This is the beginning of the main season for foresters, whose job is now about getting the forest ready for winter. It includes felling old trees that would pose a risk in strong winds or snowstorms. The professional calls these trees "hazard trees". Felling them calls for a professional with the appropriate knowledge and training. Handling the work materials is every bit as important as knowing the correct procedure, in order to prevent injuries. The OCHSENKOPF team performed a self-experiment under the guidance of a landscape gardener to fell a tree.
Our target: an approximately 30-metre tree had to go, because its leaves blocked the air conditioning system in a nearby production facility. Our tools: an OCHSENKOPF BIG OX and the fierce determination to fill the trailer we had brought along with firewood. The appointed landscaper starts by thoroughly inspecting the tree. In which direction is it growing, where are its weak points? "It's important to know this to establish the direction of fall," explains the expert. Then he sets to work. The tree diameter is about 30 cm. He takes up his chainsaw and, working at hip height, cuts a wedge out of the tree on the side on which he wants it to fall. He then saws the felling cut on the other side of the trunk. This is where the OCHSENKOPF tool now comes into play. He positions the OCHSENKOPF solid aluminium wedge in the felling cut, and uses the BIG OX, the professional wood splitting hammer, to hammer it into the trunk. The wood cracks loudly with every blow. The tree tilts to the desired side, and then falls with a dull thud.
Wow - that was fast. But we can't leave the tree lying there like that, and of course we also want to take the wood home with us for the fire. The landscaper shows us why axes with a narrow head are used for lopping. As it is used to strike across the wood grain, a long blade with a flat head is better at penetrating the wood. So we first remove the smaller branches from the trunk using our OCHSENKOPF Iltis axe. To compare, we then use the OCHSENKOPF SPALT FIX axe, which can also be used with one hand as it has a much shorter handle. Then it's back to the chainsaw again: the professional quickly cuts the thick trunk down into pieces about 1 metre in length, which we now want split "by hand". The expert shows us a number of wind cracks in the cross section of the tree. "If you hit the splitting axe right into here, you'll be able to split the trunk in no time!" Well - no sooner said than done ... or not, in our case! "Look at the spot you want the axe to hit, and then hit it," is the advice, but we still don't always get it right. But we're not giving up, and after a few hits we're finally able to insert an aluminium rotary splitting wedge, and use the wood splitting hammer to hammer the blade into the trunk until it finally splits in two. Now we understand why it's always a good idea to use a hammer with a protective sleeve: we miss our target point a few times, and that sort of thing would seriously affect a handle without this sleeve. We continue halving the timber like this until we have finally split the whole trunk into logs - we're going to feel it tomorrow! Absolutely exhausted but extremely happy, we load the logs on the trailer and start looking forward to cosy evenings in front of the fire - once it has been seasoned, of course.
Note: Always call an expert to fell your trees, as they will know the conditions and regulations.