More than 20 years ago, my dear wife gave me a chainsaw for Christmas. That was a cool gift.
I got a lot of good use out of it. I even managed not to hurt myself or anyone else with it.
A couple of years ago, it quit running and I decided to let it rest in peace. The poor thing is obsolete now. It doesn’t have a chain brake, which is now a standard safety requirement. It is sitting in my storage bin and I have been wondering what to do with it.
So I checked with a saw and mower shop. They suggested taking it to the “Transfer Station.” In other words, it is junk.
So I called Napa Recycling and Waste Services. They told me I can drain out any residual gas and oil and turn it in for scrap at the yard waste recycling facility, no charge.
What a fitting end for something that generated so much green waste.
In the meantime, I have been collecting hand-powered pruning tools. The efficiency and pleasure of using sharp pruning tools, and the right tool for the job, has been a revelation.
Most awesome is a folding saw with a 24-inch handle, 20-inch blade and big, sharp, tri-edge teeth. I found it can remove a 6-inch diameter hardwood limb with just a few long, easy strokes. No gas, oil, smoke, or noise, just the pleasant sound of the blade making shavings. It stows in a fabric sheath, giving the impression of a well-crafted samurai sword.
My telescoping pole saw is another favorite. Collapsed, it is about 4 1/2 feet long, short enough to stow in the cab of my pickup. Fully extended, the handle is 10 feet long, giving me an effective 15-foot reach.
For extra reach to cut small branches, up to about 3/4-inch diameter depending on the tree species, I enjoy using long-reach pruners (LRPs). I have one with a 4-foot handle and another that is 6 feet long. These can be used one-handed like a pair of hand pruners, but with a built in swivel that helps you get well-angled pruning cuts.
All of these allow the pruner to get a lot of work done standing safely on the ground.
Those who like to get close to their work to make accurate cuts find three-legged orchard ladders indispensable. The support leg provides stability, especially on sloping terrain, and the ability to set up good position.
Now that we are in the fruit tree-pruning season, and folks are bringing out the pruning tools and ladders, here are a few tips on safety.
— Always take a good position for the cut. Overreaching in any direction can throw you off balance or result in a poorly angled or torn pruning cut.
— Anticipate and plan the fall of the branch you are about to cut.
— When in doubt, cut a smaller piece. It is tempting to hurry the work and avoid extra effort. In many cases, it is safer to remove long, tall, or heavy branches in several small pieces.
— Use the correct tool for each cut. Don’t strain your hands and wrists using hand-pruners. If the branch is a little too large in diameter, or too hard to cut, holster the hand pruners and use a small pruning saw.
— Do not use a two-hand saw or a chainsaw from a ladder.
— When using a ladder, test its position before ascending. A poorly positioned ladder leg, a slight slope, soft soil, or a slick surface under the leg can lead to a nasty surprise.
— When climbing and working on a ladder, always maintain 3-point contact: two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand.
For a horrifying, instructive good time, go online and check out “Idiots with Chainsaws..”
Be safe out there.