One of my favorite skills on the homestead has got to be running a chainsaw. When we first started I was extremely green. I bought a poulan, and I didn't know anything about it. Luckily for me I was introduced to Stihl and I have been cutting firewood now for years.
Today I want to talk just a bit about cutting firewood from a pile of logs. If you have been cutting firewood for any length of time then I'm sure you have had an opportunity to cut from a pile.
When it comes to running a chainsaw in general there is alot to remember, but the number one thing is always safety. I make sure to always have eye and ear protection, and I wear my chaps to keep my legs safe. I don't have a helmet and face shield...yet.
Piles can be blessing and a curse. It is awesome that the logs are piled up and you don't have to walk all over creation to haul the fire wood. It lets you be alot closer to your vehicle, and any of your tools. The down side is that you never really know what to expect from the pile.
There are a few different types of piles. There are Logging piles where the logs are neatly stacked and clean. There are drag piles where the logs have been drug over and stacked up with all of there branches. Then there what I call dozer piles, where a bull dozer pushes the trees up into a pile.
When cutting a clean pile of logs it is pretty straight forward. Start toward the top of the pile and the closest to you. Start cutting in a stair step pattern. That way the log that you are cutting won't have a log directly above it. So you can safely work down one step at a time. Make sure to watch for the falling bucks as you cut them off.
When you are working with a drag or dozer pile you have to be extra mindful of debris. There will be small bits of things like back, grass, and whatever else the trees pick up. It is important to clear that out as much as you need to continue working. If you focus on trying to clean that all out perfectly...well, that will be your whole day haha.
The single most important aspect of cutting in a dirty pile is the potential for a spring loaded log. When the piles get pushed together by the bull dozer or tractor it has the potential to bind up a long. You may not be able to tell right away, but if you cut into the log and release that energy it could be very bad. I have even heard stories of guys getting knocked off the top of a pile by a spring loaded limb.
Whenever you are cutting firewood in a pile there is also the risk of damaging your chain. When you get close to the ground and there is alot of debris, there may also be rocks. You'll know right when you hit them. You may see alittle spark, but then your next cut nothing will happen.
So while we all love the idea of being able to walk up to beautiful pile of future firewood, we have to remember that it isn't always what it looks like. Stay diligent, Work hard. Stay safe.
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