So I have this big-ass oak tree in my yard. Yes, that’s its official scientific name, Bigassis Oakus or something. Its around 40 feet tall and leaning precariously. It’s leaning precariously away from the house, and away from the neighbor’s house. Just sort of leaning. The thing looks a little sick and I keep feeling like one day the tree is just going to say “fuck it”, and fall over. Probably at an inopportune time, like the night before we are supposed to leave at 7am on a five day vacation. So it’s either leave the tree laying there for several days pissing off the neighborhood, or be late and cut the bastard up.
Not that I care about pissing off the neighborhood, I really couldn’t care much less if they like me or my yard or anything. But a few years ago some of the mouth-breathing dimwits tried to start a homeowner’s association, and the last thing I need is to add fuel to their moron fire again, so I keep the weeds mowed and the pinecones picked up.
But there’s this tree. I used my saw-on-a-pole to remove what lower limbs I could, intending one day to hack the damn tree down with a chainsaw, but I really don’t like the way the thing is leaning, and wanted it to land on my property when it goes, and not block part of the neighbors driveway.
There was a big limb on one side I decided to get rid of, and maybe, just maybe, that would change the weight distribution so when I go hacking at it with my chainsaw, I can drop the beast where I want to. The only problem is, the limb was about six inches thick and 20 feet up in the damn tree. I am no fan of heights, and my saw-on-a-pole was not up to the task. So – I turned to my hiking knowledge.
A friend of mine has a manual chainsaw he carries hiking. It’s basically a chainsaw chain, with a handy strap at each end.
It works really easily in the woods. On the ground. With a helper. So I get a chainsaw chain (I had an new one, still in the box, for my old chainsaw), and cut it so I just have one long flexible saw blade, and tie a long rope on either end.
I really wish I had pictures at this point, but the whole episode was ridiculous and it was a little warm and the gnats were pissing me off. I tossed rope 1 over the limb, and hauled the chain up. Thankfully it got positioned right the first time, with the cutters down. I proceeded to saw back and forth with ropes 1 and 2, and the saw promptly got stuck.
Using this thing in hiking situations, I learned that you can’t put too much of a curve in the chain. In the picture above, that works for STARTING the cut, but once you get going, you have to widen the angle, or the chain binds up. So I go inside to get the wife and kid. I had them stand way out from the tree one way, and I stood out the other way. They never really could get the hang of it. One person has to pull, and the other has to keep a little tension on the rope for it to work. then the other person pulls back, and the first person keeps a little tension on the rope. I was getting all or nothing from my partner, so either the saw would barely cut, or they would yell at me for pulling their arms out of their sockets.
Finally the branch starts to crack, and breaks halfway off, hanging down like “okay, what do you want me to do now?” The kid throws the rope, which tangles it and flops the chain over, so the cutters are facing up. Now it gets stuck in what’s left of the tree branch. I finally have to weight the end of the rope and toss it over the branch, and pull everything down the other side, but at least I get my chain and rope back. I was sort of worried there for a bit.
So now I have this dangerous hanging limb over my head that weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 pounds. Its actually one limb with a fork in the middle, so it spreads out nicely. First I try swinging back and forth on it, and that helps, then I grab the limb and force it back past the trunk, and finally it lets go and crashes to the ground, scaring me in the process. Of course, now it’s too heavy for me to drag across the ground, so I have to get out the chainsaw and chop on it some.
Lumberjack stuff is hard work. I see why those guys are big and burly.