THE TIMBER CUTTER CALLS…. TIMBERRR!
There is a fine art to felling timber in the mountains of West Virginia. Next to handling high explosives, timber felling is the second most dangerous job in the state. This page takes you through the process of felling a tree that weighs in excess of 12,000 pounds. SAFETY is the timber cutters number one priority. Hardhats, face shields, ear protection, gloves, saw proof chaps and saw proof steel-toed boots are required.
Looking up, the timber cutter first determines which direction the tree is leaning. He looks for “widow makers” which are rotten limbs, grapevines or other hazards that can prove fatal.
[clear]The timber cutter clears out an escape route and then “notches” the tree on the side where he wants the tree to fall. Falling the tree in a way to avoid injuring younger timber is called “directional felling”.
The timber cutter “bores the heart” to insure the tree does not split or crack.
[clear]The timber cutter starts the back cut just behind the notch with a plunge cut to create a “hinge.” The hinge keeps the tree from breaking off the stump until the back cut is completed.
The timber cutter keeps the tree under control by making just the right cuts. The tree starts to fall very slowly at first and then accelerates rapidly on its way to the ground. Once the tree starts to fall, the timber cutter follows his preplanned escape route.
[clear]Standing a safe distance away from the falling tree, the timber cutter watches for falling limbs. This tree was “laid around the hill” to keep from injuring some high quality younger timber on further downhill.
The timber cutter trims up the “ears” and “whiskers” on the butt of the tree in preparation for transport to the landing. The extra time spent slicking up the butt adds value to the tree when it is sold.
[clear]Sawing off limbs and knots, the timber cutter makes his way towards the top and “tops out” the tree. This is a dangerous time for the timber cutter. He must relieve the stresses created in the huge top and stay clear as the tree settles to the ground.
This professional timber cutter takes a well-deserved rest before heading on to the next tree.