A Few Hard-Learned Lessons- Part 1, by Grey Woman

I assure you that all of the following lessons are ones I have learned the hard way. I am sure that for those of you who grew up with a self-sufficient lifestyle or have been doing this for a while or even just possess a tiny bit more common sense than I do, this will be a good laugh. These are embarrassing but all 100% true.

Feel free to chuckle, guffaw, head slap, ridicule, or otherwise enjoy my complete and utter loss of pride. I can take it, and I certainly deserve it. Sometimes even I wonder how I have lived this long.

For the rest of you, particularly women, who may be just starting out prepping in the country on your own and trying to shed your urban or suburban shell, read on. My story and lessons that follow, provided in no particular order, might save you money, time, injury, and humiliation as you make this journey towards self-sufficiency and preparedness.

Chainsaws – A Lesson-Rich Piece of Equipment!

A few years ago, before I even really started prepping seriously, my father suffered a decline in health; when I was helping him move some heavier things out of his garage, he offered me his old chainsaw. For free, I received a quality 24” chainsaw, and, knowing my dad, one that was meticulously maintained.

I knew just what I was going to use it for right away. I had a mid-sized tree that was close to my house and not in good shape. I had been somewhat concerned that it would fall on the house in heavy winds, and I knew it needed to come down. Now I could take care of it all by myself and without hiring someone or going out and buying a chainsaw!

Lesson #1 : A 24” Chainsaw is Really Heavy

It’s so heavy that, frankly, I am lucky I did not lose a leg trying to wield it. There is nothing wrong with stepping down to a 14” or 16” chainsaw if you are not a large, strong person (or even if you are). It is also very worth spending the money to buy a tool you can physically handle. It does not make you a wimp to admit it. You may have to be a bit more creative with a smaller chain saw, but you will be infinitely more productive and have a much better chance of keeping your extremities.

Lesson #2: YouTube is Not Sufficient Training on Chainsaw Use

Watching videos on YouTube is not sufficient training to use a chainsaw, especially not to take down a whole tree. This is especially the case when trying to take down a whole tree that is near your house. I cannot easily express how insufficient YouTube training is in trying to use a chainsaw to take down a whole tree that is near your house and leaning towards it. Humble yourself and admit it when you do not know how to do something. YouTube is great, but it is not a substitute for a patient, knowledgeable friend and a lot of supervised practice.

Lesson #3: A Tree Leaning Hard is Likely to Fall in that Direction No Matter How You Cut

If a tree is leaning fairly hard in one direction, that is likely the direction it will fall. Though this is not specifically chainsaw related, it’s definitely tree related. Tying a nylon rope around a tree and anchoring it to a minivan will not prevent said tree from falling on you or your house no matter how you try to angle your cuts and wedges (with your incredibly heavy chainsaw waving around like something out of a bad horror movie). Nylon rope really stretches a lot, and trees are very heavy! You are better off taking it down gradually than trying to trick it into bending to your will. Regarding the rope and mini-van thing, just don’t.

Lesson #4: There Are Costs Greater Than a New, Small Chainsaw and Some Humility, Help, and Patience

Major roof repairs cost more than a new, small chainsaw and some humility, help, and patience. Also, a bruised shoulder, abrasions, and contusions and a minor concussion hurt and take a while to heal.

Firewood and Woodstoves– Not As Easy As They Look!

When I first moved to “the country”, I was thrilled that the house I bought already had a woodstove installed. I had dreams of wallowing in warm and cozy self-sufficiency in front of a crackling fire. A friend who has a fair amount of experience in rural living came over in the first few days after I moved in (it was still too warm out to worry about heat yet) and opined that the extremely small Jotul stove was not in great shape and even if it was refurbished would not be sufficient to heat the house especially since the house’s windows were old and there was no real insulation. “Bahhh, it’ll be fine”, I thought. I just laid out a lot of money moving et cetera and didn’t want to go out and spend more on a new woodstove. I figured that I could make it work since the house is so small and I have a lot of sweaters. I just needed wood and determination!

Lesson #1: Cutting up and Dragging Deadfall Is Hard

Cutting up and dragging deadfall out of dense woods by yourself is very hard. (See chainsaw and heavy tree lessons above, as they apply here too.) Also, note that pine is not a good wood to burn in a woodstove. Seriously, if you see a tree with an old dead vine all over it and you live in poison ivy country, run away. Do not touch it, and do not burn it. Trust me on this. Bad things will happen.

Lesson #2: Log Cuts Need to Be Perpendicular to the Trunk

Before you start cutting up a log willy nilly, remember that if you ever want to be able to split the rounds into actual usable firewood, the cuts need to be perpendicular to the trunk and not on an angle, even if it is more convenient. If you forget this, you may end up trying to prop up big uneven chunks of wood on your chopping block using bits and pieces of branches (kind of like trying to level a restaurant table by putting sugar packets under one leg) to create a “choppable” surface. This does not work well, and you may almost chop off your own foot with a giant axe when the wood tips over and rolls off when you are in mid-swing. Just remember to make perpendicular cuts in the first place. It’s better that way.

Lesson #3: Buy a Sledgehammer, Splitting Wedge, and Axe to Fit Your Size

When you borrow or buy a sledgehammer, splitting wedges, and an axe, be aware that what works for a 6’4” 230 lb. large size man may not be quite as effective for a 5’4” 130 lb. woman. I think you can figure that one out. Big and heavy is good for big and heavy people. Smaller and lighter is good for smaller and lighter.

Lesson #4: Never Search Craigslist For Cheapest Firewood

When you have made all of the above mistakes and are cold and frustrated and decide to buy a load of firewood to get you started while you sort out the rest, never search craigslist for the cheapest wood that you can get delivered quickly. You may well end up with a small pile of what could kindly be considered “splintering swamp wood” in the middle of your driveway and decide to pay the very scary wood man for it anyway to make him go away after your objections are met with foul language, a menacing posture, and yelling. Humble yourself and ask local friends or neighbors for their advice, and realize also that you usually “get what you pay for”. This may lead directly to a nice, polite, wood man dropping off more expensive but still reasonably priced, full cords of seasoned and split hardwood on time and right behind the shed where you wanted it and offering to stack it and to provide referrals to other trades should you need them. He might even call you “Ma’am”.

Lesson #5: Don’t Shiver in Cold Before You Get Over Yourself and Ask For Help

When you figure out that, after all of that, your little Jotul is too small for standard length logs, and that even when you find pieces that fit and manage to get them to catch on fire, it really is not enough to heat your house, don’t shiver through a couple of weeks. Don’t refuse to admit that you were wrong about the stove, before you get over yourself and ask for help.

Incidentally, contrary to what you may think, having been a Girl Scout 40+ years ago does not automatically imbue you with awesome fire-building skills. This requires practice, practice, practice. (This is one place where YouTube can actually be of assistance.) It also does not hurt to keep some fatwood and a butane culinary torch on hand as you learn, for when you are cold and fed up and just want to light the stupid fire now already!

Lesson #6: Kindling is Necessary

You cannot just light split logs on a fire; you have to start with much smaller “kindling” pieces than you would think. If the idea of chopping off your thumb (or at least putting a big slice in the thumb of your work gloves) with a hatchet while trying to balance the wood with one hand and hit it with the hatchet with the other gives you pause, I heartily recommend a nifty device called a “Kindling Cracker”. This ingenious device is available on Amazon. It’s one of those things that is very simple and does exactly what it is supposed to do– make it easy to split wood into kindling size without getting hurt or frustrated. It is like a beautiful piece of cast iron magic. I have no connection to this company aside from being their number one fan after having received this (in the XL size) as a Christmas gift along with a 4 lb. mini sledge. It’s not inexpensive, but it’s cheaper than a finger reattachment!

Lesson #7: When You Need a New Wood Stove, Ask for Friend’s Help

When you finally admit to yourself that you do need to buy a new wood stove, after you do your online research and visit a bunch of stores and listen to quite a few sales pitches which all seem to directly contradict whatever you heard from the last salesperson and are having trouble with the huge price tags for what seem to you to be basically big metal boxes, stop. Find the friend who told you that yours was too small in the first place. Tell him he was right and you were wrong. Apologize for being a tiny bit pig-headed and humbly request his help to find and install a good quality used wood stove, which, it turns out, is actually essentially a big metal box that lasts virtually forever. Bribe or reward him with lots of homemade cookies.

I’ll now share a couple of useful facts about wood stoves. Some of this seems to go right along with my experiences above.

Wood Stove Fact #1: They are very heavy.

There are so heavy that you will not be able to move one by yourself, no matter how strong you may think you are. It’s not going to happen, ever. Also, they probably will not fit in your compact car. If you do not have a truck, borrow one with ramps and a sturdy furniture dolly.

Good, Quality Older Wood Stove Can Be Found At Reasonable Prices

You can find used good quality older wood stoves at a reasonable price with a bit of work. (I found a 25-year-old Vermont Castings stove for under $500.) However, be aware that they will likely need some parts replaced to be fully functional.

You actually can replace almost any part of an old wood stove yourself as long as you do not have to move the stove even an inch to do so. Stove specific parts are available online even for very old stoves. Some of the most common parts you may need to replace are:

  • Gaskets. (These look like rope and require a special adhesive. Regular glue will not work.)
  • Glass (You must use glass that is made especially for wood stoves. This is very important.)
  • The grate on the bottom. This can warp upwards and crack if there has been a lot of over firing (burning the stove too hot). Do not try to fix it; just get a new one, please.
  • The andiron things that hold the wood away from the doors. Before replacing these, check the bolt parts on the bottom back of them to see if they just need to be tightened.
  • Handles (usually not the metal parts, as those tend to be okay, just the wood or ceramic parts which are necessary and not just decorative, as the metal parts get very hot, even when using a potholder or dish towel).

Tomorrow, we will continue with with lessons, primarily dealing with animals including bear.

See Also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

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  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
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  7. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
  8. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
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Third Prize:

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  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 75 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.




37 Comments

  1. For the past 40+ years I have heated with wood and wood pellets…twice I have hauled a chainsaw accident fellow to a hospital, using improvised tourniquets. If you are working in the woods (or you are working construction), have a tourniquet handy…a RAT tourniquet or an Israeli Army device is essential…if you have one you will be less likely to need it !! Wearing Kevlar chaps may be uncomfortable in hot weather, but they do make one more “safety-aware”… Swedge in IA

  2. This was my first smile of the day. You know, that wry little smile of shared experience and blow to pride with an injection of humility. You are not alone in these lessons. I will also add that with your research before you buy tools, don’t be afraid to buy quality tools instead of cheap ones. I made the mistake of buying cheap “starter” tools like chainsaws and ended up just wasting money and having to buy quality later after much frustration and delay in getting things done.

    Great post, looking forward to Part 2.

  3. LOL! Great article, thanks for sharing. True advice, and so humble of you to share.
    Not to chastise, however, I feel it must be said – chainsaws are seriously dangerous tools, and should absolutely NOT be attempted by novices watching YouTube. They can and will take your leg off in seconds. For anyone reading this thinking otherwise, please please PLEASE get an experienced person to help the first few times you try to fire one up. Likewise tree removal when near an important structure isn’t for the novice. There’s good reason tree services charge for what they do. I used to work with a tree company, and was amazed at what I learned.

  4. Spilled my coffee in the second paragraph laughing. If it is not heavy on the first cut it will be soon enough. 24″ has a different center of gravity than a 16″. Got the mark of 15 stitches to show for that lesson. While heavy, the longer bar has better reach which can benefit the back. Picked up a double gang pulley used on a shrimp boat. Bought at snatch block from Northern tool, a long enough hardened bolt and nylon lock nut and wide,elongated shackle. Pulled the bolt from the center of the snatch block added the shackle and some washers for bushings on the replacement longer bolt capped with the nylon lock nut. Substantial rope goes from shackle to gang, back to the pulley on the snatch block, back to the gang and thence to the hitch on your pick up. The gang is attached with chain to a hard point in the direction you want the tree to fall. The snatch block is on the tree you are taking down. You can offer quite a lot of persuasion and the tree is not aimed at your pick up.

  5. I am a 76 year old woman soon to get my first chainsaw lesson from my very experienced niece on her smaller chainsaw. The first thing she insisted on was that I get a helmet and chaps. I grew up in a country, self sufficient family and know how to split wood but have lived in the People’s Republic of Cambridge for over 50 years. Now about to move back to my roots and have never used a chainsaw. My dad and grandfather used a two man saw and buck saws.

  6. Great article, and thank you for the lessons learned. Sadly, I have already learned of nylon rope, attaching them to bumpers, and cutting trees down. A cypress pine tilted over after a hurricane came through. Of course it was between a fence, a 100 # propane tank, and a back porch….why not, right? I tried the wedge part, not luck. I finally wound up trimming branches from the bottom up. I also found out not to use a 32′ telescoping ladder to try and trim a 50′ tree…..doesn’t work either. I had images of my family finding me impaled on the fence. after notching farther up the tree, I tried the nylon rope, a bumper, and thankfully, no damage to the bumper. Pulleys didn’t work either. It finally took 3 adults, lots more cutting, notching, and pulling for about 10 minutes. Thankfully, it missed all 3 objects. I had to settle for a stump about 3′ out of the ground. That is part of the summer project I have ahead of me. Keep the stories coming, we all learn that way.

    1. Anther Anon, 3 ft. stump in the yard? Easy. Just level that sucker off on top & put a big ol’ flower pot of herbs on it. Then pretend that was your goal all along; your friends will admire your slightly off-beat decorating style. I just say I’m an eccentric artistic type. Good article.

  7. A great firestarter that I have used. Take ashes from your stove or fireplace and mix them with just enough kerosene in order for it to clump together. I then shove this mixture into the cardboard tube from a toilet paper roll (cut in thirds). These can be stored in a coffee can that can be closed and will last at least six months. I have used these to start wood that is wet with great results.

  8. Keep the heavy chainsaw for cutting logs, get a lighter one for felling trees. Use the chainsaw’s weight to your advantage when cutting. Let it do the cutting, don’t push or bear down on it.

    You left out an important lesson. Chainsaws hate left handed people. If left handed, learn to use it righty.

  9. Definitely should win this contest for biblical levels of humility. Would like to echo need to carry IBD & Tourniquet & train on their use. Purchase an extra of each (or reach out to nearest VFD) to use as training aids as they don’t repack well. IBD for flowing blood, T for pumping blood. 2 hours on the upper extremity before ischemic damage, a little more LE. Groin injuries (femoral artery) common in chainsaw injuries, too high on leg for T (google abdominal tourniquet for military solution), may require continuous manual compression during transport. Use [Kevlar] chaps to avoid such injuries. Serious eye & ear protection please. I have 25 years Level 2 trauma center OR experience.

  10. In the midst of family laughter, I bought myself chaps and have the use of a hard hat when needed. Still need my own pair of steel toed boots. The chaps are there for when I tire, although I do try to not work beyond my capability. I grew up heating only with wood we provided from our land and never had an accident. I choose to continue that record. I like to tell my family, “not on my watch.”

    Thank you for sharing such important information in a jolly manner. No matter how funny, safety is paramount – especially when hours from the closest hospital (until those in charge shut that one down too and than it will be at the will of being flown out should that be possible).

  11. Thanks for sharing, even I, who learned from my dad at a young age, watching him fell tall trees, sawing, splitting, hauling, stacking; have made some boo boos. Even the most safety conscious folks make mistakes. I’m sure that anyone who has and still does this kind of work has many a story to tell on the matter. I would have sore fingers from typing if I told my stories. By the way, Grey, that’s a big saw ya got there.

  12. And unless you have tons of acellerent materials, you will eventually have to start your fires with tinder. Pruning shears are a quick way to cut this up and use less energy than a hatchet. A ‘Boys Axe’ both lighter and shorter) is easier to work with, but requires a higher chopping block, or you are too close to your work. ALWAYS check over head and to the sides to see if anything will deflect your swing.

    Don’t discount electric saws if you have the charging capacity. Much less finicky than gas models. We have both standard and pole saws and wish we had them years ago. They now hold a charge long enough for us to actually tire out (including the effort to move wood to site).

    I laughed a bit, but actually nodded my head in agreement to what you said. Thanks for your post.

  13. I have a Sopkis Magnum wood cook stove. Modern design, excellent value for the money.

    Regarding chainsaws, I moved from the prairie to mountain forest. Green broke horses nearly broke my back years ago, so I bought a small chainsaw. Locals laughed at me with my tiny tool. At the end of the day, I was still cutting and those with the 36″ cutter bar saws had quit in exhaustion long ago.

  14. Humorous article. Lessons learned the hard way. If one does not have experience using a chain saw, swallow your pride, seek help and advice from someone who does. A chain saw is a dangerous piece of equipment, more so than a firearm. I worked as a faller in my younger years. Logging in Washington, Idaho and a tramp logger in Southeast Alaska. Contrary to what most believe, using a small chain saw is more hazardous than a large one. I prefer a saw with a bar not less than 36″ and an engine size with enough comparable power.

    Unless you are an experienced faller and have proper equipment, never attempt to fall a tree near structures, vehicles or power lines! Using the right techniques, most leaning trees can be made to swing in a sideways direction.

    Make no mistake, even experienced fallers can have some really bad near misses. I call’em knee knockers. When the incident is over, you gotta set on a stump because your knees are shaking so bad it’s hard to stand. Been there.

  15. Never forget about the wind. I once had an abrupt wind change that tried to drop a tree on my head. It was a very scary experience and the 180 degree change in wind direction happened in literal seconds just as the tree began its pops and cracks the precede the fall.

  16. my suggestion is to never ever use a chain saw of any size when you are alone unless you absolutely have to with no alternative. When I use a chain saw either my wife or one of my sons is on overwatch and we always have a discussion about what we are going to do and which way we want the tree, etc to fall. AND always have the first aid kit with tourniquet and blood clot packet nearby make sure whom ever is with you knows how to use them..

  17. Additional points, never park your truck so that a fallen tree will block your path to the hospital.
    Wear a hard hat with a screen visor and safety glasses. Wear vibration reducing gloves. Make sure the anti-kickback brake works. Don’t disable the safety features. Keep your saw sharp. When you set up a fancy block and tackle make sure you put a few blankets over the ropes that are anywhere near you so in case they snap, you will not be hurt by flying rope/hardware. There are some Youtube videos which show some expert cutting a bunch of trees but leaving them standing, then felling the big one that pushes all the others over. This is a bad idea for many reasons. Showing off and chainsaw don’t mix well. Have to go buy some chaps.

  18. Soapstone masonry heaters are so much better than metal wood stoves that there is no comparison. They are expensive, but they last forever, and are much safer.

    if you are thinking of getting a wood stove, look into soapstone masonry heaters first. You can get them in other materials, but soapstone holds the most heat for the longest amount of time. But even in other materials, they are better than metal.

    They also come with pretty glass windows for watching the fire. Some have ovens.

  19. When I turned 60, I decided chainsaws were scary. I reluctantly sawed some branches of a small tree for the wife, and while doing the deed, I was scared for my own safety. Yes, I geared up, but felt that wasn’t enough.
    Stay Safe…

  20. Chain saws are like any other tool and must be respected. Most any tool not properly used can cause discomfort and /or injury. Chain saws can produce a huge amount of work when used with knowledge and properly.

    After 41 years of using chain saws with but the most minor of injuries while felling, bucking and limbing I have discovered what works best for me at 5’9″ and 155 #s. My 75cc Husky has a 28″ bar and saves my back while limbing because I don’t need to bend over as much as with a smaller bar and it is well balanced, but I once did notch my work boot just barely while wading through deep slash and removing limbs. My 99cc Husky with a 36″ bar is wonderful for felling large trees and bucking them with a single cut usually.

    Buy a quality saw that works for your abilities and needs for the trees you will be working on. Get good instruction. I did much of my cutting solo but tried as much as possible to have others within a closer proximity if possible, but searching for deadfall and cutting in the national forests it wasn’t always possible to have a buddy around. I was careful and lucky to never needed emergency medical help. Eye and ear protection are mandatory and Kevlar chaps are recommended. I have never used chaps, but also have 1000s of hours behind the trigger on a saw and if I was starting out today they would be in my safety gear.

    A sharp saw, like a sharp knife is necessary for good performance and safety, so keep it sharp. You will need all of the accessories to be successful out in the woods. If felling NEVER have anyone or your truck, tools within the height of the tree (I have seen more than one truck hit because it was too close) I like to have two saws with me when cutting just in case I get a saw bound up or pinched in a cut, it happens and I have actually had both saws stuck in the same tree, that is where wedges and/or chain and truck come into play if necessary.

  21. Been there, done that. Nearly 10 years ago at age 64 I decided to create a gardening spot from a wooded area. Trees were 75 foot tall – so what did I do …. set up 6 sections of scaffolding ( 30 feet ) cabled to said tree, then platform on top and 16 ft. ladder, had to go BEYOND the ladder ( total 50 + feet ) and drilled holes in heavy branches to which I secured some long eye bolts. Threaded heavy rope and tied to trunk of tree. Wife was below with end of rope. Used Lon.n.n.g.g. electric cord and electric chainsaw to cut heavy branches.
    Long story short – I’m still here, wife knows how to ” slowly ” lower branches, and garden doing wonderful. Now at 74 and a few more trees to go – think I’ll hire an arborist !

  22. You had me laughing, spilling my coffee over my keyboard !!!!, we all learn by mistakes, all the keyboard warriors and YT armchair critics are just that. Pay no heed to any of them if you can do it, in my late 50’s still learning, the picture of attaching a nylon rope to your minivan to stop said tree falling on your house is classic gold, YT has clips of people attaching snatch straps to 4x4s stuck in mud or deep water with the result of ripping the front winch bar completely off the chassis due to incorrect mounting or wrong tensile bolts on the steel bar, I had visions of your minivan going sailing through the air or seriously damaged !. Look forward to part 2 ,great article.

    Took me decades to learn wisdom and bushcraft skills.

  23. I bought a 24 inch John Deere professional chain saw at a pawn shop when I was in my 20’s. The weight left me exhausted. Someone stole it and I bought a 16 inch Poulan that has served me nearly 30 years. Whoever stole that monster John Deere did me a favor.

  24. One very important point not mentioned in the article and one my father always insisted upon. Keep your work area clean. While handling a chainsaw it is important not to have small limbs and debris which can be a trip hazard underfoot. Taking time to clear your work area can prevent a trip, and a potential trip to the ER.

  25. Thank you. Knowing I am not alone made my day. Although I always had my wood delivered, pre-split (the extra cost was worth it to me), I did find that not all that wood would fit in my stove, so owning a chain saw was the only way I could think of to get the max use of the pre-split wood I paid dearly for. I got an electric one, since my wood was stacked close (but not too close) to the house and electricity was available. Only AFTER I got someone to show me how to use this cute little saw was I able to actually cut through an entire piece of pre-split wood. (Turns out there is a trick to it, who knew. LOL)

  26. I have a large red oak tree (30″dbh) over hanging a new garage,should have taken it down before building. I am going to hire it done by a professional tree removal service this summer. Lesson to be learned is to step back, look up and all around to see what trees need to be taken down before you start a project;it will most likely save you time and money.

  27. ABSOLUTELY THE BEST ARTICLES I HAVE EVER READ ON THIS WEBSITE! Terrific writer- hope she does this for a living.

    Hope someone explained to her about using non-steel wedges when splitting or falling trees, as metal wedges, especially when well used can throw off a piece like schapnel and severely injure or kill the woodsman/ woman.

  28. Dan, thank you so much! I do not write for a living but I appreciate the vote of confidence. Also appreciate the tip. I actually do have and use metal wedges for splitting wood and had no idea they could be hazardous. As I usually miss hitting them entirely with the big sledge I imagine the risk is somewhat mitigated but I will definitely investigate other options in case my aim improves!

  29. Grey Woman, if you dress up the wedges metal is fine. Just like a chisel the mushroom head needs to be filled or ground down. Just part of tool maintenance.
    Enjoyed the stories and lessons. Keep up the good work.

  30. The chainsaw is probably the most dangerous tool the “average” person might have cause to use in their lifetime and opening your leg up like a tuna can is only half the danger. I did power line, railroad right-of-way and municipal tree trimming for several years and 90% of the mishaps I’ve witnessed involved falling trees or limbs. Most of the time they fall exactly where you want them to, then there’s the other times. Respect them all, prepare for any eventuality and pay rapt attention every single step of the way. There a reason we called a “hanger” a “widow maker”, many small cuts might be more of a hassle but it beats having your femur snapped or your head caved in.

    Learn how to sharpen the chain. If it’s not sharpened and maintained regularly it WILL fail when you need it the most. Chainsaw fails are like gun fails…irrevocable.

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