps on a wire, thinking the power is off, and is electrocuted.

A chainsaw operator with a recently purchased saw was pushing, the now dulling or dull saw, through a limb on a storm fallen tree. The limb was bent and loaded with pressure and when the saw finally made it through the cut the saw was thrown quickly back toward the operator’s left leg. He was rushed to the emergency room.

A storm clean up volunteer was assisting, by pulling brush and limbs to a pile behind a chainsaw operator. As the limb was pulled it caused a pinch of the saw bar and the operator pulled the saw free and into his right leg just above the ankle.
A worker was assisting a chainsaw operator by pulling brush from the debris line. The chainsaw operator turned around, not knowing the position of the worker, and cut the worker pulling brush in the right arm.

A chainsaw operator is cutting a top clear on a wind broken tree when another chainsaw operator decides to fell the standing trunk. The operator on the top is quickly knocked down with his saw to the ground.

I have spoken to many groups over the years on chainsaw applications and most deal with the use of a saw after a storm at some point. The stories above- all came from real stories related to me during breaks and conversations.

I have found, in my experience anyway, that once a storm takes place it’s too late for training. Yes, review can be suggested and plans can be formulated but the information needed to be in practiced regarding saw maintenance and cutting techniques will not be taken into use and reality once the volunteering at the work site begins. Unless, the basis of knowledge is already in place the safety will not be in place.

Safety is an awareness of the things that can cause accidents and injury. You cannot put together a plan to prevent accidents if you are unaware of the issues that may cause them.

Volunteer groups have been organized in several areas across the country for cleanup work on recent floods and tornados. Organizing groups like the Baptist Disaster Relief and Samaritan’s Purse have extensive training programs to train volunteers prior to storm needs. FEMA and the Red Cross teams utilize these organizers as well as their own. However, there are many Church and Civic Organizations that want to help, and because of the many needs, thousands of volunteers approach storm clean up operations with little or no awareness training.

A smaller organizer(s) should work hard to plan the storm! Seek the experience of some of the larger groups for training prior to the need. Understand please that you cannot wait until the need arises to gain the training knowledge and awareness. At a minimum, the need to have key people trained to be able to organize the volunteers and have needed equipment and tools ready to go should be in place.

From a chainsaw operations standpoint:

Have your equipment ready to go. The chainsaw(s) to be used must be in top working condition. The Operator’s Manual should accompany the saw along with any necessary tools specific to the unit. Operators should be familiar with the particular saw type before work begins.

Spare guide bars and saw chains should be with the saw(s) to the storm worksite.

Mixed fuel and chain oil should be located and supplies planned ahead to accomplish the work.

Sharpening systems must be considered and or located and an operator must practice and understand when a chain is sharp and dull. When the chain needs sharpening. A dulled saw chain is relatively more dangerous in storm damage work.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is to be required of all chainsaw operators on the worksite. NO exceptions! Head, eye, ear, hand and leg protective wear as well as boots should be on all chainsaw operators. If volunteers show up with chainsaws they should not use them on the worksite without having proper PPE in place.

A plan of work for the area involving the chainsaw operators should be formulated and supervised by the trained organizing/team leader. The chainsaw operator’s tasks should begin with lead-time from the dragging, brushing and moving debris work. In some cases larger equipment will need to be in place in the plan before ground volunteers/workers are brought into the worksite. The work of pulling and moving the debris must be time spaced after the sawing. It doesn’t have to be more than just a few minutes separated, but distance (time space) needs to be between chainsaws, equipment and workers on the ground moving debris.

Workers do not hold limbs, logs, etc for the chainsaw operator’s to cut.

Large equipment does not hold limbs or logs for chainsaw operators to cut. Move it to location for safe cutting.

Workers/volunteers moving debris by hand should have heavy-duty footwear with traction soles. Preferably high top work boots with ankle support. No running shoes, sneakers or sandals allowed. Safety glasses and work gloves are required. If debris, limbs and standing trees are still over the worksite, hardhats are required. In some site conditions a dust mask is required. According to the task, but especially with tree debris work, long pants and long sleeve shirts are proper work apparel.

You may think of a few more bullet points for storm planning that can be added to these. I am continuing to compile more as I think though what’s needed in different storm scenarios. Elvex Safety has agreed to sponsor and produce a storm planning video to include these thoughts and also the most important cutting techniques related to chainsaw operations. Visit and subscribe to our free ChainPoint eNews for more future details.

Forest Applications Training, Inc. is a training company with over 20-years of history specializing in chainsaw applications and safety for logging, tree care, government agencies and disaster relief. Tim Ard is the President and Lead Instructor and has conducted chainsaw training in over 40 states. For information call 770-222-2511 or write .

© Copyright 2011 Forest Applications Training, Inc. Reprint with permission acceptable.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, May 2, 2011

Kick Back...

Kick Back...
By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

Too often I hear the term used... Someone using a chainsaw and a cut happens to someone's leg or other body area and the culprit is defined as... Kick Back.

Kick Back, from a chainsaw definition, is a reactive force that is produced by the rotating saw chain as it ascends around the upper guide bar nose. When the saw chain is touched or pinched as it goes around this area, the reaction is an upward rotation of the guide bar tip, it rotates upward in the direction the bar is aligned. Too often toward the operator.

It is my own theory, collected from questioning those attending class that have been previously cut with a chainsaw, that many times the term Kick Back has two definitions. The second occurrence is not related to the chainsaw directly, but to what it is cutting. Many times the chainsaw is thrown back toward the operator by the pressures held in the wood material or limb being cut. One such situation is what we describe as a Spring Pole. You can read more about Spring Poles in articles on our website

Other situations that may cause a saw to be thrown toward the operator may be described as movement caused by side binds, weight and pivots that are sometimes difficult to recognize as we make cuts with the saw on a downed tree. The tree may be over a stump, ridge or other pivot that when cut may come up or go down quickly when the piece is severed. A limb may be held down on the end and when a covering limb or support is severed the movement can be inches or in some cases feet. This quick movement can surprise even the best of us.

The answer to controlling either type of Kick Back? Plan each cut thoroughly. Make sure your footing and body position are such to control any saw movement. Maximize your reaction time by considering the possible movement of the material or the chainsaw. Use a sharp saw chain when working. Pushing and pulling on a saw, because of dull chain, is not something you want to deal with when standing next to material that may be loaded. Pushing may even further load the situation too...

Always wear Personal Protective Equipment when operating a chainsaw. Even the best of plans may miss a little something and could end in an unplanned accident event. PPE can sometimes lessen an injury should an accident occur...

Kick Back of any type is important to understand and your ability and knowledge of it is the key. Read about it in your chainsaw's operators manual and then visit our website for more applications.

More info at

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chap up...

Chap Up…

By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

Chainsaw operators for many years have known about the positive aspects of the leg protective saw chap. Every month though it seems I come across people that didn’t know chaps are available and don’t understand how they work nor their ever increasing need to put them on.

Loggers in the Western USA and the US Forest Service have been using them for decades now and they are increasing in popularity in all the states. Why you say? Because it hurts to be cut by a chainsaw and many of the injuries happen to the operators legs.

Leg protection garments work from what is called the process of jamming. The fiber padding in the chap leg is designed to pull out and jam the chainsaw chain, bar and sprocket to slow the speed of the saw chain and intentionally stop the chain rotation. The process doesn’t mean in every situation that chaps will prevent injury but the intention is to give reaction time and hopefully reduce the injury should the accident occur. I hear almost weekly testimonies of how chaps prevented cuts in accident situations.

Most all leg protection garments have a layered pad of what is called ballistic nylon. These nylon fibers are used in bullet resistant body armor, thus the term ballistic came about. Some are out of a fiber that is white in color and often called warp-knit. Some of the first on the market were from DuPont’s Kevlar® which is a yellow colored fiber. Some others have a combination of both fibers. The fiber is important but the real ability to work with the saw chain is how it’s woven and how the multiple layers are constructed in the pad.

A relatively new padding on the market is available from Elvex Safety. The fiber combination is called Elvex Prolar®. This Prolar® material, used in their leg protection products, is designed specifically for chainsaw leg protection. The material when hit by the moving saw chain pulls out and wraps the saw drive system as others but then it appears to explode (so to speak, it expands) and jams quickly. The result is a new generation Elvex ProChaps tested in compliance by Underwriter’s Laboratories in accordance with ASTM F-1414, Measurement of Cut Resistance to Chain Saw Lower Body Protective Clothing.

It is important too that leg chaps are comfortable and the design is such that it covers the legs in a fashion that reduces the chance of twist. If the straps are uncomfortable or the position of the leg pad is not positioned correctly, the chain will find its way to your leg. A design that seems to work best with this twist possibility is one called asymmetric. The pad is positioned slightly to the left of the chap leg to aid in preventing the twist, giving more coverage area and reaction time.

Outer materials of the garment you choose is related to the amount of wear you plan. There are lighter weight and heavy weight outer materials, usually of Cordura® fabrics. The pads are the same, so it doesn't effect their protection. There are a variety of sizes and lengths however that can effect safe coverage. You want to make sure to cover from your groin area to the top of your footwear. Also available are full wrap designs that cover the back of the leg, your calf area.

Two labels important to look for when purchasing are the testing classification label and the care instruction label. Make sure your chaps are designed for chainsaw protection and that you can easily clean them when they become soiled. Dirty, oil soaked protection pads may reduce the ability for the chain to pull out the jamming fibers and enable it to better cut through. Keep them clean…

My emphasis during training workshops is to never use your saw without Leg Protection and other important PPE items of Head, Hand, Eye, Ear, Face and Foot Protection. The ever-increasing need I wrote of earlier is simply - it costs more to repair you, a friend or family member, than ever before. Make sure you have it and use it!

For more information visit our website

© Copyright 2011 Forest Applications Training, Inc.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Storm Training

Storm Debris Training

By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

This article outlines a program that is going very well in our portfolio of training workshops. It is the ideal third level day to our hands-on chainsaw training. The workshop is formatted to follow our two-day workshop on felling because a thorough understanding of planning and the workings of the hinge must be in place to maximize the day in pressures and binds.

The workshop begins with a review of planning the worksite and then focuses on each individual cut made on the downed storm tree. Storm hazards, pressures and binds and then a variety of techniques are shown and explained. Ever used hinges to remove a tree that is wind thrown, hung or up against a cable or object? Are sharpening and adjustments of your chainsaw important? All is covered in this workshop.

The day is formatted with the hands on fieldwork accomplished in teams, which is important to most all storm work. Learn to communicate with others in your team and work the tree with minimum fatigue and avoiding workplace injury.

For more information or schedule a Storm Debris workshop contact or Forest Applications Training, Inc. office. Ph. 770-222-2511 or email Contact us today… storms happen daily.

Sunday, April 10, 2011



By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

The past week I have had several great experiences with workshops across Pennsylvania. As always, it is a pleasure to meet and learn from attendees and pick up understandings, new ways of communicating, chainsaw applications and safety for the future. Some thoughts came to me that I would like to share with you… on Technique.

What is a Technique or where do Techniques come from? Technique is a way of doing something that someone has been taught or learned from one’s experience in accomplishing a task. Sound logical?

How do we know what we are using is the best, safest Technique for the application? Is it because we have seen it, believe in it - or is it because we tested with our plan the Technique’s ability to accomplish our task…. Luck or fact? Experience!

I published an article recently on (taking/observing) tree lean information in the planning process. It’s how I was taught to make sure the information of lean, that I observe and confidently place into my felling plan, would afford me accurate results. The way I was instructed seems to be different than a lot of understanding out in the field. I understand there may be other ways to read the weighted lean of a tree but you know the lean is only part of a great, safe and productive way of felling a tree.

So, how do I know a good Technique? What’s right? What’s wrong?

Simply to begin the answer, lean is not a Technique, part of, but not a Technique. It is one of the most important parts of forming a complete plan and final Technique selection. It remains the hardest part of tree felling for most of us to grasp. It’s a major reason trees go directionally wrong. Because of lean we commonly find our position to be in the wrong place and someone or our saw pinched by the unexpected movement of the tree.

Now, to pass along my thoughts of the Technique selection process I have to better understand every part. For making my point, I am choosing to seek a better platform or illustration of the way lean effects the Technique used in felling a tree.

Technique Exercise

To complete the experiment you will need (1) a string and (2) a weight of some type on the end of the string. You also need (3) a piece of paper with a line drawn on it or a line drawn on the ground. Ready?

Make a plumb line by attaching the weight to the string. Allow the weight to swing free on the string. You have now built a plumb line that will designate a measure of gravitational pull. The weight now centers itself to the earth.

Draw a line on a piece of paper or the ground. That line represents your holding wood or hinge on the stump of your tree. It’s the pivot point or fulcrum on the stump that the tree will pivot on, forward or back. This exercise is illustrating only forward or back lean. (If the hinge does not break and holds the tree attached, the side weight is not a factor in the fall. As with a door, the tree will pivot to the targeted latch on the hinge).

Hold the plumb line in your hand above and on the line (hinge). Your hand represents the center of the crown of the tree. Now line up the plumb line with the line on the ground. At this position your tree is perfectly straight, balanced on the hinge.

Now move your treetop (hand) backward. You have just moved your tree crown’s center weight behind the pivot. The weight of your tree and crown just became back lean.

Move your treetop (hand) forward. You have just moved your tree crown into a forward position in relationship to your pivot hinge. Your tree just became a forward leaner.

Just as you could not deny or change the reading of gravity by your plumb line, you cannot deny the fact that the center weight of your tree crown, in relation to the pivot line (hinge), places the center of your crown into a forward or back lean condition.

Understanding the above, the face notch does not make the tree lean, tilt or swing. The notch allows the hinge to work during the pivot on the hinge but doesn’t change the trees weight movement. With this understanding, if your back cut is not considering the forward or back weight movement in position of the hinge, you will lose control of the tree or the tree will set down on your chainsaw bar. The tree must be supported (wedge or rope) or lifted forward from back lean positions.

Not to have an unplanned, accident event… you must look for Hazards and obstacles, measure and note the two Leans, prepare and use an Escape or retreat path, have a clear plan of Hinge placement and dimension and finally Back cut the fiber up to the hinge, supporting the tree or releasing the tree at a preplanned predetermined time.

Before you begin cutting – Prepare and wear your P.P.E. Make sure your saw is up to condition. If you do not know these, review your manufacturers’ operator’s manual before you pull the starter rope.

There’s not a reason to debate other issues of tree falling until you understand how to measure the two leans and assess the other areas of plan information to form a solid Technique.

I hope this article helps? Questions or comments? Contact Tim by email

Visit for more information on planning, techniques and training the operator in chainsaw applications.

© Copyright 2011 Forest Applications Training, Inc.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Clearing the Road

Clearing the Road
By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

If a storm or natural process leaves debris for you to utilize your chainsaw skills on, what do you do? The treetop is in the road and you and your saw have to make movable pieces of it. Where you start may mean the difference between a little work and a lot of hard risky work. It could even mean injury or death to you or someone else with you.

So what do we do? How do we make a plan to complete this task the quickest and best that it can be done and safely...?

In most implementations of the storm cleanup process I see (and hear of), the operators simply grab a chainsaw, start it up and begin cutting the end of the tree that's over the road. Sound familiar? Is there another way?

A couple thoughts, I guess you could call them techniques; I've come to appreciate...

• Look over the situation at hand from several angles. Walk around and identify any hazards overhead and around the project. Are there saplings or limbs bent over creating spring poles in the work area.
• Identify any possibility of roll over or twisted side binds that you see. Could your feet and legs be quickly swept out from under you by side-to-side a movement?
• Is the trunk and now horizontal canopy going to come down with each cut or may that cut unleash up pressure that may come at you.
• What about backpressure from limbs imbedded and pushing back or the possibility of the tree sliding forward or down an embankment.
• Know the top four information steps before you make a cut. Repeat them over and over as you plan and execute each cut.
• Make sure your chainsaw is running up to the manufacturers specs and that your saw chain is sharp and cutting at it's best. Pushing and pulling are not techniques that are neither beneficial nor safe when cutting downed debris.

Does your plan begin at the crown in the road? Could it be that you could better accomplish the task to clear the road or area by starting at the butt of the tree? People ask me all the time what I mean with that statement. I will try to clarify...

• If I start at the end or crown of many trees it constitutes the need to cut high, sometimes higher than you should without a pole saw. Never cut above your shoulders with the saw and if you have to lift the saw a little high, make sure to turn the bar almost sideways to eliminate being right in line with the reactive kick-back forces and the cutting chain. Don't just cut with the spinning chain pointed right inline with your head and body. When you lift the saw very high or up and down often fatigue rises quickly. Fatigue and saw work do not mix well, like drinking, fatigue and driving.
• When you cut the limbs of the crown from the end, you generally have to cut and then stop and pull them out and down and maybe even out of the way.
• The limb ends, or top pieces, are usually smaller diameter and vibrate as the chain pulls them about. This increases chances of chain derailing and limbs throwing the saw about, usually at a level even with the upper body.
• More cuts on small limbs have to be made to start at the top.

The Alternative
• Begin at the butt end. It may be that you can start right at the stump. It often is better in your plan to move up the trunk to the edge of the road or first major crotch to begin the process. Try not to pass any limbs unless you are using them as support or scotches.
• When removing limbs up the trunk it's easier to maintain saw control at a lower level. You can work up the trunk removing limbs and having room to move and leaving some debris until you're out of the immediate area before swamper’s move it. Leaving the debris momentarily can even be used as roll protection or support. Moving should be practiced with the chain brake engaged and make sure to have a plan in mind and stabile footing before making the next cut.
• The neat part of de-limbing up the trunk direction is that you can severe the limb close to the trunk and in many cases the swamper can pull the limb right out of the road or back to the chipper without having to cut so many times. Limb direction can easily be changed too without having to do so much manhandling to get it off the road. Many trees you can remove and drag less that a dozen limbs to clear the road instead of fifty cuts on small pieces, making fifty trips to the roadside or chipper.

Just step back and look at your next tree cleanup project and you will see what I mean...

Please think about this too - Only one person with a saw on the tree until the tree is stabilized. You do not want one person cutting the trunk and another cutting limbs until these two sections are disconnected and stabile.

You don't want anything to roll over on another sawyer or someone pulling brush. Make sure to give enough distance between the sawyer and the swamper or brush tender.

Don't hold limbs waiting on them to be cut. Let the cuts be made, then come in when the Sawyer requests your help. Working too close together or trying to hurry the process and saw contact is inevitable.

Always wear Your Personal Protective Equipment when you operate a chain saw. Head, eye, ear, gloves, leg protection and boots are the best insurance you can have against personal injury, along with a complete cutting plan.

For more on this topic and many other chain saw safety thoughts and techniques visit

Tim Ard is president of Forest Applications Training, Inc. Contact Tim with any questions or for further explanations at We specialize in training operators of outdoor power equipment at city, county and state levels nationwide.

© Copyright 2011 Forest Applications Training, Inc.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lean or Not

Lean or Not...

By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

One of the toughest information areas for me to learn regarding falling trees was to understand lean. I find today in my workshops this is true for most people.

I used to try to look up the trunk and move around the base of the tree trying to see where the tree wants to go. Lean is noticeable with trees using this technique, but what about those that are not so lean descriptive?

Soren Eriksson finally got it through my head, after a couple of the first years training together, that trees lean 360 degrees and if you expect the tree to do and go where you want it to, you must pick the place to put it and discern the lean to that spot.

Lean is actually determined in relationship to the position of the face notch and controlling hinge. Realizing there are two leans that you have to recon with in relation to the hinge position, you must put yourself in two positions to take lean information. You should take the side lean from or in line with your proposed lay/target location. The second, forward or back lean, is taken from a position perpendicular or simply 90 degrees to the target. This gives you the knowledge of where the crowns weight leans in relationship to the fulcrum or pivot point in the proposed fall, the hinge....

If the center weight line of the crown, standing in line with your target or lay, falls to the side of the center line of the tree base, it has side lean in that direction. If the center weight of the crown, standing in a position 90 degrees to the target, falls toward the target side of your hinge position, it leans forward. If the line falls behind the hinge position, the tree leans back.

Yes, the tree can be affected by things like wind, intertwined or pushing limbs, etc., but if not effected by those things, gravity will prevail and the tree will fall to your informed leaning position if the notch and hinge perform correctly.

The Technique

To determine leans effectively I have found it beneficial to point. When standing in the target/lay position, take your right index finger and point to the farthest limb stretching to the right side of the trees crown. Hold that position. Now, point with your left index finger to the farthest limb out the left side. Hold that position. Find a visual point between those two finger points in the middle of the tree crown. I simply bring my two fingers equally to the center of the two points and that's the top position of my plumb line. I then follow a plumb straight line to the base of the tree. Where that line falls in relation to the trunk and hinge is the measured lean. From the perpendicular position do the same for the forward or back lean reading.

This can become a very quick and accurate way of taking true leans with very little practice. People ask, what if this or that... Like if the trunk leans the opposite way of the limbs? Again, it is the most accurate way of calculating leans. You will be amazed at how balance heavy the limbs are. The trunk most often will be following the lead of the limb weight. Even if it doesn't, the limbs will usually rule the lean reading. If you can't determine a definite lean, treat it as back lean and you will never be surprisingly stuck in the tree...

Remember, lean is only a portion of the needed information before attempting to fell a tree. Review information on our website at and your chain saw operators instruction manual for other important things to consider before attempting a chainsaw task. Always wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when running a chainsaw and working in a forest, wooded area and or storm clean up. If you don’t feel comfortable or can formulate a complete plan- contact a professional. Saving time or money on one or even more trees is not worth serious injury or death.

Practice this lean information technique a few times. You will find, as I and many others have, that lean never lies. It's either lean or it's not...

Tim Ard is President of Forest Applications Training, Inc., a leading training company for all chain saw safety and applications. For more information about chain saw training browse or website or contact us at . Follow ForestApps on Twitter and Face Book as Forest Applications.

(C) Copyright 2011 Forest Applications Training, Inc.