Monday, February 1, 2016

Three Day Experiences...

Forest Applications Training, Inc.
Three Day Workshop

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

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

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

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

Experience - a great teacher!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Conclusion…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, January 22, 2016

Stump-Shot or Not....

Stump-Shot or Not...

By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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