TECH­NIQUES: US­ING A CHAIN­SAW

CHAIN­SAWS ARE AN EF­FI­CIENT WAY TO CLEAR A TRACK, BUT THERE’S METHOD TO THE MAD­NESS

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents -

YOU’RE mind­ing your own busi­ness driv­ing down a back track when the weather sud­denly turns and it starts to blow a gale, which means it’s time to find a safe place to rest. How­ever, around the next bend you’re con­fronted with a tree ly­ing across the road.

In the back of the ve­hi­cle is a chain­saw and per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment (PPE). Chain­saws of­ten only get used for cut­ting bits of tim­ber in the back­yard, but what do you do when pre­sented with an en­tire tree on a re­mote road?

Def­i­nitely don’t drive around it, be­cause ev­ery­one else will fol­low suit and be­fore you know it the whole place will be cut up and dam­aged. After all, it only takes one smart arse to ruin it for the rest of us, and then the track will get closed.

So, how does one clear a track?

Junkin’ the trunk: think safety, tech­nique and what lo­cal laws per­mit when fir­ing up your chain­saw

STEP 1: AS­SESS­MENT

BE­FORE start­ing the chain­saw, stand back and as­sess the sit­u­a­tion – al­ways imag­ine the worst-case sce­nario and be pre­pared for it. Take a few min­utes to clear a path be­hind and to the side for a quick with­drawal.

Think about how to cut each branch and what will hap­pen when you do. Ob­vi­ously, up­ward-fac­ing branches will fall, so make sure the fall path is clear.

It’s not so clear what will hap­pen when we cut branches trapped un­der a fallen tree. In some cases re­mov­ing them will sim­ply cause the tree to drop; in other cases they will act as a re­lease spring.

Fi­nally, al­ways work with a part­ner. If you be­come trapped or in­jured you’ll have some­one to call for help.

STEP 2: CLEAR THE BRANCHES

START by re­mov­ing the branches clos­est to the lower end of the trunk, and then work to­wards the top of the tree.

When­ever pos­si­ble, stand on the up­hill side of the tree be­cause things roll down­hill with grav­ity.

Work from the left side of the trunk (as you face to­ward the top of the tree). This al­lows the safest and most ef­fi­cient use of the chain­saw, be­cause you can rest the side or bot­tom of the saw on the trunk and slice off the branches with a piv­ot­ing mo­tion.

Cut off branches that are un­der pres­sure by first cut­ting down­ward through one-third of the branch. Fin­ish the cut by sawing up­ward to meet the first cut, and al­ways be pre­pared for the main trunk to roll or drop.

STEP 3: THE TRUNK

CUT trunks that are sup­ported at both ends by mak­ing a down­ward cut one-third the di­am­e­ter of the trunk.

Cut up­ward to com­plete the cut. Fin­ish by cut­ting up from un­der­neath, and be pre­pared for one or both sides to drop.

If the trunk is hung up or sus­pended at both ends, you need to level it – in other words, cut the trunk loose from its stump.

If you at­tempt to cut straight down through a trunk that’s sup­ported at both ends, the weight of the trunk will pinch the bar and trap your chain­saw.

Stop the en­gine if the bar does get stuck, then use a thick branch to lever the trunk and open the cut far enough so you can re­move the chain­saw.

STEP 4: FIN­ISH THE JOB

TECH­NI­CALLY the of­f­cut branches re­main the prop­erty of the per­son who owns the land, so do the owner a favour for let­ting you on their prop­erty. After clear­ing the route, cut the wood into 30-40cm lengths and leave it in a neat pile by the track.

First, cut three-quar­ters of the way though, then roll your log over and com­plete the cuts. This stops the chain hit­ting the ground.

On gov­ern­ment land laws pre­vent the re­moval of fallen tim­ber be­cause that might im­pact on na­tive species. An­other rea­son: some ju­ris­dic­tions auction such tim­ber; in oth­ers, some­one might hold a lease for col­lec­tion. So re­mov­ing it would be steal­ing. In some ar­eas you can have your 4x4 and chain­saw con­fis­cated on the spot.

As al­ways, it’s best to check your state’s reg­u­la­tions.

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