Friday, November 1, 2013


Two years of drought have taken a toll on my trees and above is number 26 that I have cut down. Actually I just completed cutting down number 25 and 26 but didn't take a picture of number 25. I have three more within the mowed boundaries (many more in the unmowed portion) that are about three quarters dead and probably won't leaf out next year but I'm leaving them up for now since I have more than enough firewood to get me through this year.

This tree was a pretty good sized tree about 20 inches in diameter at the base and leaning over the gorge dividing the halves of my property. Because I am not a technical chainsaw person by any stretch of the imagination, I enlisted the help of my brother who is an expert in the field. We ended up felling the tree up the gorge to the left in this picture using a well placed notch and some wedges. It didn't take long to cut up the tree but was a chore since we were always scrambling along the 45 degree slope and also it took two people to keep the rounds from rolling down into the ditch when each cut was completed.

Because I have plenty of firewood, I decided I would try something different and saved a four foot section of the trunk along with a couple longer sections about 18 inches in length. The two shorter sections I later used my chainsaw to cut into large squares that are going to become some rustic plant stands near my fireplace. The longer section I wanted to try to saw some planks out of for another project or two perhaps.

Cutting the two plant stand rounds into squares went relatively easily but cutting planks out of a log using nothing but a chainsaw was pretty tough work. I only have a 16 inch bar on my saw so it wouldn't even go all the way through the 20 inch diameter trunk. I ripped the section in half fairly cleanly and then sawed each half into quarters. I wanted all the oak to be quarter sawn so the quarters I planned to cut from one edge and then the other to alternate them to get that effect. The problem was that without a ripping chain for the saw, getting two cuts roughly parallel was nearly impossible. I managed to cut several planks out of two of the quarters before my chain was as dull as a butter knife.

When I had bought the saw last fall, I hadn't bought something to sharpen the chains with thinking that I would do so later but I haven't yet done that. So I got out my second spare chain and put it on the saw. Five minutes later the chain came off the sprocket. I tried putting the chain back on but a couple of the rivets in the links were frozen up for some reason and the chain appeared to have gotten really hot. Also, the chain wouldn't slide into the bar in a dozen different places. Suspecting that I had a big problem, I quite for the evening and went inside.

The next morning, I took the saw apart to clean the oil ports but they seemed to be functioning quite fine. I lubricated the chain and rotated the links around the rivets that seemed stiff and got them to work again normally. On closer inspection of the chain, I was that when the chain came off, the drive gear had burred the inside parts of the chain that seats in the groove of the bar which is why I couldn't get it back on. I took my dremel tool to it to file off the burrs and that problem was solved. I also read the instruction manual for the first time and found out why the chain had fallen off to begin with. With any new chain, they recommend only running for a minute or two before retightening it and repeating for several times until the chain is broke in and stretched out. I like a dummy had assumed chain didn't stretch.

With the chainsaw back up and running, I decided I had enough of trying to freehand planks from a tree with a crosscut chain and just hacked the two remaining quarters into fireplace lengths. I was able to successfully smooth out two of my slabs from the day before into 2" thick boards about 12" wide and 4 feet long using my planer, jointer and tablesaw. The rest was two warped or not parallel enough to even come close to being useable and were kicked outside to become firewood. If I ever try this again, I am going to get one of those devices you can connect to your chainsaw bar to turn it into a portable sawmill of sorts and also get a ripping chain.

Burning some of the debris the next day before all the leaves fall turning everything into a fire hazard.


Anonymous said...

Sharpening the chain is easy=peasy. If you have a bench vice that is. All you do is clamp the bar in the vice and stand at 35* to the bar and rub the round file along the cutting teeth. Sometimes, but not very often you need a flat file to rub down the rakers. There is no need to go hi-tec with electric files or any of that BS. Just go online and find the breed of chain. Mostly the sizing of the teeth is the same so the same file can be used for most chains. But there are the odd little 'look at meee' out there that it's best to check. Get the Bro to show you the action. It can be a bit counterintuitive. But it really is one of those monkey see monkey do, a bit like knowing to sand with the grain.
Plus, you can get a new bar&chain easily. In fact, doing that job you were about, would have been better having a large bar simply because you wouldn't be labouring the saw by using the nose of the bar. You can rock the saw up and down continuing to cut at the narrowest point.
Such a pity all the same the trees are dying.

Ed said...

Vince - Since writing this, I have gotten a file for my chains and after watching a video, sharpened them all. I have yet to try them out to see how sharp I actually got them but by feeling with my fingertip, they are definitely much sharper.