Project Leader: Drew Foreman Project Dates: May 17,2010 - November 15,2010 Email Address: Aforeman@thesca.org
The Ramsey’s Draft team is set to become a band of regular lumberjacks. The place is littered with downed trees. All of which seemed to sacrifice themselves across the main trail in a last ditched effort to keep us away. The photos of what lies ahead are ominous to say the least. Trees that you couldn’t wrap your arms around one after another like track hurdles. Might as well have plopped the Spanish armada down in front of us.
Our job this summer would be no easy task even with a supercharged Stihl and a car eating dinosaur at our disposal. Unfortunately the use of both car eating dinosaurs and chainsaws are strictly prohibited in the wilderness so as to minimize the impact of man and keep things the way that they should be. Fair enough, Looks like we will have to kick it old school. When men (or women) were men (or women). Time to master the lost art of the crosscut saw.
The fine folks at the Forrest Service provided us with three days to learn how to properly use one of these bad boys and pick the brains of the experts. It was by far the most anticipated portion of our SCA training. The restlessness of the previous night was comparable only to Christmas eve 94’ on the brink of a new Huffy.
The first day was in the classroom. We went over everything. Safety. The anatomy of the crosscut saw. Different styles of saws and their uses. Different types of tooth patterns, all the types of handles and how they work. Safety. Then there was saw maintenance. How to sheath your saw. How to carry it properly. How to store and transport it. Safety. We went over bucking techniques. The four bind brothers (top, bottom, side and end). Went over some limbing techniques. Safety. We learned how to swing an axe without swinging it into your shin. There were also a few videos on what to do and what not to do when bucking and felling. And a lot, lot more. Other highlights include me getting stung in the forehead by a hornet and a delicious cake courtesy of Mrs. Irvine.
Day two was bucking. Finally got to go out in the field and cut stuff. We started with axes. Limbed a few downed trees and chopped up the log. The rest of the day we played with the saws. Experimenting with the four bind brothers and how to mitigate them. Learned how and when the wedges come in handy. Encounterd a hive of ground bees that were not stoked on us cutting on their log. Everyone made it out unstung. Exausted, we called it a day.
Day three was felling a certification day. First we went over some felling techniques. My instructor “Slick” demonstrated how use your axe handle as a plumb bob in determining which way the tree wants to fall. He also showed us a trick using a stick to figure out how far away the tree will land. The Slick stick trick if you will. I was skeptical, but I’ll be a monkeys uncle if that tree did not land exactly where we thought it would. Then we went over face cuts and “Gunning” your cut in order to aim where it will fall. Finally it was time to apply what we learned and cut down our own tree under the eyes of Slick and his clipboard for our certification.
Trust me. You haven’t lived until you have brought down a tree the old fashioned way. It is quite rewarding. The whole crosscut certification experience turned more into a lesson on ourselves and what we are capable of than a lesson on cutting down trees. I was honored to participate. Big thanks to Warren, John, and “Slick” for letting us tap into their wealth of knowledge. The Ramseys Draft team is set to become a band of regular lumberjacks. Not even the Spanish Armada can stop us.