Village Science - Teacher Edition


Falling Trees & Small-Scale Logging

Teacher Edition Contents

Skill, Tools, & Craftsmanship

Cutting & Drying Fish
Nails, Pegs, & Lashings
Falling Trees &
     Small-Scale Logging
Chainsaw Clutch & Chain
Ice Pick


Wood Stoves
Wall Tents
Insulation & Vapor Barriers
Gas Lamps & Gas Stoves


Piloting A Boat
Boat Design
Magnetos & Spark Plugs
Outboard Motor Lower Unit

Outboard Motor Cooling System
Snowmachine Tracks
Snowmachine Clutch
Winter Trails


  1. Cut a small tree. Have a person push the tree with a pole held ten to twelve feet up the trunk. Does the pole help to push the tree over with enough inertia that it doesn’t get hung up?

    It should help greatly. Don’t push the tree by hand. There isn’t enough leverage, and the person pushing is too close to the chainsaw.

  2. Purchase a couple of plastic wedges. Use them to tip trees that are leaning the wrong way. Make wooden wedges out of dry wood. Compare the results. One person should run the saw and another person drive the wedges.

    Wedges are absolutely amazing. They can lift and fall a tree in the complete opposite direction than it is leaning.

  3. Before falling a tree, stand back and hang an axe head down from your hand at arm’s length. It will hang straight down according to gravity. Line the axe handle in your sight against the tree. Can you see any leaning of the tree? Does this help determine how you fall the tree? Some people say this isn’t worth doing on flat ground, but helps greatly on a slight hillside. What do you think?

    A good eye on flat ground can tell which direction a tree will go, but on a hillside it is tough without some kind of plumb bob. The axe serves this purpose.

  4. Ask local people how they release trees that are hung up.

    This is very dangerous. Don’t follow any advise, just get opinions.

  5. Have a contest. Let several people put a stick in the ground twenty-five feet away from a tree. See who can fall their tree the closest to the stake. Make good use of the trees.

    This is a good test of ability to fall a tree. Use constant caution. There is no aspect of falling trees that isn’t dangerous.

  6. Ask local people if they can tell the difference between falling trees in summer and winter. Do they snap more noticeably in the winter?

    They should notice that trees snap a little quicker in the winter. In the summer they groan and slowly go over.

  7. Ask local people what happens if you fall a tree and don’t first make a notch in the front of the tree. Do their comments agree with the above text?

    I tried this once. It sent me and my saw at least 15’. Believe it, but don’t demonstrate! The idea of this conversation is to keep students from ever making this mistake on their own.

  8. Try skidding a log on the ground. Put skids underneath as described in the text above. What are the differences?

    It should be very noticeable.

  9. Ask the oldtimers in the village if there are any pictures of the old winches that were used to pull logs up the bank.

  10. Ask them how they skidded the logs. Did any of them do it in the manner described in the above text?

Student Response

  1. Draw a tree whose center of gravity is leaning to the right.

  2. Why would a living tree be more effected by the wind than a dead one?

    The branches have needles to catch the wind.

  3. Draw what will happen if there is no notch in the front of the tree.

    The tree will split up the trunk and endanger the logger and saw.

  4. Draw what will happen if the notch on the front of the tree is not V cut, but only as wide as the saw blade.

    It will fall until the cut is closed and then will stop. The tree will not fall unless the whole hinge is cut, which is dangerous.

  5. Draw the top view of the stump of a tree that was made to pull to the left.

  6. Why is it dangerous to completely cut the hinge when falling a tree?

    The tree can fall in any direction. The butt of the tree can jump in any direction.

  7. Why is falling trees more dangerous in the winter than in the summer?

    The frozen trees snap and fall quickly rather than leaning and stretching the way they do in the summer.

  8. Why does the logger want the tree to fall fast once it starts to go down?

    Its inertia will carry it through branches of other trees that might hang it up.

  9. When skidding logs out of the woods, what is the most important thing to avoid? Name one technique for doing this.

    Avoid friction. Peel some small blocks and skid the tree on the smooth rounded surface of the blocks.

  10. From the whole lesson, list four things that are dangerous when logging.

    Cutting the hinge. Logging against the wind, not cutting a notch on the side the tree is to fall. Trees that have fallen and are wedged between other trees.


  1. Matt can fall and limb 25 trees a day. He can cut an average of 36’ of 6” x 6” houselogs from each tree. His house is going to be 24’ x 32’ with 8’ high walls (each linear foot of houselog = .5 square foot). Approximately how many days must he log in order to get enough logs to make his house out of three-sided logs?

    He needs 1792 linear feet of house logs. This is 49.7 or 50 logs. It will take him 2 days to fall and limb the logs and 2 days to mill the logs. Total 4 days.

  2. Matt is done with his house. He figures that he needs 5 cords of wood to get through the winter. A cord of wood is 4’ x 4’ x 8’. He can cut and split approximately 100 cubic feet of wood a day. How long will it take him to cut and split enough wood for all winter?

    5 cords is 640 cu. ft. This is approximately 6.4–6.5 days

  3. Harold can fall and raft 100 logs in 7 days. Two men can do the same job in 3 days. He has to take time off his job making $100 a day to do this. He can pay his nephew $80 a day to help him. Which is cheaper for Harold: to work alone or hire help?

    If he works alone it costs him $700 in lost wages.

    If he hires his nephew, it costs him $300 in lost wages for himself and $240 to hire his nephew. He saves $160 by hiring his nephew. In addition, he is teaching his nephew and he is being more responsible to his job. None of this takes the IRS into account.

Questions or comments?
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