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Tips for how to dig your dogs in and make humboldts like you PNW guys.

bumstead27

bumstead27

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TLDR: Want to make humboldts by digging dawgs in on close corner and then rotating saw upwards to meet far corner. Seen a BC DTF doing it, I have been practicing have been really hit or miss. Never had instruction at it. Looking for tips.

Hey guys Northern Ontario Resident here. Just someone who learnt a lot of bad habits as a kid (4"-6" high steps, not caring about dutchmans, staying on stumps, no escape routes) just what I was taught by my old man. Over the last 4 years I have been more formally educated and have successfully broken all of these habits though I still have a lot to learn I know.

I do a lot of cutting at work as I'm the designated feller on my fire crew and am often called off my crew on project fires and given a swamper to go create helipads for more incoming crews. I absolutely love it. Still cut a lot at the family camp and slowly try to teach my stubborn father some safer techniques.

Anyways I was taught the conventional facecut and only had heard about the humboldt cut but never used it or shown it. I started using it often while creating helipads when I did not want to walk around to the other side of the tree. In my mind conventional cuts were made standing on the right side of the tree and humboldts on the left. I only ever used the top angled grip on sloped cuts never the bottom angled grip if that makes sense.

I thought that this was the normal proper and only way to do a humboldt cut but a few years ago I was working a fire out in BC and was lucky enough to swamp for a DTF who used to do old growth heli logging on the coast. It was a great experience and I learnt a lot just walking around the bush with him for the day watching him cut. I noticed that he performed his humboldt from the right side of the tree. The weirdest thing was how he effortlessly matched the corner closest to him up, then dug his dawgs in and rotated the saw. Every time the far corner matched up and the wedge slid out effortlessly.

I have been practicing this method but I am really hit or miss. I either nail it and it comes out perfectly or I miss it by a mile!! What are some key points to get this to work? Do I need to focus on getting the dawgs in early and making sure they don't move?
 
madhatte

madhatte

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Forester/wildland firefighter here, not a logger. What works for me is to rotate down from the gunning cut, then peek around the front about halfway through to see if it's gonna match. You can just hang the saw on the dawgs, it's not gonna fall. If it isn't gonna match, it's easy at this point to fix it by just rotating the bar and starting again. Once you pop the face out, either with the dawgs or an axe, look back across the inside of the face from where you were standing. If there's any mess, it's super easy to clean up the face by looking down the bar like sighting down a rifle as you cut. Using the back of the bar pushes the chips away from your face so you can see. Once the face is done, pull the bar out, swing it around and begin the back cut from the same standing position. It's easiest to keep things level if you do it all from the same place instead of moving around.
 
catbuster

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When you finish your gunning cut, keep your dawgs pretty well in the same spot as where they were when making the gunning cut. From there, rotate on the dawgs where the tip of your bar is pointing down some, start your cut and don’t get out of it until it’s established. They should line up pretty well. Dig your dawgs in and see if your bar tip lines up. If they don’t, the saw probably got moved.

If the tree is real big, start your cut the same way, establish your cut, wedge the part you have cut, flip the saw around to where the powerhead of the saw is towards the ground and put the bar in the cut you’ve established to finish it out.

Always make sure your cut is cleaned out in front of the hinge. How you go about it is up to you, but it should be clean around your hinge.

I like Humboldts for most felling. Conventional faces work pretty well when the butt needs to stay on the stump longer. It’s up to you, but I have always preferred getting the butt pushed away from me and the tree off the stump away from me with the Humboldt vs keeping the tree on the stump longer, the top hitting first and the tree maybe jumping back over the step in the stump and at me. I’ve also usually done my flat/bottom cut first as my gunning cut on a conventional face along with a shallower angle, just my preference. The open face, some people call it a pie cut... It’s not for me. I mean, I see some advantages, but it’s just not something I’ve ever put into practice.
 
chipper1

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Welcome to AS bumstead.
Great question that I'm sure many have wondered about, I know I have.
I have no advice for you, you probably cut way more than I do.
I don't use a Humboldt often, when I do it's not on very large trees and I get lucky and they seem to line up most times I usually just need to make my gunning cut a bit deeper after I pop the face out, I'm alright with that since I'm not under the gun for time.
 
bumstead27

bumstead27

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@madhatte
When you say rotate down from the gunning cut are you saying that the dogs are still in the wood a little and you are pivoting the saw downwards with the dogs dug in almost like that tool people plot courses with on a map?

Sorry I'm asking the most tedious details, just trying to figure things out here so I can hopefully pinpoint what it is I am doing right when I nail it and what I'm doing wrong when I don't. Currently it seems like fluke to me when i get this technique to work

Ya I always clean out my face cut I'm just looking for tips to make the cut in this very specific way I know kinda strange just I really want to learn it.
 
bumstead27

bumstead27

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@catbuster

Okay thanks a lot for the tip I will definitely try it out when I get a chance. Keeping the dogs in the same spot is a new one I haven't tried yet.

Currently my method has kinda been to eyeball it with the toe pointed downwards try to get the bar to meet up with the corner closest to me (I get this part successfully 99% of the time) as soon as I get the corners to match I dig the dogs in and rotate up to meet the other corner. Sometimes I hit sometimes I don't.

I like your suggestion on keeping the dogs in the whole time right from the gunning cut, I didn't think that would make sense but when I think about it I can kind of see that it may just work out.

Do you use the bottom of your bar for this as well?

Luckily (perhaps unluckily) I don't come across any trees that I can't get right through with my 28" bar. I don't really understand how this part works but I have seen some videos other people doing this as your saying, Powerhead near the ground. I don't understand how they get the cut to be near clean after that. Maybe someday I'll have to learn but currently I'm not in the big boy forest. Though it would be a nice skill to have at work when I'm cutting into the big trees with our 18" bar.


Ya I'm with you on what you say about the humboldt versus conventional, I had a big poplar jump back off a stump when it was almost on the ground on me last year that really scared me. Luckily I was already on my escape route a good ways from the tree but it really made me stop and realize that I need to be especially careful when I am near the end of the day and getting tired. Gotta continue to assess every tree properly and not just assume business as usual. Looking back I can see what I did wrong and what factors led to the complacency that caused it but it bothered me for a long time. After that I really started to experiment with humboldts and studying how they come off the stump for me. The poplar incident had nothing to do with the kind of facecut I made but it was food for thought I got me thinking I wanted every butt to get pushed away from the stump hence my interest in this new method.

Conventional is still usually my go to for logs I intend to mill. I don't mind the non square butt. It gives me some extra board feet on 1/3 of the tree.

Birds face I did once to show I could on my exam and that was the end of it. Same thing with a couple other weird cuts that I think just increase the likely hood of mistake with no real benefits compared to other cuts that can accomplish the same thing
 
bumstead27

bumstead27

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@chipper 1

Hey thanks for chiming in. I'm sure you could teach me how to quote people on mobile haha. And there's always something for me to learn.

I am also not doing much cutting currently as the fire season is over and instead of being at camp doing personal work I am stuck working for an arborist company. I signed on hoping to get climbing experience but instead we are endlessly cleaning up storm damage from a big snow storm. All we do is use bucket trucks and essentially prune snapped/hanging branches with a 201T. Boring and mind numbing as hell

Nice you get them to line up most the time? Do you perform your humboldts with the bar flat to the ground the duration of the cut or rotating up as I described in my initial post?

I have great success keeping my saw level so that it will meet up with both corners at the same time but I am trying to get away from this method. When I do high volume cutting such as a helipad for a medium helicopter (bell 212,205,412) deep inside the green I am exhausted using this method as I am manhandling the saw up through the cut the whole way without any help from the dogs. I don't feel it at the time cause I am young and dumb but I have some pre-existing elbow injuries from hockey that really flare up and I notice it the next day.

This season I had a helipad and sling pad that burnt roughly 7 litres of gas in my 550xp, This is a saw that sips gas pretty lightly I was shocked. I can burn roughly 5 litres of fuel quickly when cutting light brush on a fireline cause when I'm in alders I'm basically on WOT all the time cause I'm essentially just using the saw as a lawn mower in the thick parts trying to stay ahead of the nozzle operator. I burn gas way slower when actually felling cause the throttle is much more varied.

I really felt my elbow bad the next day could hardly bend it all the way.
 
chipper1

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@chipper 1

Hey thanks for chiming in. I'm sure you could teach me how to quote people on mobile haha. And there's always something for me to learn.

I am also not doing much cutting currently as the fire season is over and instead of being at camp doing personal work I am stuck working for an arborist company. I signed on hoping to get climbing experience but instead we are endlessly cleaning up storm damage from a big snow storm. All we do is use bucket trucks and essentially prune snapped/hanging branches with a 201T. Boring and mind numbing as hell

Nice you get them to line up most the time? Do you perform your humboldts with the bar flat to the ground the duration of the cut or rotating up as I described in my initial post?

I have great success keeping my saw level so that it will meet up with both corners at the same time but I am trying to get away from this method. When I do high volume cutting such as a helipad for a medium helicopter (bell 212,205,412) deep inside the green I am exhausted using this method as I am manhandling the saw up through the cut the whole way without any help from the dogs. I don't feel it at the time cause I am young and dumb but I have some pre-existing elbow injuries from hockey that really flare up and I notice it the next day.

This season I had a helipad and sling pad that burnt roughly 7 litres of gas in my 550xp, This is a saw that sips gas pretty lightly I was shocked. I can burn roughly 5 litres of fuel quickly when cutting light brush on a fireline cause when I'm in alders I'm basically on WOT all the time cause I'm essentially just using the saw as a lawn mower in the thick parts trying to stay ahead of the nozzle operator. I burn gas way slower when actually felling cause the throttle is much more varied.

I really felt my elbow bad the next day could hardly bend it all the way.
That's funny.
Just hit the reply button on the lower right of the post you want to quote. You can use the quote button and reply to multiple posts by different or the same people in one post. Just give it a try, the nice thing about it is you can edit it or delete it if it doesn't work right, it's not like a failed attempt swinging a tree thru a tight spot lol.
I've done it both ways, depending on the conditions and where I'm positioned at. Another big factor has been wrap handle or not as I don't always have one with me. If I need to be on the right side and I'm cutting low with a saw that has small dogs like on your 550 I'll make a flat gunning cut then bore in just below it and cut down thru then clean it out. Be clear you've done a lot more cutting than me, just as you though I'm always wanting to learn, you never know what you'll need in your tool bag or when you'll need it. That said I practice methods I'm not familiar with as often as possible.
I like your suggestion on keeping the dogs in the whole time right from the gunning cut, I didn't think that would make sense but when I think about it I can kind of see that it may just work out.
This does work if you have the proper dogs to do it, if not you are back to other methods. I have some saws set up with large dogs, but as I was saying I don't always have them or my wraps with me. I don't typically need to use a Humboldt so I simple use another method. The last time I used one I cut a dutchmen and swung a storm damaged black locust here at the house over 100 degrees. Much easier to do with a Humboldt than a conventional cut and I didn't need to shoot a line to help pull it over or beat wedges.
I mainly do residential trees so much of what I do is with ropes and the skidding wench, deep inside the green for me means I'm 100 yards from my house or a couple hundred ft in the backyard of a client lol.
 
madhatte

madhatte

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@madhatte
When you say rotate down from the gunning cut are you saying that the dogs are still in the wood a little and you are pivoting the saw downwards with the dogs dug in almost like that tool people plot courses with on a map?
Hard to explain, easy to demonstrate. When you have double dawgs, the bottom or outer one is a more useful pivot point than the top or inner one. Rotate on that. It will want rotating on three planes. Imagine it's an airplane, and the nose of the bar is the nose of the airplane. The nose wants to go down (pitch), and the wings do too (roll). Most or all of your corrections, then, will be in the tail (yaw). Draw it a couple of times, it'll make sense.
 
bumstead27

bumstead27

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That's funny.
Just hit the reply button on the lower right of the post you want to quote. You can use the quote button and reply to multiple posts by different or the same people in one post. Just give it a try, the nice thing about it is you can edit it or delete it if it doesn't work right, it's not like a failed attempt swinging a tree thru a tight spot lol.
I've done it both ways, depending on the conditions and where I'm positioned at. Another big factor has been wrap handle or not as I don't always have one with me. If I need to be on the right side and I'm cutting low with a saw that has small dogs like on your 550 I'll make a flat gunning cut then bore in just below it and cut down thru then clean it out. Be clear you've done a lot more cutting than me, just as you though I'm always wanting to learn, you never know what you'll need in your tool bag or when you'll need it. That said I practice methods I'm not familiar with as often as possible.

This does work if you have the proper dogs to do it, if not you are back to other methods. I have some saws set up with large dogs, but as I was saying I don't always have them or my wraps with me. I don't typically need to use a Humboldt so I simple use another method. The last time I used one I cut a dutchmen and swung a storm damaged black locust here at the house over 100 degrees. Much easier to do with a Humboldt than a conventional cut and I didn't need to shoot a line to help pull it over or beat wedges.
I mainly do residential trees so much of what I do is with ropes and the skidding wench, deep inside the green for me means I'm 100 yards from my house or a couple hundred ft in the backyard of a client lol.
Ya I don't have a wrap handle but have considered getting one. The 550 is my work provided chainsaw not actually my own. It is assigned to me at the beginning of the season and it is mainly me who uses it but I am responsible for all of its maintence. I begrudgingly give it up to my crew leader when he's horny to get back on a saw. and I let those under me on my crew who are learning to cut use it from time to time as long as they promise not to ding any of my chains. I have found that these new computer controlled saws run like absolute **** when they are switching operators. I never have a problem with starting it but I give it someone else they can't get it going then it is always stalling on them. If I let them use it too long say a couple tanks of gas then I have troubles using it for a few tanks when I get it back. We don't have this problem with our older 254 and 359's.

My personal saw is a 461 usually sporting a 28"light bar (balance is absolutely amazing). I have double felling dogs from my 066 mounted on it. (066 never has a use for them as it is almost always permanently mounted on the mill) sometimes I throw an 18" bar on it when I want it to be a lightsaber and I'm bucking up firewood.

At the end of every fire season I love to put the 18 inch bar on my 461 and go burry it in a big poplar or jack pine. My poor 550 that I'm so used to at work would bog down if I apply too much pressure but cut away happily if left alone at a kinda slow rate. I do love how light it is though. carrying it and a Jerry a couple km's up the line to take down a danger tree is no sweat. I take my 461 out and bore into a big tree to remind myself why I'm carrying the extra weight. She just sings along happily even at 3/4 throttle the power is addicting. And for what I do I don't need anything more (though I have mounted the 660 for shits and giggles on the 18)

Are you an arborist? If so did you also learn to cut as one? I just started working for a company and we have a couple greenhorns that they are giving saw time to. We maybe fell one tree every 2 days the green guys who have no prior saw experience need to learn to cut somehow so from time to time if they show good enough competence limbing and pruning in the bucket they let them fell a stem. Only if it's an easy low risk one though which doesn't happen often. They don't have much opportunity to learn and they have so much time between opportunities they forget everything it's a wonder they ever learn how to cut. Whereas in forestry we can take city kids into the woods and find dozens of trees within their skill level and get them to cut all day for a week straight they can learn a lot in a short period.

I was really excited to work for a tree company to see rigging, climbing and expertly sized notches to ensure that the branches land flat on the ground as not to divot people's yards. Unfortunately my company doesn't care about that stuff and we are using buckets every day and they all laugh when they leave a crater in a clients yard :(....

Haha ya sorry I guess deep in the green should have been clearer. We say green and black. Black being burn, green being not burnt. In this context deep in the green is near the fire but in the green and well away from any lake shore swamp or nice open area. So lots and lots of big timber to drop to open it up for a helicopter. We usually build helipads on IA (when you're hover exiting and the helicopter is waiting) in areas requiring minimal cutting and time. Sometimes on bigger fires though we will build pads on higher dry ground if the pad will be used a lot. This requires a lot of cutting. On the fire I was referring to the line was insanely long so I cut a block in the middle of the green to allow people to be flipped in father up the line daily it was an insane amount of cutting. Sometimes I'll be told to cut in the black as it is already thinned from the fire and needs less work but I hate it. The burnt trees dull my chains fast, I get needles down my shirt, it's terribly sooty when a helicopter touches down and it's downright terrifying cause all the trees have weakened root systems and they fall down in the rotor wash. I only do it for medivacs or one time pickups now.
 
bumstead27

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Hard to explain, easy to demonstrate. When you have double dawgs, the bottom or outer one is a more useful pivot point than the top or inner one. Rotate on that. It will want rotating on three planes. Imagine it's an airplane, and the nose of the bar is the nose of the airplane. The nose wants to go down (pitch), and the wings do too (roll). Most or all of your corrections, then, will be in the tail (yaw). Draw it a couple of times, it'll make sense.
Tell me about it!!! I so badly want someone to just take a couple minutes and watch me attempt this and then demonstrate for me how to do it.

When you say bottom/outer dog that is a better pivot. Are you referring to the dog on the pull cord side of the saw or the dog on the chain/bar but side?
 
northmanlogging

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Establish gun cut

Place upper dog level or just below gun cut

Aim bar perpendicular to gun cut, or straight at target.

Using the dog as an anchor point drop tip of bar to desired face angle, while retaining perpindicularity to gun cut.

Mash throttle and let er eat.

Stop early to make sure your going to line up, better to not line up and chunk out or recut then to over cut and risk an inadvertent swing.

This method works good on taller stumps. Or downhill side, but is exceptional at learning the right angles to hold your saw, as it's pretty easy to make look easy, and if you run clutch side down can still get a low stump without eating to many rocks.
 
Westboastfaller

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Tips? Maybe not do it that way
Set angle cut from the front and then stick the dog to the corner. It's just like filing, not every position is right for everyone.
Besides, you can file more aggressively with a smaller saw by 'breaking the skin first. Works for me.
 
TheDarkLordChinChin

TheDarkLordChinChin

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We never see humboldts here in Europe but its a technique I like because it makes me feel more of a man after seeing guys use it on big trees in the PNW on youtube lol.
Try using the back of the bar to make your second cut sometimes. It can give you a bit of perspective as to what you are doing wrong as doing it this way feels more natural because you can stand up straighter.
 
catbuster

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Try using the back of the bar to make your second cut sometimes. It can give you a bit of perspective as to what you are doing wrong as doing it this way feels more natural because you can stand up straighter.
Do you mean using the back of the bar to do the bottom of the face? If so, mind if I ask why?

I hate cutting with the back of the bar unless I’m coming up under a log bucking, when I don’t have another option, or limbing/bumping knots. I’m not much on the saws with bigger bars pushing against me, and I don’t feel like I have a better feel for anything. If I want to stand up I can use the bottom of the bar by flipping the saw to the other side of the 3/4 or full wrap and then stand any way I want. Not to mention that I really don’t want a kickback injury if the back of that bar pushes out and catches the nose when I’m a long way from help in a block or working a line somewhere.

That’s just my two cents.
 
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