After reviewing an incident last week involving a decayed trunk that was unknown to the feller and reviewing two close calls with very similar circumstances, the question that comes to mind is: Are we doing all that we can to find out what kind of wood fiber, if any, is in the tree? Are the fibers punky, wet, dry, consistent, solid, etc.?
A couple of techniques that we can use are a vertical bore or plunge cut (i.e., bar of the chainsaw is vertical) into the area we will be cutting into for the notch or back cut. By using the chainsaw in a vertical position, very little holding fibers will be removed so as not to compromise the integrity of the tree. This technique takes a good amount of skill to perform as the saw operator will be inserting the bottom portion of the tip of the chainsaw into the tree first.
If no one is familiar and comfortable with this technique, then we can try sounding the tree. Sounding usually involves using a hammer or mallet to strike the tree in the area we will be cutting into. If a hammer or mallet is unavailable, then a small piece of limb wood will suffice to strike the tree. It is recommended that sounding be practiced prior to making critical cuts, so the feller can become familiar with what is sound (solid) wood and what is not.
It should be noted that sounding does not help with detecting EAB infested trees.
Taking a few extra moments to gather information re: what’s going on inside the tree may make the difference of a successful felling operation or not.
Your input and feedback are welcomed and appreciated.