Chainsaw Workshop in Starksboro Kicks off Fall Slate of Classes

Al Sands (bottom right) teaches a Chainsaw Operations workshop in Starksboro. The afternoon demonstration portion followed a morning classroom portion that focused on safety and maintenance.

Vermont Local Roads kicked off its fall slate of workshop in Starksboro yesterday with an equipment class covering chainsaw operation. Instructor Al Sands, of Northeast Woodland Training based inSouthern Vermont, gave a comprehensive overview of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and chainsaw maintenance in the morning before demonstrating the game of logging cutting technique to attendees in the afternoon.

 Al shared with class attendees some of his experiences from his thirty-plus years of operating a saw. “You have to discipline yourself,” Al said to the group during the morning session while discussing PPE. He stressed always wearing all of the proper PPE, since an accident can happen at any time, even if it’s just making one cut. Having a first aid kit always on hand and planning for an accident can save your life. If someone hits an artery while operating the saw they could only have three minutes to take action before he/she would be dead, Al said. It’s important to have the first-aid materials on hand and know how to use in the event of an accident. In addition, Al said always let someone know where you are going to cut and when you expect to be home, give someone a time to call you after if you have not returned. Look for a video of Al’s PPE discussion on our YouTube Channel soon.

The afternoon was spent in the woods behind the Starksboro town garage as the group watched Al cut a few trees and make a number of cuts that are useful methods to utilize when clearing roadways of downed trees. He provided an overview of the game of logging technique, brought to this country from Swedenby Soren Eriksson, to the group and how it differed from the old school cutting approach. An emphasis was placed on first identifying the tree, it’s lean, upper branches touching nearby trees, creating a plan to cut the tree and identifying an escape route. Using Soren’s approach Al cut the trees by creating a hinge- first making an angle cut, then a horizontal cut. He did not fully complete the horizontal cut, the remaining cut served as the “trigger,” to drop the tree. Before finishing the cut and engaging the trigger Al surveyed his escape route (a 45 degree angle away from where he anticipated the tree to fall) to make sure it was clear. Then he released the trigger to complete the cut and drop the tree. Below is a video clip of Al releasing the trigger.


In addition, Al demonstrated how wedges can be utilized to change the direction where a tree will fall. After watching the demonstrations a number of workshop attendees were eager to try out the methods and different cuts the next time they worked with a saw.

A second Chainsaw Operations workshop is taking place today in Winhall. Local Roads’ fall workshops continue next week with classes on Winter Road Maintenance.

About vtlocalroads

The Vermont Local Roads Program at Saint Michael’s College is part of the Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP), a nationwide effort financed jointly by the Federal Highway Administration and individual State Departments of Transportation. Its purpose is to provide road and bridge know-how to municipal people involved with highways. There are LTAP Centers in 50 states and Puerto Rico and six Native American locations. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations presented on this page are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of FHWA, VAOT or Saint Michael’s College. All references to proprietary items in this publication are not endorsements of any company or products. Sponsored by the Vermont Agency of Transportation, the Vermont Local Roads Program provides information, training and technical assistance to cities, towns and villages in Vermont. This is done by newsletters, seminars and workshops, distribution of publications and by response to requests.
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