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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    93
    Location
    Lake Conroe area, Tx
    Tractor
    John Deere 3720

    Default Best way(s) to safely fell trees

    Wondered if some of the forum members could share experiences on what to do and what not to do when felling trees using a tractor, FEL, and or BH.

    How to determine uphill vs downhill (when terrain is essentially flat).

    Do you look at the mass and asymmetry of the branches. Do you back cut or fore cut it first?

    Do you cut down every one you think you can then try to push the trunk over and uproot the stump, or do you go at the whole enchalada at once?

    Is there a size limit you just wont go beyond?

    Dont want to be "strapped in" and looking up when I suddenly find out I am about to gain some valuable experience after I have done something wrong. Dont want to test my ROPS that way.

    Do you always cut roots first on what will be the high side, or only if the tree is of a certain size or type?

    How do you cut the roots or back fill the root ball void without a whole lot of sweat and a back ache if you dont have a BH to help manage the task?

    How do you handle a dead tree? Would hate to start pushing on one to find the upper portion separates and becomes a high speed post driver!

    Have a JD 3720 w/ filled R-4s, 300cx, BB and possibly a BH (2/3 decided) soon to be delivered (and plenty of trees to clear).

    Thanks in advance to all who share knowledge (however gained).

  2. #2
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    721
    Location
    Boerne, Texas
    Tractor
    Kubota M9000

    Default Re: Best way(s) to safely fell trees

    Your doing the right thing by asking I didn't and now have a 12" dent in the hood of my M9000. I did it on a dead tree which if I had read even a little bit before touching it I could have avoided. On dead trees when you push on them even gently the top portion that you can't reach typically comes down on your head. Luckily the tree I was working on was dead a long time and only the main part was still intact but it was enough. Be careful and yes to your precut on large livelier trees if you must push them over precut on the fall side to create a hinge that the tree SHOULD follow. The best reccomendation is get a chain or rope long enough to be out of harms way and pull it over a tractor pulls much better than it pushes anyway.
    Steve

  3. #3
    Super Star Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    16,854
    Location
    First organized permanent settlement in the northwest territory
    Tractor
    2003 Kubota BX1500/2004 Kubota Bx23/2005 Kubota BX1500

    Default Re: Best way(s) to safely fell trees

    </font><font color="blue" class="small">( I didn't and now have a 12" dent in the hood of my M9000. I did it on a dead tree which if I had read even a little bit before touching it I could have avoided.
    Steve )</font>

    Dead trees are DEADLY !

  4. #4
    Platinum Member Varmintmist's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    794
    Location
    Chicora, PA
    Tractor
    Mahindra3510

    Default Re: Best way(s) to safely fell trees

    You dont fell trees with a tractor. Fell trees with a saw and wedges.

    Smaller trees you can uproot with a tractor FEL or just plain pull over if you dig out the roots and have enough machine for your soil.

    In that case, cutting the roots helps on whatever side you arent pulling the tree or pushing it, at a minimum all the way around works to.

    You can use a tractor to put pressure on a tree to get it to fall where you want it to by chaining it off and putting tension on it then cutting with a saw, just bring enough chain or cable so you dont hit the tractor. This should be a last resort though. Or a "just in case" if there is a building nearby.

    IMHO, the best way is a good saw and wedges or a felling lever. I am not a pro but I heat with wood and do timber stand management on my ground. There are a lot of people who like yanking on cut trees with a tractor, I'm not one of them.

  5. #5
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    954
    Location
    Farwell, Michigan
    Tractor
    JD 2010

    Default Re: Best way(s) to safely fell trees

    If I am cutting near buildings or power lines I cut my wedge on the fall side, then I will put pressure on the tree with my FEL as high on the tree as I can in the direction that I want the tree to fall then make the hinge cut about 2 inches above the wedge on the opposite side of the tree. Dead trees get special treatment and care. I usually cut them using the wedge and hinge but do it as high up on the tree as I can reach safely then hook a chain to the tall stump and try to pull the base over with my tractor. I usually get them this way but sometimes have to get out the shovel and ax.
    There are several sites on the web that goes into great detail on how to fell trees safely but I have not found any that mention using farm tractors. Not much can beat a sharp chain saw and a large stump grinder. If you are a tree yanker make sure you have a good hard hat and a protective frame on your tractor, don't ask me how I know because I will lie.
    Farwell

  6. #6
    Veteran Member Dutch445's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Posts
    2,185
    Location
    Upstate NY
    Tractor
    JD X585

    Default Re: Best way(s) to safely fell trees

    You could try this question in this website:
    Arborist forum
    that's a very useful forum for info on logging/tree work.
    I'm sure they will recommend a professional. There are some very harrowing experiences posted there... makes you rethink what to tackle.
    [img]/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif[/img]

  7. #7
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    201
    Location
    Erie, PA
    Tractor
    Kubota B2650

    Default Re: Best way(s) to safely fell trees

    I've cleared 10 acres of relatively heavy forest over the past year.

    Don't use your tractor to knock over trees, unless you want to injure yourself and your tractor.

    Use a good-quality chainsaw (I have a 30" Stihl contractor-grade saw) and learn to keep your blades sharp.

    Cut a hinge in the tree to direct the fall. If you do it right, it works every time. I learned to do this from the Stihl manual, it contains very detailed instructions, along with lots of warnings. It takes some practice to be quick at it, but after 10 acres I think I'm quick and I can aim pretty good too.

    On some big trees near buildings or fences, where I need them to fall in a more exact location, I use my backhoe to put pressure on them, pushing in the direction I want them to fall after I've cut 1/2 of the hinge. I cut the other 1/2 of the hinge once I have the BH pressure on them. This works well; you can put more pressure with a BH than you can with a FEL. Respect all of the various forces you are putting into play (the tree, the tractor, the saw) and you'll be OK.

    I rented a large excavator with a thumb to pull out the stumps after the trees were felled, and move the logs after I trimmed all the branches. Now that the excavator is gone, it takes more time to dig out the stumps with my little 759 BH. I can move the logs with my FEL grapple, but not as fast as I could with the excavator. I can't lift nearly as much as the excavator could either.

    I have another 10 acres to clear and will probably start in earnest in November, after all the leaves are gone and the ground has hardened a bit from the colder temps. I made the mistake last time of starting in the spring. It wasn't a lot of fun doing all of this in the mud.

  8. #8
    Super Member Highbeam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    5,039
    Location
    South Puget Sound, WA
    Tractor
    Kioti CK30HST

    Default Re: Best way(s) to safely fell trees

    Falling dead wood be it branches or the trunk are known as widowmakers here in the NW. If the tree has any dead stuff on it, fall it with a saw and then deal with the stump later. If liveand reasonably small, like small enough to shake it by hand, then reach up high with the loader and give it a push. If it doesn't fall or you feel the front end of the tractor begin to lift then start digging roots. If it still doesn't push over, remember not to bang it, then use the saw and deal with the stump later. You will find some big trees easy to push over and some small ones that are as tough as nails.

    Either cut the stump super close to the ground or leave a good 2 foot stump. The point is to either make it very visible and large, or to make the stump passable while it rots away. I find the trackhoe/bakhoe guys would rather have a tall stump to give them more leverage when trying to pop it out.

    Once on the ground shove them together to where you can wrap a chain around the bundle and chain it off to your drawbar for dragging to the burn/firewood area. Depending on your plans, you could limb and top the tree where it falls like the old fashioned loggers did or drag the whole thing to the pile.

    I'll be doing this type of work over the long weekend and that is my plan.

    My dozer had an overhead steel cover that sure saved me from a lot of head bumps. With an open topped tractor and expensive new sheet metal, you would be wise to fall anything that doesn't easily tip over.

  9. #9
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    109
    Location
    Lincoln County, Missouri
    Tractor
    '51 Ford 8n

    Default Re: Best way(s) to safely fell trees

    I think the best way is to use or hire someone with a high-lift to knock them over then buck 'em while their on the ground.
    Just had an acre and half cleared of mature oak &amp; hickory.
    Worked out well.

    -dave

  10. #10
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Posts
    928
    Location
    Theresa, NY
    Tractor
    NH2120 RTV500 Bobcat S250

    Default Re: Best way(s) to safely fell trees

    You might want to look into a logging winch. I would recommend it over a backhoe when in the woods. I have both. The winch takes up a lot less space, isn't as top heavy as a bh, and is designed for dragging trees out of the woods. If you back into a tree with the winch, the tree gets the damage. You hook the cable as high as you can and get the tree to rocking and a lot of widowmakers hit the ground, with you safely out of the way. Plus you lose a lot of ground clearance with the bh. If stumps are an issue, get the trees cut, then rent a stump grinder for a day or two. Don't get me wrong, I love my bh, but not for logging. I started out green with logging a couple years ago, and learned enough off arborsite and the forestryforum to still be alive. You should check them out. Mytreelessons.com has a lot on info available also, much of it geared for the arborist, but if you have a woodlot to maintain, you kinda are one.

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