How do I control where a tree will fall?
January 17, 2005 1:18 AM   Subscribe

Two unrelated questions. Extra points for the complex person that answers both.
1. How do I control where a tree I am cutting down will land?
2. I want a stationary mp3 player that fits on top of my stereo. Does anything like that exist - and who produces it?
posted by FidelDonson to Grab Bag (14 answers total)
From a tutorial on cutting wood: Cut a wedge out, do the lateral cut, then drive a metal grenade or wedge into the lateral cut. (In addition to standing outside the fall path of the trunk and branches, you might also want to read about controlling the fall of the tree, depending on what's around it.)

You might look at the Roku Soundbridge as one option for a tabletop MP3 player.
posted by AlexReynolds at 1:28 AM on January 17, 2005

2. I like the mp3 playing capabilities of my TiVo. It integrates with iTunes, so it has access to my smart playlists and such.
posted by Laen at 1:38 AM on January 17, 2005

Depending on how big the tree is, you may be able to control its fall merely by chopping away on the side where you'd like the tree to fall. If the tree is large, and its path must be precise, guy wires (guide ropes) are key. If you have to ask, however, you should probably hire a qualified arborist. Felling trees can be dangerous work.

There are many types of stereo component mp3 players, from DVD players to networked audio devices.
posted by maniactown at 4:24 AM on January 17, 2005

I can't help you with the tree but, as for component mp3 players, I'd go with a Squeezebox. The Squeezebox "streams your music from your computer to your digital stereo over your wireless or ethernet network" and can play "MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC or uncompressed WAV and AIFF audio".
posted by Handcoding at 5:50 AM on January 17, 2005

1. How do I control where a tree I am cutting down will land?

I've never cut down a tree myself, but I grew up in a logging town, and I've seen it done a hundred or so times. Alex's link is a reasonable summary. The best way to do it is to hire a professional, especially if the consequence of getting it wrong is serious, like the tree falls on your house. The next most important thing is to pick a day with limited wind. If you're falling a leafy tree, consider waiting until fall. You'll get a lot less wind involvement with a lot less leaves.

Then use the wedge and cut method described in Alex's link. Also, rent a chainsaw if you don't have one, but have an axe on hand just in case. Felling trees by axe entirely can be very slow, and leaves a lot of time for the wind and gravity to drop the tree on you, so you want a chainsaw, but sometimes a bit of extra axe work becomes necessary. For smaller trees, an axe head is a useful wedge, as well.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:52 AM on January 17, 2005

The tree question - If you have to ask, you probably don't want to be doing it. Can we assume you are trying to avoid crushing something with this tree? If that is the case, get someone that knows what they are doing. Think of it as insurance.

If you just want to know how to do it, read up on it and practice. Start with smaller trees and work your way up. I've dropped a least a dozen very large trees, and countless smaller ones, but I wouldn't feel confident cutting one down near a house. It really isn't hard to do, but there are too many things that can go wrong.

If you decide to do it anyway, definitely use guy wires, and don't forget: drop the chainsaw and run, don't run with the chainsaw.
posted by bh at 6:09 AM on January 17, 2005

Theres many ways to control a tree, wedging at the base is very useful, as described above. Limbing main branches and attaching a guiding line are also effective. The former require tree climbing skills and often increase the risk involved with the activity, something you should evaluate.

A large tree is generally limbed so that it resembles a top hatted pole. After this is done a guide line is attached roughly three quarters up the tree. At this point a horizontal cut is made on the lee side, then a downward wedging cut is made. A tree will creak, ache, and go slow at first, but after it reaches momentum it's unstoppable. During this creaking and aching phase the individuals on the guide(s) line(s) should be pulling as hard as they can. As it goes they'll pull hand over hand until the tree is at seventy degrees, whereupon they'll run out at a ninety degree.

Remember a few things. First, the tree could get stuck in other trees, torquing it around and causing it to jump off its base. This will change the direction of fall. It could also end up thumping you with the tree base. Second, if you decide to limb the tree know what you are doing. I have seen a large limb fall into the cutter, crushing him against the tree. Third, if you decide to climb don't spike your other leg - it is hard to get you down. Fourth, you can reduce your exposure on the guide line by installing a pulley. Fifth, don't bind your saw. Lastly, watch the base not the limbs when you're running.

Bottom line is, if you haven't done this before pay to have it done. Professionals can wig wag a tree through powerlines and between barns, amateurs take out powerlines, decks, and people.
posted by sled at 6:25 AM on January 17, 2005

I'm moderately handy, but have learned through hard experience that there are a number of things that it's much better to have done by someone who does it all the time and knows what they're doing, and boy, tree cutting sure sounds like one of them to me. I but digress.

While a Sqeezebox is doubtlessly a more elegant solution, I neither wanted to futz with a setting up a wireless network or run ethernet down to my stereo. So for the past two years, I've used a battery-less 40 gig HD Creative Labs mp3 player - the old, clunky one that resembles a CD player - sitting on top of my receiver as my music source. It's worked great.
posted by mojohand at 6:53 AM on January 17, 2005

Just a quick tsk-tsk for shoehorning two unrelated questions into a single ask. That's unfair and uncool. Please abide by the rules.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:17 AM on January 17, 2005

Cutting down a tree is so much fun. A friend in my Park Service days used to say "There isn't a man in the world who doesn't like to watch a tree go down." However, where they fall can be unpredictable, especially if there is any wind at all. If the tree is safely away from everything, go for it!

But also what Mo Nickels said.
posted by LarryC at 7:23 AM on January 17, 2005

1. If you have to ask the question, you shouldn't be cutting down trees. That stuff's dangerous.
2. One question per post.
3. MetaTalk.
posted by mkultra at 7:26 AM on January 17, 2005

I've dropped probably a hundred trees, and I get shit scared every time I do it. It's better that way.

If there's anything of value within the tree's possible fall zone, electric wires, etc. find somebody who knows what they're doing. Wind, season of year, topography can all change the situation. If a tree has lost limbs, its center of gravity is probably askew, and it may fall in a direction you did not anticipate.

You cannot outrun a falling tree. You have to outthink it. Get help.
posted by sacre_bleu at 7:32 AM on January 17, 2005

Don't ask two questions at one time.
posted by rushmc at 9:28 AM on January 17, 2005

FidelDonson, you have been given a lot of good advice about how to cut down a tree (and also not to sneak in a second question).
Have you reviewed your reasons for harvesting the tree? I assume it is your tree and on properrty you own; if not, you could be in trouble almost as big as having the tree fall the wrong way.
I have no idea if there are covenants in Copenhagen, but we had to get a license from the county to remove trees on our property that were threatening our house.
posted by Cranberry at 3:57 PM on January 17, 2005

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