Whether sifting through sand, or scrambling over a rocky shore, it's about finding treasures in every day. 

Logging in Alaska; Falling a Big Spruce

Adding bar oil to the chainsaw.

Jeremy fueled and oiled his chainsaw, and then cut brush away from around the spruce tree that he would be falling next. The spruce was a fair sized tree, so he had carefully felled other trees to create a good fall path for the big spruce. Falling a tree over a stump or a rock can break it and make it worthless.

Straight grained, old growth spruce is very valuable. It has a high strength-to-weight ratio and long fibers making it ideal for sailboat masts, airplane wing spars, and wind turbine blades. Spruce is also famous for being 'music wood.' Very large, very straight spruce is highly sought after for piano sound boards and for making guitars and violins.

The tree Jeremy is just about to cut may or may not be a music wood tree, but it is a nice stick, and he is going to take care that it hits the ground in one piece.

Starting the notch and sighting the fall path of the tree.

Cutting the notch. Click to enlarge.

Pushing up to make the bottom cut of the notch.

This tree is just right of center. You can see the notch and Jeremy. Photo credit: My Guy

Cropped image to show you detail of the previous photo.

That Stihl MS 660 chainsaw weighs just over twenty pounds with the bar, fuel, and oil. That is a far cry better than the 125 pound, two-man Titan chainsaw that my grandfather used, but the new Stihl can still get pretty heavy in the afternoon.

The photo of the timber stand shows the tree with the notch cut out, and gives you a little perspective on the height of the tree.


Starting the back cut.

Extending the back cut.

Stepping clear of the tree.

Click to enlarge - really.

The white cloud is snow coming off of the branches. Check the stuff flying up from the butt of the log!


About the time this tree hit the ground I realized that my heart was pounding! I had picked out a nice stout tree to jump behind if things didn't go quite right, but I was mesmerized by the sound, the power, and didn't move anything but my finger on the camera shutter button.

Jeremy? He calmly walked over to make a straight cut across the butt of the log.

Then he clipped the tape measure onto the end, hopped up on the log, measured out 36 feet, and bucked the log. Twice. It was 72 feet to the first branches.

Flipping the tape measure loose with a flick of the wrist.

My sweetheart and I watched Jeremy work for a few hours, and were impressed by his professionalism, and by his humility.  He works in a very dangerous and physically demanding profession; moving gracefully, never wasting a motion, and making it look easy. He answered our questions with a courteous smile, only asking of us that we stay back in the safe zone.

A big thanks to Jeremy, for letting us see a little bit of what he does for work.

Alaska Beachcomber

Nothing in this post is intended as instruction or in any way suggests methods for cutting trees. It is dangerous work, best left to professionals.

Related post: Logging Mental Health Land in Southeast Alaska