Tree felling and a close call with the wood chipper.

We don’t know the exact history of the land our house is on; previous to our house being built on it in 2005, the land was field and woods, but it seems like very long ago it used to be an apple orchard.  As I walk through the woods, I find a lot of apple trees that are clearly very old, overgrown, and no longer bearing fruit.  There are also several of these old apple trees near the house, and they are all in bad shape, blighted and overgrown.

One of my husband’s goals for the next year was:

Continue to improve his tree-felling skills.  He has cut down several small to medium trees on our property and is learning how to fell them where he wants them and then cut them into logs for use as firewood or in the hugelkultur garden beds I’m working on for next summer.  Plan: cut down old, blighted apple trees.  Cut down larger dead (probably ash) trees.  Acquire chainsaw chaps for safety.  Inventory and sharpen our axes and hatchets and practice cutting down small trees manually with an axe.

Yesterday evening he decided to take down two of those old, overgrown apple trees.

First, he determined the felling direction and made sure the path was clear.  The first tree was within a foot or so of where he wanted it to fall, and the second tree fell perfectly in line with where he wanted it.

Second, he made two notch cuts to take out a wedge of wood on the side of the tree facing the direction he wanted it to fall:


Third, he made the back cut horizontally on the opposite side of the tree from the notch hinge he had created:


Because this wasn’t a huge tree, he was able to stand behind it and safely apply some pressure to push it toward the direction he wanted it to fall.  According to the lumberjack in the above link, with larger trees you can’t safely do this because they can “kick” back, and knock you down as they fall.


Years ago when we were helping my brother-in-law clear some trees on a newly purchased piece of land upon which he and his wife were building a house, I foolishly stood behind a tree that had just been cut and was about to fall.  As it fell, it landed in the fork of another tree, causing the trunk to kick up, and then the entire thing slid backward as if going down a slide.  It hit me square in the chest and knocked me flat.  That could have been a potentially deadly scenario because you can get pinned to the ground by the sliding trunk, though I lucked out and was not pinned.

After felling the tree, he quickly de-limbed it and worked on cutting the trunk into logs and hauling them to our wood pile.


My job was to gather up the limbs and cut them with large pruners to a size that I could run through the chipper:


I worked on this task diligently until a friend dropped by to pick up her kids, who had been staying with us.  I turned off the chipper, set my gloves and hearing protection on it, and went to chat with her for a bit.  After she left, I decided to go inside and finish dinner preparations.

Shortly thereafter, my husband came in and summoned me to come look at the wood chipper.  As soon as I stepped out on the porch, I smelled the acrid smell of something burning:


Where I had set my gloves and hearing protection on the chipper was obviously very, very hot, much hotter than I had realized, and the gloves were burnt up and the earmuffs melted:


But that was not the truly scary part.  My husband pointed this out to me:


That bit of rubber tube had its protective coating burned off and was close to being burned through. Do you know what that bit of rubber tube is for?  I’ll let you guess in the comment section.

So anyway, today I am glad that the good Lord above was watching out for us and prevented a serious and potentially deadly accident.  And I’ve learned a lesson about being careful about where I set things down!

8 thoughts on “Tree felling and a close call with the wood chipper.

  1. Gas line?

    Might be worth a note to the chipper and engine manufacturers, with pictures, because you can’t be the only person to have done that–and one could get other flammable materials in the same place that would do the same thing. Quality and safety engineers make a living preventing situations like this–and of course tort lawyers love situations like this.

    (well, not really love it, but it helps them make a living, too)


    • Bike Bubba,
      It may not be the gas line to the carburator. What I think that it is ia a vent from the gas tank to the carb so that the engine burns fuel vapor. Better than venting it to the atmosphere.

      Whenever you have to deal with something new, you have to consider safety, in all aspects.
      Abear tree felling method.

      I love seeing the little mischeif maker scamper off.


    • Yeah, I took a better picture of the fuel line when my husband removed it. It was beginning to crack. Had he not found it, it would have cracked and the entire thing would have gone up in a ball of flames within a few minutes. I’m going to email the company and let them know because this happened under very normal usage conditions on a cool day. Pretty darn dangerous.


      • But hey, if the line had broken, you could have saved all that time and effort burning the wood you just cut down, and possibly also the cost and expense of cremation!

        (just kidding)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Have you checked to see if those old apple trees are rare cultivators? Might be a rare lost apple species and you might be able to take cuttings and replant into new trees.



    • No, I haven’t. That would be interesting to know, but how do I find out what cultivars they are? They aren’t fruiting any longer, it seems.

      Sadly, whatever cultivar they are, it isn’t one that is resistant to cedar-apple rust; their leaves show the tell-tale orange spots. With all the cedar trees growing wild around this area, I’ll either have to spray the heck out of my apple trees or grow all resistant cultivars, like the Liberty trees I put in this year.


      • First guess would be the county AG agency. Possibly by the leaves etc? I know there have been articles in Countryside or Backwoods home covering how to graft to new rootstock and replant.



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