Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Story In A Board

Thanks for all the fun ideas about this broken up board.   Now that this blog is started, maybe you will be able to see the discussions for yourself next time. 

Many of you came close - seeing this was damage when the tree was felled.  Fiber Pull and cracks formed as the tree was felled.

Lumberjack Mike was just here and actually got to see and hold the board - so it is not fair I know.
He described is as it happened though he failed to identify the board as red oak.

Anyway, this was a large - 28" diameter red oak, killed by oak wilt.  It was leaning strongly downhill right toward several smaller alive trees.  An opening in the trees tops was available 20 degrees to the left.  I did my best to aim the tree over there and let it fly.  It went down in the right place with a huge crash and did little damage to the standing trees.  So I felt pretty good at the time.

When this dried board came out of the planer/molder I realized the butt log had been damaged as it fell.  I left more hinge wood than normal to pull the tree to the side, but is was enough to cause the damage to the butt log.   The splitting extended at least 16" and the gap in the grain is a fiber pull 12" long.  Being brittle red oak, the fiber pulled 2 " then cracked off.  So pieces fit exactly back together.  

The point is, with this system of forest to finished products - I get the feedback and learn from every mistake or action that I make.  I see the results of everything that I do - and that is very rewarding!!  Both in understanding and in my earnings!

Thanks for chipping in -


  1. Hey Birky,
    Thanks for including us on your blog efforts, welcome to the internet and world wide web of communication. Just remember the first cartoon about the net, it showed the information super highway as being a traffic jam of bumper to bumper garbage trucks....

    Now since you asked, I must comment on your felling technique. In the photo on your site it appears you are making your face cut or open face way to deep for my preference. There are a few reasons I feel this way. First the job of matching the 1 & 2 cuts is much harder when you put the hinge so deep into the tree. It also puts the hinge in the more briddle wood of the middle of the tree instead of on the tougher wood of the sapwood or edge. We only make our open face or lead notch about 3-4 inches deep. This makes the 1 & 2 cuts easier to match up and then if you have a leaning tree that is going to fall fast when released, any damage to fiber that occurs is on the edge and usually removed in the slab. It also is much easier to create the back of the hinge when it is set on the outside or the tree instead of the middle or so deep as you have in your photo of the maple you are felling. The door hinge created by boring like you are doing in your photos does help reduce cracking at the hinge or barber chairing from have to big of a hinge thickness wise on a leaning tree that will fall rapidly when releasing the latch on the back. Hope this makes some sense, we have debates all the time with some folks over the subtle differences in the four cut open face hinge and latch timber felling method we call the Swede cut since I learned it from Soren Erickson decades ago. It is not a debate for me, keep the face shallow and have more control and less fractured fiber. We teach this technique with an emphasis that the manufacturing starts when the saw chain touchs the tree and any defects caused by a timber feller are a manufacturing defects caused by them. This means lost money and of course can lead to dangerous results like barber chairing. Also if the hinge results in long fiber sticking up out of the stump the hinge was to big and those sharp fibers are always cut off the stump once the tree is felled because they present a clear danger to the timber cutter or anyone else that may stumble in the woods and fall on them.

    I think the most important feature of this method should be operator safety, second, protection of the residual and third appropriate lay out for extraction. The third feature really is important for us as you know, because we have the limited power source of a biological creature - horses.

    Hope this helps stimulate discussion of this work and that you keep making a go of it my friend.
    Best Regards,
    Jason Rutledge
    Biological Woodsman, President BOD
    Healing Harvest Forest Foundation

    Please excuse no proof reading, I am getting greif from the crew for being on here and not in the woods yet... more later I hope.

  2. Yeah, I've sawed a few logs like that. Better to ruin a few inches of one log than 3-4 trees, though!

  3. Awesome blog Jim, and very demonstrative lesson. Looking forward to keeping up with you here.