Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Working away from the shop

As mentioned in some other posts, I have a side work activity doing tree removals.  I live in an area where a large portion of land is forested, mostly Pine woods.   Most of the removals are around homes in the wooded areas, but sometimes also at a city location, very diverse places really, one of the reasons that I enjoy it.  Seeing some areas that I normally wouldn't get the opportunity to visit and often speaking with the residents there, working with some pleasant and highly skilled people, the challenges of the heavy work, all things that add up to a nice sometimes change from being by myself in my workshop.  Still working with wood, with a totally different goal, makes for a good contrast from the rather finely detailed aspects of furniture making, and at the end of a work day, the amount of accomplishment is often determined by a pile of logs stacked up, requiring a diversity of physical actions to achieve it, both on the ground and above.  A lot of consideration is sometimes involved in the process as well, different situations come up and there are risks that require being confronted.  It can make for some very interesting and exciting work.

Most of the tree work is aided by a crane, a great device that often allows a safer and more practical approach to removing trees. The vid here, I made with my helmet camera, and it exemplifies a typical day, part of a job cutting about eighty trees on a property to be sold, and where a recent snow had caused some damage to an adjoining house when a few trees toppled.   It gets especially interesting when the wind picks up about 25 minutes into the vid.  The wind is a truly powerful force, and something to be very well considered and respected when working with trees. 


Michael Toivonen said...

An entertaining adventure out in the pines on a windy day. The straight in cut was a revelation.....I would have thought you would get some nasty kick back. But I guess that the top of the bar tip doesn't have to be, with care, engaged. Got a chance to put your lesson into practice last week while cutting out a 36" claro walnut burl 6" below grade with a 20" saw. Had gotten in with a pressure pressure washer after someone else did the digging but still dulled but didn't destroy 5 chains. Luckily they and the saw weren't mine but belonged to the person who "had" to have the burl. I got half for my labor which included bandsawing it all back at the shop into blanks for turning. Beautiful wood.
The video in its entirety made me think that a filmaker could really do something interesting using an assemblage of youtube material. Your ups and downs on the crane evoked for me a Russian film, "Andrei Rublev". The first scene shows a man, in the 15th century, ascending in a hot air ballon made out of cowhides. The director Tarkovski made you feel as though the the camera must be mounted on the balloonist. Unfortunately the balloonist wasn't in a harness when the balloon plumetted....take care,

djy said...

Hi Michael,

Thanks for the poetic comment.

You are referring to what is generally known as the "plunge cut", in chainsaw use. It has a variety of applications, both in felling and when bucking, a pretty common procedure to give desired results, or sometimes more to prevent undesirable results, another way to put it given the safety factors with tree work. A relatively powerful saw with a sharp chain, along with a firm stance and good grip will best accompany the cutting method. Kickback isn't much of a concern if you enter the cut initially with the bottom of the bar, but you are right to mention it as a cautionary. Chainsaws are indeed potentially very dangerous tools to use.

I wouldn't mind a bit having a supply of Claro Walnut, myself. It used to be one of the species that I most used, when in California. I had an arrangement with a nut grower out in Linden, near Stockton. A similar arrangement as yours, I would do the milling and get half. The problem with the arrangement was that the trees there had a small thin metal plate embedded in them in various places, and why they were there was a mystery to us. It was unavoidable to frequently hit them, which caused the need for repeated sharpening of a long chain, rather frustrating, and to the point of wanting to give up sometimes. Still, I could get some nice wood out of the deal. It was hard to break in with the growers, most of the trees that were culled each year were destined to go to a gunstock making company, and they had things pretty sewn up in the area. More like blackmail really, if the gunstock company found out that a grower that they had an arrangement with was selling trees on the side, they would cut him out of the relationship, and a lot of the farmers were hesitant to get in a position to henceforth deal with the trees themselves. Calico, as the company was called, would do everything, remove the usable wood and grind the stumps and do the cleanup, paying a few pennies per pound for the valuable wood. When Claro became more popular and people started waving more money at the growers, some would find different arrangements to market the material.

High work above ground is a world in itself, with crane and without. There are definite challenges, but above the trees the air is clean and rich, and doing it on a sometimes basis, it seems a good way to purify and refresh the mind of the stresses of daily life. Not that I have a lot of stresses per say, but I do find it an excellent counterpoint to what is required for working in the shop, i.e. a different kind of concentration, and it does seem to have a very refreshing result. I have never been up in a hot air balloon, but I do see them in these parts in the winter. It seems a good area for it with the views of the snow covered mountains, "The Japanese Alps", as they are affectionately referred to.

Michael Toivonen said...

Hi Dennis,
Ah, yes, Calico. I managed, through a family connection and a bit of luck to get something they wanted but couldn't access due the size of their equipment. About three years ago I was sitting at lunch with my father and stepmother plus an old friend of my stepmother who lives in Santa Rosa. She happened to mention that she was going to be removing a large tree in her back yard.
Turned out it was a Claro with the graft 10' off the ground and the greatest width (40+")was at that graft. She had heard of Calico, which is located in Sonoma county and they looked at it but unless they could pull their portable mill up right next to the fallen tree they were not interested in buying it from her. The access to the back yard was too narrow as it turned out and I managed to get the whole tree. The limbs above the graft were large and I managed to turn her several bowls from the wood as a thank you. The only unfortunate thing was that the 10' log was reduced to 8' as she had had the bottom 2' turned into some discs for landscaping, a plan she ended up abandoning and giving me the discs.
It took me awhile to figure out how to handle the log of the tree. I finally found a guy with a chainsaw mill big enough. He warned me that if he hit metal I would be paying for the chain damage. On a misty morning he, with his daughter on the other end, slabbed it into 3" flitches. A couple of inches from the end of the final cut he sensed something , stopped, and got out an 18" bar saw to finish the cut. That was where the 20d nail was. Well, there were a couple of others but they were miraculously avoided by the narrowest of margins. He charged me $250 and I gave him $300. Another $100 to my stepson to help me get the wood into the pickup (we could get an '88 Toyota longbed in there) and I had 500 board feet of very pretty wood plus all the limbs of which some were good turning stock and the rest firwood. The flitches have been drying in the coolest, shadiest spot here for over two years now under some corrogated roofing. I figure a year per inch plus maybe another for the 3" factor. There is little sign of checking at the ends, which I waxed, and some very beautiful figure, especially at that graft made 10' off the ground around 1917 according to the growth rings.