How a man applies Horace’s famed “carpe diem” to his long weekends is a Rorschach test of sorts, akin to how he eats red meat. Some heed the wisdom by crushing a twelve pack. Others spackle the bathroom. Your agenda might mix productivity and pleasure…just hopefully not at the same time.
If the plan happens to involve keeping trees in check using a chainsaw, know now that there’s a bit more to handling the tool than yanking a chord and letting ‘er rip. We trekked to Huskvarna, Sweden — a mecca of sorts in the world of chainsaws (pronounced “hoosk-varna” by locals) — to learn the art of cutting firsthand from master logger Lars Strandell. The exacting Swede is a seventeen-year participant and frequent gold medal winner of the World Logging Championships, as well as one of only two world record holders to ever earn a perfect score in the international competition’s tree felling event. Surrounded by the natural serenity of his native land, Strandell demonstrated how pros conduct themselves in the woods.
Read on to learn the tricks of the trade for yourself, or browse the slides above.
1Safety First. Looking out for your safety and anyone else in the area is always your first priority. Wear protective equipment, including a helmet with full-face visor, pants, a long sleeve top, gloves, steel-toe boots and hearing protection. Bringing a friend and a first aid kit never hurts, either. Maintain a proper safety radius of twice the length of the tree you intend to fell and ensure it’s clear of major obstructions and people. If that’s impossible, seek help from a pro.
2Size Up the Tree. Cutting down anything often requires a permit, in some cases, even if you own the land. Do your research in advance to avoid legal headaches. Check if your tree is leaning in any direction. Note the way the wind is blowing. Clear any obstructions and undergrowth around the base of the tree. Never prune with the saw above shoulder height. If rot damage is visible near the base, again, leave it to a professional to handle.
3Plot Your Approach. Look for a clear felling lane and determine where the tree should land. Choose a surrounding feature in the appropriate direction for orientation. You’ll use this later when you begin cutting the trunk. If a tree has buttress roots, remove them from all sides first, sawing the trunk edges in a downward direction. Hold the machine firmly with both hands while cutting and keep fingers and thumbs wrapped around the handles. Don’t be timid. Keeping the chainsaw closer to your body will make it feel lighter and easier to control. Don’t lean over. Bend your knees instead to avoid hurting your back.
Witness Competitive Chain Replacing
4Start the Directional Notch. Standing with legs apart and facing toward where you want to fell the tree, lean against the trunk with your shoulder. Verify your position. Ensure the bar (saw blade) is perpendicular to your orientation landmark and aligned with the saw’s felling sites on the top of the handle if they are present. To avoid a high stump, make this first cut of the directional notch low to the ground. Begin sawing at full throttle, making a horizontal undercut starting from the front face of the tree, roughly a fifth of the way through the trunk.
5Complete the Notch. Make a top cut into the trunk from above at a 60 degree angle, sawing down to meet the horizontal undercut. Pause at points to verify your angle is maintained until you reach your first horizontal undercut.
6Make the Felling Cut. On the opposite side of the trunk, begin another horizontal cut at a level slightly above your initial undercut. Cut until you have enough room to push in a breaking bar from behind, which helps prevent the tree from falling in a wrong direction or from pinching down on the saw blade. Resume sawing and be careful to leave roughly 10 percent of the tree’s diameter uncut before reaching the directional notch. This remaining uncut wood strip serves as a hinge to guide the tree as it falls. Get out of the way. Yell “Timber!” at the top of your lungs as your beautiful accomplishment crashes to the ground. Use the trunk in a rustic training montage, carve a canoe, or just pull a John Matrix and walk around with it.
A New Generation of Chainsaw
There’s a reason Husqvarna chainsaws are considered among the world’s best. They pack more innovative thinking than a Google shuttle bus. Here’s a rundown of their recent advances.
Smart Start: Forget about endless tugging. This advanced starter allows the saw to start quickly with one or two light pulls.
Combined Choke/Stop Control: The easy control limits the risk of engine flooding and makes starting and stopping the saw as straightforward as it gets.
Air Injection: A “centrifugal air cleaning system” bounces larger dust and debris particles before they hit the air filter, improving the saw’s lifespan and reducing times between air filter cleaning.
X-Torq: Engine efficiency gains provide lower fuel consumption while reducing exhaust, making the saw in line with the world’s strictest environmental laws.