guest post by Doug Hansmann

Our architect gave us his shopping list for 73 joists, rafters, posts and beams for our new house today.  He could supply everything from his woods, but we hope to find most of them on our own 44 acres.

Here’s what it will take:

  1. Trees — check!  Those we have.  And with Whole Tree Architecture as our guide, we won’t be clear cutting our prime specimens.  Quite the opposite.  We will be weeding out the trees that are either over crowded and/or showing some irregularities, otherwise known as character. For the most part, a forester might call these weed trees.  Culling them will leave the remaining woods healthier. Talk about green.
  2. Tools – check!  We’ve got a Stihl chain saw, with which I’m moderately skilled, and I’ve always been happy with its performance.   We also have loppers, bow saws and a pole saw, which we have put to good use on many a tree, but now that we are tree herders for 44 acres as well as filling out Roald’s list of 73 very specific trees, these hardware store purchases don’t seem up to the task.  Which leads to….
  3. Time and muscle.  We are by no means work averse, but preparing whole timbers for Roald as well as manually managing the natural areas we have come to cherish, is a daunting task for two people with full time town jobs.

We began to research new and better tools and were intrigued by testimonials stating that with the right precision hand tools, the chain saw starts to gather dust.  Being suckers for anything that trades manual labor for powered alternatives, we read on.

One source that I recommend is the Forestry Supplier’s catalog.  My brother-in-law, as a life-long forest fire fighter in the high coniferous forests of Northern Arizona, will testify to the dependability and quality that can be expected when shopping from this source.

...Sugoi 420

Our first upgrade arrived last week —  an elegantly curved hand saw made by Silky.  It has a high-tech, tapering blade that is both strong and yet cuts a narrow kerf (the width of the cut).  A lot of saws will splay out their teeth to make sure the saw blade doesn’t get stuck in the kerf as you go deeper into the wood, but these Silky’s take a different approach that cuts away less wood for a precise and fast slice.

..Our new hand saw fits into spots the old bow saw couldn't manage.

Our 14.5-inch Silky Sugoi sports a low profile that gets it into places that you couldn’t get to with a chain saw or a bow saw.  It rides in a holster, so when we are not cutting, we can tuck it safely out of the way as we gather up piles of brush and drag them to the burn circle.

Silkys aren’t cheap, but when you have a lot of work to do, that cost melts away in efficiency.  If the alternative is to hire someone to do the work for you, or burn through a lot of gas with a chain saw, the price starts to seem downright reasonable.  And the satisfaction of cutting quickly through a wayward limb with your own strength just can’t be beat.

Last weekend we gave our new saw a test spin.  How did it go?  Well, we came home and ordered a second one.  This puppy is too fun to share.  Cutting on the pull stroke allows you to cut at the top of your reach with control.   Again this is something that is awkward and/or dangerous with a bow saw or chain saw.  To maximize our reach, we went for the 16.5 inch for our second hand saw.

These saws won’t totally replace the chain saw.  Though I think I could literally take down a 10” diameter hardwood tree with my new Sugoi, I will probably chose my Stihl for most trunks over 6 inches.  But with our new Silkys on the job, I don’t think I’ll be spending as much time sharpening my chain saw teeth.

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