Monday, April 28, 2014

Safety And Woods Worker Training

When you’re DIY logging as selectively as we are, precision and safety really pay off. Last week I completed Level III SAWW training in timber felling.

Trainer Ken Lallemont discusses a precision felling cut.
After taking last year’s Level II course in precision tree felling with Ken Lallemont, a certified Game of Logging trainer and Hardwood Value Improvement Program (HVIP) instructor, I knew there was more to learn. So I jumped at the opportunity to take Level III Safety And Woods Worker Training from him this year. This Level III SAWW class was limited to 6 fallers, so it was intense training.

Years ago I learned to properly fell trees from a very experienced friend who didn’t want to see me get hurt logging our property. Soon I was pretty good with a Humboldt. I read Beranek and encouraged more friends to show me additional techniques that proved very useful. I went on to cut thousands of trees without serious incident. I could get trees to fall where I wanted them to most of the time. Sometimes they went where they wanted to, which frequently was frustrating and time-consuming.

In last year’s Level II class I came to understand that felling trees was about much more than just using a chainsaw to separate a log from its stump. Anyone can do that. Precision felling involves creating a moving mechanism from wood by removing the material that isn't part of the mechanism. That mechanism provides safety to the faller and puts the log where he intends for it to go, every time. We trained on Alder, a tricky tree to cut.

Studying the mechanics of a technique
for wedging small-diameter back leaners.
This year’s Level III course went far beyond the general-purpose timber falling technique we learned in Level II. This time we learned and practiced several other cuts for special circumstances: heavy leaners, small diameter trees, hung trees and complicated lays -- sometimes all in the same tree. We learned some neat tricks for bucking logs on a side hill and flat on the ground.

A faller bores his test tree for scoring.
Our test was to fall a mature fir tree following a specific procedure and hitting a target. The target was a stake in the ground about 40 feet from the stump. There were 30 possible points for hitting the target, with one point deducted for each inch between the target and the log.

The remaining 100 points were for having a good plan, condition of the saw and chain, a perfectly matched open-face notch, and a hinge as long and thick as we had stated they would be. I got 130 points.

Student faller keeps score for the instructor.

Overall it was a fun three days in the woods with a very knowledgeable instructor and a great group of guys. The workshop was held at the Tierra Learning Center in Chumstick Canyon outside of Leavenworth WA. Tierra is the steward of a few hundred acres of timber and has just embarked on their forest management program. I hope to have the opportunity to help out there this summer -- for the practice, but more to help another forest owner achieve their goal.

Photo gallery from 2014
Photo gallery from 2013
Video explaining the open-face bore technique, produced by Husqvarna.

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