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I have many trees on my land that need to be cut down. I would like to know what suitable workflows there are for the whole process. Should I cut a tree down, cut it up into small pieces, and split the pieces to make firewood all in one step? Or should I cut many trees down and move them to a separate area to process the wood? I would like efficiency to be a high priority.

NOTE: Assume the following equipment - 5x8 trailer with winch, 18" chainsaw, sledge hammer, splitting axe. 10-15 trees. All are 50' or taller. They range from 10"-18" in diameter. I have all summer to do this. There will be at most 2-3 people working at a time.

closed as off-topic by Phil, Roflo, Russell Steen Mar 4 '16 at 16:50

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    Would this question be better suited to Gardening and Landscaping? gardening.stackexchange.com Or is it entirely too subjective anyway? – renesis Mar 4 '16 at 7:06
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's a gardening question. The 5x8 trailer, chainsaw and sledge are equipment that are not likely to be carried when out on a trip. – Phil Mar 4 '16 at 14:51
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    @renesis I certainly understand your point, but I feel it is on topic because it feels like a "lumberjack skills" question. In my own mind lumberjack skills are more in line with rugged traditional outdoorsman skills than domestic chores like gardening and landscaping. By domestic I mean "around the house" not some sideways slur against gardening and landscaping. Gardening and landscaping are real skills that often involve arduous labor. – Erik Mar 4 '16 at 15:37
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    For those that are interested there is now a meta question about this question. – Erik Mar 4 '16 at 17:37
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    I voted to reopen this question because it doesn't sound like any gardening or landscaping project I've seen. It sounds more like the first step in 19th century homesteading. When preparation for "landscaping" is done on this scale, it involves big machinery, not two or three guys with chainsaws. What does the access road look like? If it is unpaved, unimproved dirt with lots of rocks and ruts, it is definitely a TGO question! – ab2 Mar 6 '16 at 14:57
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For the purpose of my answer I'm going to assume there aren't any special considerations like a tall tree on a small lot.

In general I think this is the best procedure:

  1. Cut down one tree.
  2. Trim off all the branches.
  3. Build a big pile of small branches that aren't useful for firewood.

    a. Load this stuff into a trailer and dispose of it as appropriate when you have a full trailer worth.

    b. Alternatively you can run this stuff through a wood chipper and sell/use the chips.

  4. Cut the bigger branches into a length that will fit in your and/or your customer's fireplace comfortably.

  5. Cut the trunk into rounds the same length as the branches in step 4.
  6. Load the rounds/branches into the trailer once you have a trailer full.
  7. Stack the rounds at your house.
  8. Repeat the steps 1 through 7 until you've cut the amount of wood you need and/or you need to use some firewood.
  9. Split the rounds and put them into a different stack.
  10. Repeat the cycle as needed.

The main benefits of this plan are:

  • You don't risk leaving wood to rot on the ground because something comes up.
  • You can split wood in the evenings at home on days when you couldn't go out and cut down trees.
  • You have some shade while you're chopping up the tree into manageable bits.
  • You don't risk having too much wood at once.
  • The animals can still use the trees until you need them.
  • You don't overuse the same group of muscles. (Thanks ab2!)
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    Another plus: you don't overuse one set of muscles. – ab2 Mar 4 '16 at 0:22
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    also, before putting those in the fireplace, wait until they are dry. 1-2 year sheltered from the rain should do, depending on the humidity and the type of wood. – njzk2 Mar 4 '16 at 1:39
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    This is exactly the type of answer I was looking for. And it makes complete sense too. Thank you. – Programmer Mar 4 '16 at 14:18
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    @njzk2 interesting. In the United States, or at least where I grew up, wood is commonly sold in a unit called a cord. – Erik Mar 4 '16 at 19:19
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    @Erik: Fair enough. Where I'm from we have no skunks, no dangerous snakes and only very sporadic danger of forest fires. So cute critters all the way! :) – fgysin Mar 10 '16 at 7:22

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