John K Jordan
>>>When I was working on the Mendota Trail this summer we had a heavy leaner at one of the bridge approaches. It was too small to bore cut and release but big enough to be worrisome just cutting. We had an excavator on site with a "jaw". The operator drove it up to the tree and grabbed it in the jaw. We cut the tree at the base and he set it safely on the ground. But then he had another idea. He hoisted it up horizontally like it was on a saw buck and we whacked into firewood. I thought to myself, that is the way to do it!
You've got that right! I tell people it's a woodturning tool since I can hold a 2-3000 lb log at a comfortable height off the ground and cut chunks off it to process into turning blanks!
Not only quicker, easier, and keeps the blade far away from the dirt but it lets me brush dirt/gravel off the bark before cutting. It's also safer, less climbing around on brush, less chance of a kickback from inattention to a branch hidden behind the log.
I had a big red oak come down across my driveway to the shop, still 24" in diameter about 40' from the base - nice wood! Even holding the large upper limbs made sawing safer and a lot quicker.
When clearing downed trees and pine trees I'm taking down, I lift up the tree to make it easier to cut into smaller logs that fit into my trailer. BTW, the hydraulic grabber on the bucket is called a "thumb". Never buy or rent one without a hydraulic thumb! I also use it to move rocks too, some very large.
The excavator is my preferred method to take out smallish trees (up to maybe 8 inches or so) without cutting them down - I dig up around the roots then push over the tree.
I sometimes use this on larger trees IF I decide it's safe, for example, if the tree is sound and unlikely to break out large branches while pushing AND if it's leaning in the direction I want it to fall AND there is no significant wind.
This pine tree had been in the way at my hay storage for years - taking it down let me level and widen the trailer turn-around area. The tree was about 30" in diameter at the ground - it took a hole about 6' wide all the way around and 4' deep before I could push it over:
This method has the huge advantage of removing the stump at the same time!
I've also taken down fairly large trees (20"+) by pulling one side with a hefty steel cable hooked to the tractor, sometimes using a snatch block to keep the tractor or bobcat far out of the line of fall. I'll soon use this method on a number of worthless scrub (Virginia) pines I need to clear out of the hardwood areas.
A bucket with a thumb is fantastic for clearing junk vegetation. I'm on a quest to remove every single invasive bush honeysuckle and privet on the property. If I cut them down or mow down small shrubs they simply come back at the roots. Grab with the bucket/thumb and pull them out by the roots and they are gone. This also works for small trees of any type up to about 4" in diameter. (My forester recommended clearing out the small trees, soft maples, etc, in favor of the larger hardwoods.)
I've also found the bucket and thumb great for clearing out overgrown Leyland Cypress trees, 8 of these about 30' tall - I start at the bottom and grab one branch at a time with the bucket/thumb and rip it off, swing around and put it in a pile. When I've cleared enough lower branches I dig around the roots then push the rest over. They are light enough in weight to then pick up the rest of the tree and move it. (Any time I pick up a tree with roots or even a stump dug out of the ground I lift it up as high as I can and drop it enough times to knock most of the dirt loose!)
Oh, if renting one to dig up stumps I recommend a narrow bucket. I have 12" and 24" buckets and the narrower bucket is a lot easier for digging in tight places. The bigger is better for moving dirt.
Good clean fun.