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Tree Service Pros - Tree Service in Lincoln, Nebraska

Tree Rigging For Removal Part 3

by David Steg on 10/21/14

Carabiners. Oval, spring-loaded snap devices

that are common in rock-climbing and mountain

rescue work. They come in a range of sizes and

tensile strengths. They come in locking and nonlocking

configuration and carry ratings all the way

up to 15,000 pounds. They are handy for hanging

blocks, tools and sliding down a High-Lead.

Come-Along. Handy for adjusting tension on a

Speed-Line, or working as a hold-back on a leaning


Figure Eight Descender. Used in mountaineering

as a rappelling brake, we use them for holding

tension on a High-Lead and holding a tag line. You

can also use one to ride down a bull rope.

Ground Anchor. Rig a Speed-Line to a ground

anchor while on the job if nothing else is handy to

tie to.

Hand Saw. Don't leave home without it.

Mesh Eye Goggles. Helps to keep saw dust out

of your eyes. While you're at it, protect your head

(hard hat) and ears (muffs or plugs).

Throw Line. Handy for setting a tag line or bull

rope in places where wise men fear to tread.

Wedges, plastic, falling. These little plastic

devils are cheap insurance. They'll unstick your

saw and help to lever over a leaning trunk. When

tree falling, cut the bark away where you're going

to wedge. You'll maximize the advantage. Otherwise,

you'll crush a lot of bark and not gain much


Plywood. More cheap insurance. Use it to protect

windows, cars, plants, lawns, roofs. We've

even cribbed up over a flower bed. It saved a lot of


Tires. They make a really good mat for reducing

the impact of a falling tree trunk.

Old Car. The ultimate falling tree catcher. I met a

Euc Man from Michigan who makes a regular

practice of towing a junked car to his job site and

dropping a big elm on top of it. He gets a lot of

publicity and he says it works really well.


Doing things in the proper sequence can make

the difference between an "easy", efficient job

and a back-breaking, no fun, asslosing proposition.

In general, it's a good plan to:

A. Brush out the tree first. Be sure to leave good

crotches and limbs as you go for rigging the next

section. Resist the urge to knock out the easy

stuff just to get a bunch of brush on the ground. If

its easy now, it'll be easy later. It also might make

something else easy instead of "purt-near impossible".

Keep ahead of your plan.

B. With the exception of clearing a path for a

clear shot, starting in the top and working down is

generally a good plan.

C. Consider using a High-Lead to facilitate brush

removal. I've referenced the High-Lead several

times but have not gone into rigging details. It's

hard to explain without diagrammatic sketches

and if you attended the seminar this manuscript

was handed out at, you saw the High-Lead in action.

If you didn't attend, you should contact us

about doing a seminar in your area.

D. Keep up with debris disposal. Unless you

need some brush for an impact cushion or

camouflage, keep the site clean. Ropes catch

badly in loose brush, people trip and fall, and

brush with heavy wood thrown on top is hard to


88 Blair: Rigging for Removal


There is no reason for a tree removal to cause

damage or injury. Hazard assessment is the subject

of another manuscript. All of the principles

detailed herein apply to sound, predictable wood.

Keep your rigging high and directly vertical or

design the swing away from the climber. Use a tag

line(s) to catch and control backswing.

Know what you'll need before you get there.

Bring a little extra. One less rope or one less man

can mean the difference between a disaster and a

good job.

For years, I didn't think that there was any

money in removals. You don't get any repeat

business from a removed tree. In general

removals go to the lowest (dumbest?) bidder. Big

wood is hard on the men and equipment. I

developed this opinion twenty years ago when all

we had to work with was manila rope and an occasional

wood block. In 1971 I lost a night's sleep

worrying about the next day's wreck down. It was

a huge, heavy, creekside sycamore with about

70' of 4' diameter trunk angling directly over the

peak of the house beneath. We had no blocks, no

slings, didn't know about a High-Lead, couldn't afford

a crane. My saddle was an old Davey

"nutsmasher". All I could see in my mind's eye all

night long was a log in the living room. That morning,

the tree looked just as bad as I remembered

it. I couldn't risk it. I knew there had to be a good

way to do it safely and efficiently, but at the time I

didn't know what it could be. I walked away from

the job and into a lifelong interest in design of rigging

and removal.

Fifteen years later, I wouldn't thing twice about

taking that job. We'd High-Lead the brush over the

house into the street; Block the wood down

through slings, pulleys, take our wraps on the

Lowering Device. Equipment with know how and

experience does make a difference. It's the true

mark of a professional.

Nebraska Arborist Association
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