A Little Excitement in the Wood Lot

By , July 8, 2015

I’m late harvesting firewood for the coming winter. With another stretch of dry weather, I’m making a push to cut more rounds to get them drying. The project moves ahead, but it isn’t easy.

A couple of days ago I needed a new blade for the saw. Instead of taking the time to replace the worn out blade on my bow saw, I went to the shed and grabbed a brand new bow saw we’d bought several years ago and set aside for the future. I then headed up to the far end of the property to continue bucking two recently felled standing dead trees.

Brand new saw, bent all to heck (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Brand new saw, bent all to heck (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

One of the trees lies suspended above the ground, held between several live trees around it. I bucked all the rounds I could reach, then decided I needed the tree lower to the ground to continue. I went to the top of the 90 foot tree to where the crown wedged against a small tree. I made an undercut, then sawed through the log from the top.

I’d been wary of the pressures on the tree from the others that held it, but the energy released when I completed the cut took me by surprise.

As near as I can tell, the following happened:

The tree buckled sideways and swung violently at me at eye level, traveling about 5 feet in my direction very quickly. At the same time, it dropped to the forest floor, a distance of roughly 6 feet at the point I stood.

The tree, bent but hinged at the cut, rammed my hand and pinned it against a stump behind me. Luckily, that stump was flexible and unsteady, so it gave with the impact. Otherwise, the tree would likely have broken my hand. It ripped the saw from my grip and smashed it against the ground, folding the tubing of the saw frame.

That ended my sawing for that day’s job. I retrieved the saw (the blade luckily popped free and did not get damaged) split the rounds I’d already cut, loaded some wood on my pack, and headed home to find another saw.

Not too long ago, I received the perennially offered advice that I should get a chain saw. Had I been using a power saw on that tree, I somehow doubt I’d be here to write this essay. The action’s plenty hot and heavy with a hand saw, thank you very much!

Cutting wood alone in the woods is a high risk job. I try to stay alert and make as few mistakes as possible. Every day I smash toes and fingers and strain muscles, occasionally I fall or cut myself with the saw. I count a lot on luck, which seemed to almost run out the other day!

2 Responses to “A Little Excitement in the Wood Lot”

  1. Jessie says:

    Yikes! Glad to hear that you’re okay. Sorry about the saw!

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Thanks Jessie. I was disappointed to lose it after one use, but it’s still a pretty low cost for heat in the winter, I guess. I’m still searching the forest floor for the tightening mechanism that fell off of it. If I can find that, I can rejuvenate an older bow and mitigate the cost somewhat.

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