I don’t know what’s nerdier, using a hand saw to cut out deadfall, or writing an article about it. Anyway, most people probably never give much thought to how those trees laying across the trail magically disappear. There are several ways: trail users remove smaller ones that can be moved by one or more people, or cut with a pack saw;  staff in many parks remove them once they are notified of the location;  or GORC sawyers, with the park’s permission, cut them out. There are 5 or 6 active sawyers right now, so the same guys keep getting called on.


After spending a long evening recently dealing with Stinkbait’s finicky Poulan to remove a couple of trees on Dogwood and DeClue, I decided chainsaws were a real pain. Not having any desire to own one, got me looking for alternatives, and I came across the Fanno Bull Saw, which is billed as a one-man crosscut saw.

I figured that if I could cut out these trees on Deer Run shown in the pictures, I could probably do anything because:
–the tree was green
–the crown was caught up in another tree putting it in compression
–the diameter was ~10-14″
— the tree was high  off the ground and couldn’t be supported it until it got lower
–it was hot
–my assistant had a short attention span

To make a short story short, it took about 45 minutes to make 4+ cuts. I think it would have been much faster had I used wedges, and all of the above stuff hadn’t been against me. A chainsaw would have probably been done with everything in about 10 minutes or less, assuming everything went as expected. Overall, the time getting ready + time spent cutting probably balanced out.

This saw works pretty smoothly, but was certainly more work than a chainsaw. The good things: much smaller investment; no time loading up bob-trailer and necessary equipment; no need for all the chainsaw safety equipment (chaps, earplugs); quiet, no smelly exhaust. I’ll use it again for uncomplicated ones, but will probably leave the more difficult ones for a chainsaw.

Edit 3/30/11: Since I wrote the original post last fall, I’ve used the saw again at Greensfelder and SIUE. It really makes pretty quick work of trees up to about 10″, and usually only takes a short time to get through, depending on how fit I am at the time… I’ve run into a few problems with trees that were lying flat on the ground, but as long as they’re elevated enough to get the saw underneath as well, it hasn’t been that big a deal.