Wednesday 19 November 2008

Chainsaw Choices

Professional chainsaw users know just how dangerous these valuable tools can be. Unfortunately too many professionals have learned the hard way that any time you are close to a chainsaw you are at risk of injury. The typical chainsaw combines the brute strength of 3 horses with seventy five razor sharp knives. All this dangerous potential is literally in your hands when you pick up a chainsaw. Before you pick up a chainsaw you should make sure you have the right saw for the job.

First if your chainsaw is older it may lack any of the modern safety features like inertia chain breaks, hand guards and a host of other improvements. Drain the fuel and oil and donate it to your local museum. NEVER use older style chainsaws.

Home owner saws that you buy from the local mega mart may no meet the strict safety standards required by professional users. Why should you put yourself at risk?

A common and potentially deadly event when using a chainsaw is kickback, Kickback occurs when the upper portion of the tip of the chainsaw comes in contact with an object. The teeth on the tip of the bar stop abruptly and direct all of their energy back into the chainsaw. This results in it rapidly and uncontrollably spinning in an upward arc towards the user. Modern chainsaws have safety features like inertia chain breaks, to reduce the chance of injury from kickback.

Professional chainsaws come in two basic styles and a myriad of sizes. Saws are broken down into top handle and rear handle styles. As the name suggests top handle saws have the rear handle moved to the top of the saw to allow easier range of motion while climbing in the tree with the saw. If you are not climbing in the tree do not use this saw.
Even if you have come down from the tree, switch to a rear handle saw to cut up branches on the

Rear handle saws, with their trigger handle in a much safer position at the rear of the saw, direct kick back energy up and away from the user. When kick back occurs a top handle saw will rotate your wrist and hit you in the head or chest. The operative work is WHEN kick back occurs, not IF.

The largest chainsaw available may be good for your ego but it will not be good for your safety in the long run. A small to mid sized professional chainsaw will provide years of trouble free safer operation. If you really think about what you are cutting a small sharp chainsaw with a 15 to 17 inch bar will do 99% of your work. Typically these saws are in the 50 to 60cc size range. Most users should not use a top handle saw.

A chainsaw safety training class should be mandatory for chainsaw purchase. I doubt it ever will be mandatory for the home owner. Industry has been forced to provide training through legislation and increasing workers compensation costs. If you use a chainsaw you should make it your mission to get at least the basic safety training. Your life literally depends upon it.

Monday 3 November 2008

For What it's Worth

Trees have inherent value because of the useful goods and services they provide. A stack of 2x4's fours ready to turn into a new family room or that storage area you have been wanting can be taken to the till and paid for at your local lumber mart. Calculating the value of that lumber is easy! Calculating the value of a living tree is much trickier.

When you move to the services trees provide, shelter, shade, erosion control, wind, noise and pollution reduction these too can be calculated. Formulas have been developed over time to calculate these values per tree or for whole forests.

What happens when you wake up one morning and the construction crew working on the house next door is in the process of chipping up your favorite tree? Unfortunately these kinds of situations do occur and all to often they end up in litigation.

Fortunately there are arborists who specialize in this kind of tree valuation. These consulting arborists regularly deal with situations on landscapes that require accurate and verifiable appraisals of trees and groups of trees. Just as you would go to a specialist if you had a serious

medical condition, you would be well advised to go to a reputable consulting arborist if you ever find yourself in a potential legal situation involving trees.

The basic premise in calculating the value of a tree is that in most cases the landscape contributes 10% to 15% to the total value of your property. In special cases this may be slightly more or slightly less. It is not enough to take ten percent of value of your property and divide that by the number of trees and come up with a value for one tree. Doing this does not take into consideration a number of factors that effect tree value.

Consulting arborists use several formulas that allow for an accurate assessment of the value of a tree or trees. The arborist typically uses the value of the largest readily available replacement tree of the same species to start their evaluation. Next the diameter of this replacement tree and its value is used to extrapolate the value of the existing tree. Working from a chart of tree values, determined by groups of experts, a species percentage is assigned to each tree. Typically an oak will have a value of 100%. This is partly related to its value and longevity in the landscape and possibly the fact that even in colonial times oaks were highly valued. Oaks were considered the property of the king. A less desirable tree, like a box elder may only get a species rating of 50%. Trees are given species percentage values based on their attributes and loose percentage points if they have inherent problems that detract from their value in the landscape. Messy fruit, excessive branch drop, short lifespan, predisposition to rot or failure are all value detractors. Location on the landscape is then used as a weighting factor to further refine the value of the tree. The condition of the tree is then included in the calculation to take into account the physical shape and health of the tree. After a few more calculations a number is arrived at for the value of that tree. This value must than be proofed against the value of the home and the overall value of the landscape. This process continues until the consulting arborist is certain that he has a figure that will stand up in court if necessary.

If you have followed this article to this point it will be apparent that a certain degree of specialization is necessary to perform these valuations. Most arborists are able to refer you to a qualified consulting arborist if you ever have the misfortune to be in need of their services. In the end the value you put on your trees may be very personal and relate to moments in your life enjoyed under them.