Feb 26 Experiences on a chainsaw course, by Richard
I recently gained certificates in NPTC CS30 (Maintain & operate the Chainsaw) & CS31 (Fell & process trees up to 15 inches).
Training was a six day course carried out by David Rossney of ESUS Forestry. The first two days were mainly workshop based where we covered both theory and practical maintenance of the chainsaw itself.
The following week was four days instruction and practice thinning conifers in woods near Cranbrook. I found this section somewhat challenging, not only from the cold, snow, slush, rain and mud, but the physical effort required, particularly when freeing hung-up trees. We were taught to fell using a number of different techniques and at all times the emphasis was on safety. Of the five persons on the course, four of us were judged to be suitable to go forward for assessment.
The assessment consisted first of a morning in the workshop where we answered theory questions, plus sharpening and stripping down our chainsaws. In the afternoon we were in some nearby woods and selected some trees already marked for thinning. The assessor required me to fell my first tree so that it deliberately hung up. I went for a basic fell. First cutting the mouth in the direction of fall followed by a horizontal cut from the back leaving a “hinge” to control direction. I had completed the cut & was withdrawing the saw when the tree sat back (possibly due to a slight breeze), slightly trapping the bar. Luckily there was just enough gap to get a small felling lever into the far side & I was able to release the saw. I restarted my saw & made a small plunge cut into the felling cut, inserted the felling lever & the tree went over as intended, caught up on another tree. To free it I trimmed the hinge & used the cant hook on the felling lever to roll the tree away from me until it came free. I then snedded it, crosscut in two metre lengths and stacked it.
For my second test I was required to fell a tree on sloping ground and with a slight upslope lean, but the assessor wanted it felled at right angles to the slope. I used a felling lever or split level cut and although it fell in the required direction became entangled in another tree. I trimmed the hinge, but because of the sloping ground I decided it would be too dangerous work below the butt to roll it free in its preferred direction. Working from the uphill side I removed the hinge completely. Then cleaned up the butt so that it would be less liable to dig in and was able to slowly work the tree down the slope using a two metre length of timber until the tree became free. It was with some relief that the assessor later informed me that I had reached the required standard.
As a result of the knowledge I gained on the course I feel much more confident about felling and recognise the potential dangers inherent in forestry and chainsaws themselves. Just as important as the knowledge of how to fell a tree in a correctly is how to complete the job safely when things do not go as expected.
Introductory video on chainsaw sharpening
Introductory video of a fell using a split level cut.
Please note: this information does not replace the need to attend a course in chainsaw use and felling!