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.