Wood Cutting – A hard core love.
By Mackenzie Mullett
There’s something magical about an early rise and heading in the country to harvest wood, whether it be firewood or logs to be further utilized. There’s something about it that I find very enjoyable. Whether it be doddering out the road with a load of logs behind you enjoying the scenery, or falling a huge aspen that will shake the ground, wood cutting is something I thoroughly enjoy.
People say to me, “Isn’t it easier to turn up the thermostat, or go to the store and get the lumber you need?” No doubt it is but you don’t get the same feeling knowing that your heating your home with the wood you cut, or spending time in a cottage that is made out of lumber that you cut yourself. As my uncle would say “Nothing good comes easy”, cutting wood isn’t easy especially if your sawing large timer. Trying to lift 10 foot white birch logs with a 14” diameter onto a set of bunk sleds is a task, but I still love it. But at the end of the day you’ll have no trouble sleeping!
Every tree in the woods is not equal either. When picking out trees for logs there are some things that you should pay attention to. The straighter the tree the better because if a log has a bi bow into it, than you will have a lot of wastage when you saw the log straight. In addition, the less limbs the better. If a tree has many limbs growing from it, then it will take you a while to limb it out, also the more knots will be in a board, the weaker it will become. You should also be looking at the general health of the tree. If the tree has seen better days, than sometimes it has begun to rot on the inside which will not make good lumber. Say you see an ideal tree and you saw it down. Upon closer inspection you see that the butt of the tree is littered with ants and their pathways. All hope is not lost! All you do is just work up the tree in one-foot sections and sawing off that piece until all the ant holes are gone.
Once you have the perfect tree in your crosshairs, then you have to take it down. There are many different cuts that you could use but this is how it’s most commonly done. First you should make the area around the tree clear so you have a safe place to work and escape if something bad should take place. Next you make a wedge cut close to the ground. Than you make a cut on the back of the tree about an inch or a inch and a half above the previous cut but not cutting all the way to the previous cut. Take your time and when you see the tree starting to fall, stop cutting and back away. You shouldn’t cut all the way through because you need some “hinge wood” there to control the tree as it falls. Once down, start taking all the limbs off the tree and stop when the tree is 2” in diameter and cut the rest off. From here you can decide if you want to make firewood or logs. If you want logs, you cut them off to the desired length adding on 6” for squaring. For example, if you wanted a 10-footer than you cut it 10’6”. If you want fire wood than you start junking it off at the desired lengths.
Just remember if you’re cutting logs than you need to be prepared to move it. I use bunk sleds to move my logs. I drive my sleds right alongside the log, load one end of it onto the sled and then the other side. Sometimes it might not be easy but it has to be done. There are some tools out there like a plus hook or a hookaroon that can help you load them. I also made one that helps out a lot, it’s an axe with a hook welded on the back, this seems to be the real answer.
Once Lumber is made from the logs, it needs to be stacked and cover for a couple of years left to dry. From then you can make whatever you want from it. I make a lot of custom pieces of furniture so I use the lumber for that, but I’m also planning on building a cabin soon so a lot of the lumber this year will be used for that project.