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How to Fell a Tree

Category: Ii Woodcraft

Content yourself with chopping down only slender trees, mere saplings,
at first, and as you acquire skill, slightly heavier trees can be
felled. Begin in the right way with your very first efforts and follow
the woodsman's method.

Having selected the tree you desire to cut down, determine in which
direction you want it to fall and mark that side, but first make sure
that when falling, the tree will not lodge in another one near by or
drop on one of the camp shelters. See that the way is free of hindrance
before cutting the tree, also _clear the way_ for the swing of your
extended _hatchet_. If there are obstacles, such as vines, bushes, limbs
of other trees, or rocks, which your hatchet might strike as you raise
and lower it while at work, clear them all away, making a generous open
space on all sides, overhead, on the right and left side, and below the
swing of the hatchet. Take no chance of having an accident, as would
occur should the hatchet become entangled or broken.

You may have noticed that the top surface of most stumps has a
splintered ridge across its centre, and on one side of the ridge the
wood is lower than on the other; this is because of the manner in which
a woodsman fells a tree. If he wants the tree to fall toward the west he
marks the west side of the trunk; then he marks the top and bottom of
the space he intends chopping out for the first kerf or notch (Fig. 13,
_A_ and _B_), making the length of space a trifle longer than one-half
of the tree diameter. The kerf is chopped out by cutting first from the
top _A_, then from the bottom _B_ (Fig. 14). When the first kerf is
finished and cut half-way through the tree, space for the kerf on the
opposite side of the tree is marked a few inches higher than the first
one (Fig. 15, _C_ and _D_) and then it also is cut (Fig. 16).

After you have chopped the two kerfs in a tree, you will know when it is
about to fall by the creaking and the slight movement of its top. Step
to _one side_ of the falling tree, never behind or in front of it;
either of the last two ways would probably mean death: if in front, the
tree would fall on you, and if at the back, you would probably be
terribly injured if not killed, as trees often kick backward with
tremendous force as they go down; so be on your guard, keep cool, and
deliberately step to the side of the tree and watch it fall.

Choose a quiet day, when there is no wind, for tree-felling. You cannot
control the wind, and it may control your tree.

Never allow your hatchet to lie on the ground, a menace to every one at
camp, but have a particular log or stump and always strike the blade in
this wood. Leave your hatchet there, where it will not be injured, can
do no harm, and you will always know where to find it (Fig. 17).

Next: Etiquette of the Wild

Previous: How to Chop Logs

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