Fallen tree-- what do I do?

newhomeowner-2009October 21, 2009

So I posted earlier today about overseeding, but that was before I noticed another issue that needs attention: I just noticed that a tree fell on my property last night.

It's not in the way of anything, which is why I didn't notice until late this afternoon. The question is, what if anything do I do? It's about fifty feet long, and far too heavy to be budged. I'd like to do something about it, maybe cut it up as firewood. (I have a wood stove.) Thing is, I don't have a chain saw.

So I guess the question is, should I buy a chain saw and cut up the thing, and if so, should I do it now or wait until next spring? It's out there in the field and is going to get snowed on (I'm in the Catskill mountains).

As you can see by this question, I am a total newbie on such things!

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Steven Laurin & Company

Bought my first chainsaw after a similar experience - but most of the 70 ft tree was still standing. Had to do a bit of climbing to delimb the remaining top half first.

I first did lots of research on an arborist forum and purchased an arborist guidebook. Learned mostly by doing. I'm no professional tree monkey, but have many trees on my property - amazing how much I use that tool.

It's not rocket science - just need to carefully follow all safety requirements, wear goggles, gloves and dress appropriately.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2009 at 8:35PM
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davidandkasie(Z8 MS)

unless you know someone who KNOWS what they are doing and can teach you to use a saw safely, you should hire it out. i don't say that implying you can't do it, but as a warning that you can easily get hurt or killed.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2009 at 10:19PM
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I think you've got a point there.

Do you think it can wait until the spring? I figure that at least I can get some wood out of it, and I don't want it to rot.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2009 at 10:57PM
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I don't suggest you go buy a chain saw and try this without some training. Chain saws are rather unforgiving, As stated it is not rocket science, but one mistake can cost you a limb or your life.

As for using the tree for firewood, use caution here. What kind of tree? There are a lot of trees you do not ever want to use as fire wood. If you use something like pine, it can burn down your house.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2009 at 11:18PM
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Yes, I've definitely ruled out buying a chain saw. I read on the internet about how it can kick back and... forgetaboutit.

Why would pine burn down my house? I have a well-functioning wood stove. It isn't pine, but I'm not sure what it is.

Anyway, I'm not sure what kind of tree it is. I shall investigate... if necessary, I'll post a photo.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 10:56AM
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Steven Laurin & Company

There's no need for scaring off a "newbie" DIY homeowner for wanting to take on a project such as this. The tree is on the ground - so half the job is already done.

The risk of injury from cutting up the trunk + limbs of a fallen tree - using a home-owner grade chainsaw, runs parallel with the OP's degree of common sense. Whether using powertools for lawn maintenance, woodworking or lumberjacking - there's always a chance of gashing oneself, loosing a limb, or death . . . IF little attempt is made for education in proper use of the equipment, and the use of caution at all times is not adopted.

Buy a book, research/purchase a chainsaw and first practice on static logs which have been properly supported above the ground. Then, if the tree is of hardwood species, progress to cutting it up to cordwood - so it can be seasoned for use next year.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 11:06AM
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Well, I guess one question is whether I can just let it sit there till the spring, or whether the snows we get in the winter will rot the wood. Here is a photo of a leaf from the tree (which apparently was pretty much dead) and the bark. What kind of tree would this appear to be?

Here's the tree in all its majesty on the ground:

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 1:04PM
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Steven Laurin & Company

Looks like a Linden - had a few of those on my last property and is suitable for firewood. Based upon how it's laid flat on the ground - appears to be a worthwhile and fun DIY project. If you're in good physical condition and don't mind working up a sweat - go for it.

Here is a link that might be useful: American Linden

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 1:41PM
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Steven Laurin & Company

If it's of any consolation, Linden (Basswood) is a relatively soft wood, so it should cut up very easily - compared to oak, ash, or maple.

OTOH, it'll also burn rather quickly - w/o gumming up the flue though. Soft wood also rots quicker than hardwood - but your tree may survive the winter OK for spring harvesting.

I'll leave further recommendations ( or rebuttals ) to the pros who frequent this forum

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 1:53PM
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Thanks for the ID. Well I have plenty of firewood, so I could just let this wood age, assuming it doesn't rot over the winter. Any idea how much wood I could get out of this? If I pay a guy to cut it up, it may not be cost effective.

My wife is totally against my getting a chain saw, and by the way, I am an out of shape city fellow - definitely not in good shape.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 3:14PM
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Based on your pictues you appear to have at least some wooded areas. Get a decent quality saw and you'll always have it.

Get a stihl or husqvarna saw. You can get a 16 in or 18 in saw for around $250-$300 and it will last you many, many years. Plenty for what you're doing.

Don't waste money on a junk "economy saw". They're underpowered and don't work as well as quality saws. The anti-vibration and ergonomic features of the better saws are night and day.

Cutting that tree would take you less than 10 minutes to cut into 18 inch logs. An arborist to come and do that for you is probably going to charge you $100 or more to take it away. Your new saw will effectively cost you $150....

Now go buy your saw.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 3:29PM
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But all over the web (and not just the gent who posted earlier) I read that you've got to be shown how to use those things by someone who's familiar with the operation thereof.

Hey, I'm 55. I need all my limbs.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 5:35PM
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Steven Laurin & Company

newhomeowner-2009 said:

"My wife is totally against my getting a chain saw, and by the way, I am an out of shape city fellow" . . . "Hey, I'm 55."

Well I just turned 59 - cut up two fallen trees last weekend with my chainsaw, then chipped/shredded the limbs into mulch with my (real) TB Super Tomahawk - spread over most of the planting beds in the yard.

Came home from the office yesterday (yeah, a city fellow - but "somewhat" in shape), dethached my large lawn with the Deere thacherator, hand raked the debris and collected for my compost bins - before power-mulching the rest with the JD tractor.

This weekend, weather permitting, I'll use the (real) TB Pony tiller to turn over the already harvested veggie garden for next season - painting the house trim next weekend.

This past summer, I designed and built an addition to the house - in my spare time with no help what-so-ever.

Dude, you need to get off your city azz + get your finger-nails dirty. ;^)

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 7:22PM
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A decent bow saw costs about ten bucks and should do you fine for a tree that size. It's not so big you absolutely need a chainsaw. It will just take a bit of time but a new sharp blade cuts quickly if you don't mind a bit of work.

If you have a reciprocating saw, a 12" blade on it should do it as well.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 8:01PM
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Not a bad idea. I may just cut it in half to get it out of the way, as I found that I actually was able to move it a bit even in its present state.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 10:27AM
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Your arms will be DEAD tired using a bow saw by the time you finish the first cut. A reciprocating saw is definitely not suited for that type of cutting.

Seriously, get yourself a chainsaw (don't forget safety glasses) and cut that sucker up. It won't take you long at all, it's not hazardous (LOL @ comment about it being life threatening!) and it'll be a fun project.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 6:33PM
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Eh, I could use the exercise. I went out and bought a 21 inch one at Home Depot, but I wonder if maybe a 36 inch one I saw elsewhere would be better. Question is, do they have reciprocating saws that would do the job, and would they be safer than chain saws?

I cross-posted re chain saws in the home repair forum, and note the post from handymac here: http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/repair/msg101824091680.html?4

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 7:13PM
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"Your arms will be DEAD tired using a bow saw"

That's part of the benefit in my opinion.

"by the time you finish the first cut."

Wow, by the first cut? If that's true then you wouldn't have the strength to operate a chain saw. Heck, you'd probably have to use a golf cart to get to it so you don't tire yourself walking :)

When I used to go camping we would cut up 2-3 fallen trees this size for firewood with nothing but a saw and axe. If they were dead long enough we'd just snap them by hand.

It looks like this tree is less than 12" in diameter even at the base. Each cut shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes with a new sharp saw.

The pruning blades made for reciprocating saws work well for small trees and branches in my experience.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 7:16PM
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21" is big enough and easier to handle. Use something to prop the tree up where you're cutting so it's not directly on the ground. The branch on the side of the tree in the picture is enough. Try to have it steady so you can keep both hands on the saw. If you keep one hand on the trunk make sure you know where it is in relation to the blade.

You can keep a can of WD-40 nearby to spray the blade if it's getting stuck or binding. Make sure you don't put pressure on the trunk in a way that would make the cut close and bind the blade. Don't force it. Just put a little bit of downward pressure on the blade and let the saw do the work.

I don't know if a reciprocating saw is safer. Anything that's sharp and moves fast needs to be handled with care. I just threw that out in case you already had one. No need to buy one just for this.

The key, as I stated previously, is to make sure the trunk is supported underneath in a way that won't case the blade to bind or the trunk to shift or fall. That's true no matter what you use to cut it.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 8:07PM
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Steven Laurin & Company

Unbelievable! I'll bet organicbob mows an acre a week, using a manual rotary mower and prefers riding on the highway with his Schwinn single speed - with pedal brakes!

Good grief newbie - go back to HD, and get yourself a man's tool - an Echo chainsaw . . . it's safer than riding a bike on the highway!

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 8:30PM
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Actually, the only bike I owned that had seen significant highway mileage had quite a bit more horsepower than a chainsaw and made a lot more noise.

I wouldn't suggest anyone buy a chainsaw or other similar smallengine equipment from the big box stores. It's best to find a local small engine shop that sells quality equipment and has their own repair shop. Better service, sometimes better models and most people wouldn't be able to fix it themselves if something goes wrong.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 6:44PM
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