Monday, November 19, 2018

Keep an Eye on the Notch

Keep an Eye on the Notch….
by Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

In baseball they say to keep your eye on the ball. In shooting sports and hunting you keep an eye on the target. These are focus areas of importance to succeed in the endeavor. Well, in chainsawing, whether felling a tree or working up storm damage, the trick is keeping your eye focused on the Notch…

A couple definitions….
The Notch is a face cut on a tree trunk to directionally fell it or a relief cut made in a log or limb to control weight or movement when removing debris. It could be simply a bar width cut or kerf made as a relief cut or it could be a 140 degree pie opening. We usually try to open the Notch 45 to 70 degrees. The Notch allows the hinge wood to flex and control without breaking, pulling or splitting fiber. 

The hinge wood is a predetermined strip of fiber [not just cutting till something moves] left behind the Notch attaching the two sections of wood together, i.e., the tree to the stump or the limb to the trunk during movement. 

Now that some definitions are established, let’s discuss the issues of keeping an eye on the right place. In real-estate they say location, location. In sawing it’s position, position, position! If you don’t put yourself in the right position when approaching the tree or work it’s impossible to see what you want to cut, or maybe it’s really you cant see what you want to leave. 

Any time you are planning to control the tree, stem or limb, you must have a clear plan before you begin a cut. You should have a plan configured of Hazards/Obstacles, Leans, Escape, Hinge and your determined back cut and tools to use. The similar is true with cutting storm damage or debris, focusing on weight, pressure and binds by identifying Hazards, Side, Up or Down, Back or Forward  and select a technique to control it. 

To accomplish the task to plan-the hinge is your friend. So, whether simply cutting from the back or bore cutting to establish the hinge, your focus, your eye, must be aligned with the Notch to make sure you parallel it to maintain your planned hinge. Move your position to make sure you can Keep an Eye on the Notch!

Tim Ard is President and Instructor of Forest Applications Training, Inc. Visit our website at or email for more information.