How to handle large tree logs

Once a tree has been felled and trimmed of limbs, it is generally hauled elsewhere for conversion into boards. Trunks that are too long or heavy to move must be sawn into sections. These tips will show you how to handle the task with ease.

How to handle large tree logs

Make your cuts near crooks or defects to preserve good board wood. Log lengths may range from 60 centimetres (25 inches) to five metres (16 1/2 feet), depending on intended use and your ability to haul them. Log hauling can be done with a winch, pulling logs to make a groove that later logs can follow.

In flat country, a tractor or a four-wheel-drive vehicle with tire chains can be very efficient. Buy a good tree identification handbook and use it to identify your trees so that you will know what you are cutting.

1. How to slice a log

Quality of lumber depends on what part of the tree it is from. Innermost heartwood is relatively weak; use it only for heavy lumber and thick planks. Best boards come from the surrounding area. Avoid using extreme outer sapwood next to the bark. Planks are less likely to warp if cut with rings perpendicular to the sawn sides of the board when viewed from the end. Boards whose ends show curving lines will "cup" as they dry.

Two basic ways to cut boards are backsawing (slicing the full diameter of the log) and quartersawing (cutting the log into quarter sections before ripping it into boards). Backsawing yields wider boards and more lumber per log; quartersawing yields more high-quality boards.

2. Using a vehicle to haul logs

A four-wheel-drive vehicle that has tire chains and a power winch is efficient but less manoeuvrable than a draft animal in rugged terrain. Keep the vehicle away from deep mud and thick bush. Use a pulley chained to a tree to manoeuvre logs around sharp turns. Pad the chain to prevent damage to the tree trunk.

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