Picking Up and Slabbing a Walnut Tree

I recently built a log lift for my trailer and had the opportunity to try it out by picking up a walnut log.  This log wasn’t very big at 18″ in diameter (approx 1000lbs) but was a good first test of the lift’s abilities and showed me it’s weak point.

Video Transcript

This is Dema’s friend Alex. He was hired to remove this walnut tree. Since part of the removal includes disposal of the tree, Alex asked if we wanted it. This offer came at a perfect time as it would be a good test for the log lift that I recently built for my trailer. Alex was trying to get the tree to fall into the open lawn but it ended up wanting to go the other way so we had to pull it over with the rope. After a lot of pulling and tightening up the rope, it finally came over. We helped Alex load the brush onto his trailer and then we could start loading the trunk. We rolled it back up the hill a bit so the approach angle would be more direct since I couldn’t get my trailer more in line with the log. The first part of the lift went well and we positioned some smaller logs underneath to help protect the lawn. Keep an eye on the arch’s left mount. This is when it starts to fail. As I discovered later, the bottom of the mount was only tacked to the trailer. That was the only thing keeping it from lifting up. With no attachment point on the bottom, the rest of the mount was free to shear away. With the log up on the trailer, the homeowner requested that we cut the log into shorter lengths to make it more manageable. Back up the hill again. We positioned the log on the right side to hopefully put most of the force on the other mount. The only thing holding the left mount to the trailer at this point was the bead along the top. This went really well and with the front of the log on the trailer, I could just winch it the rest of the way. Dema and I then threw the smaller logs on the trailer and we were off.

Normally to unload logs, I just chain the log to this tree and drive off. This time I wanted to mill the tree so it was up on the back of the trailer, so I thought I’d try something a little more controlled. The log ended up wedging itself into the edge of my lawn so I did have to try the old pull forward method. I attached my ladder and started cutting and wow was this so much easier with gravity working with me. My parents were visiting this weekend so my dad was out helping me with this. Chainsaw milling is easier with two people and with the added gravity push, this was the easiest log I’ve ever cut. With that first cut made, I can start with the repetitive slabbing cuts. I have my mill set to 2 1/8″ and these cuts took about 4-5 minutes, each. This smaller log I milled right on the bed of the trailer which made for easy cleanup. I was really excited to see how this 3 way crotch would look. I’m cutting these to the same thickness and each cut on this log took about 1.5 minutes to 2 min. And lastly, we stacked them to dry. I used 2 concrete blocks for this log since it easier to get 2 blocks leveled than a bunch of them. We set down the first slab and I adjust the blocks until the slab it laying flat on the first sticker. I can do some coarse adjustments by packing dirt under the blocks and then I can use some shims to take out the remaining twist. Then we can just stack them in the sequence they were cut and to save some space, we stacked the smaller log on top of the larger one.

I’ve been working on a new mount for the arch since then. Here’s a quick preview of it.

I am almost done with the left side and then I’ll remove and replace the right side as well. Here’s a look at the right side so you can get an idea of how the original mounts were attached to the trailer. There will be more info on the new mounts, building the arch, and all the trailer modification in future videos.  Please let me know if you have any questions and until next time, Happy Woodworking.

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6 Responses

  1. Matt,
    I enjoy your videos. I have recently come across you via viewing other sites. I am glad I did. I have had an interest in milling my own lumber for a while now. We just had a significant ice storm here in central OK and I have a good opportunity to get a couple of big Pecan logs.

    What is the minimum size ( cc engine size) chain saw you recommend for slabbing? Also, how do you determine the price you are willing to pay for logs? Do you estimate BF in a log and have standard price for different species?

    Bruce Gaylord

    1. Hi Bruce,
      Thank you!! I wouldn’t recommend going smaller than 60cc. Size is also going to be dependent on the size of the log you are cutting. A smaller saw will still cut it but can take drastically longer to do so. Price I’d pay for a log is going to be dependent on how much I really want the log (species, size, etc). I really wouldn’t spend more than $.50/bf on anything. There are log volume calculators you can use. I typically go by the Doyle log scale. I use this calculator quite a bit: http://www.woodweb.com/cgi-bin/calculators/calc.pl?calculator=log_volume

  2. Matt.
    I just love your sawmill and shop. Was wondering if you built your chainsaw mill and if so do you have specs. for it.
    If you did not build it could you tell me where you purchased it . Thank you for sharing your videos.

    Butch Bouchard

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