"Slabbin' at Wood" #7: "Going from Horizontal to Vertical in Freehand" --by RusticWoodArt

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Blog entry by frank posted 10-02-2007 05:03 PM 2009 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: "Homelite 26 LCS and more....." --by RusticWoodArt Part 7 of "Slabbin' at Wood" series Part 8: "Wood Ballet Dancing in the FreeHand" --by RusticWoodArt »

Going from Horizontal to Vertical in Freehand here we go again, best grab your safety glasses, mickey mouse ears and put your chaps on, as we journey outside into the wonder-full world of workin’ with wood….

Safety is:

1) eye protection
2) ear protection
3) leg and groin protection

....and….if we were entering the woods to take some trees down….

4) head protection!

Safety is; having a good mental disposition….or right mindset!

Safety is understanding all those things that can go wrong and being ready, willing and able to deal with all those multiple possibilities that can come your way all at once.

Safety is knowing that the blow rag you carry or should carry out here, is more then for blowing ones nose and that this can be your first link to continuing your life, should things get out of hand….so choose your blow rag well! Ones blow rag, can be ones lifeline to continuing life!

Safety is understanding that the clothing one wears out here, is more than being of comfortable fit and so wear your layers and be able to shed and put back on, as your body tells you what it needs!, safety and more safety, the safety you forget, can be the last thing you ever forgot to remember.

Well, so here we are at where we left off last time, out here at the woodpile. This is where we are practicing the art of ‘freehand’ slabbin’ some maple up into slabs for future use in some bench’s and tops….

....I have my jig system in place for holding the log off the ground, what no store bought systems here…. one will notice the self made wedging system for holding the log upright and in position. Yes, there at the base where the log rests on the dogs, (dogs, a timber framers definition of the blocks he uses to hold and work his wood off of….some dogs have it, some dogs don’t and never will….)....

....we are now going to take a good look at what makes this form of ‘freehand’ slabbin’ so success-full in my opinion…..

....the log teeth on a chainsaw are what grips the saw in place to the log and though removed by many loggers, I retain them as this is what allows me to pivot my saw from a horizontal position to a vertical position in the technique of making these cuts….study what I am saying here and practice this, and one will be able to make these cuts without any-other need of jig! The method of ‘freehanding’ described herein is of my own design….never was taught it, first time I am showing it and yet I’m sure that there are many others out there using much the same approach. Ron....TreeBones has said; ”I also have the 395XP with a 36” bar that I use to rip (freehand) in half logs that are 48” and larger in diameter, then they will fit on my mill that will only take a 36” dia. log”.... I will make a mark in the log of where I am going to start my cut, here you see that I have notched the end of the log and stuck a knife therein to bring to your attention, ( please remember to remove the knife if you are taking photos….)....

....see how those teeth or dogs are setting on the log, as my cut is started in the horizontal position, I will slowly tilt the saw into the log using those teeth the keep my saw level and at a pivot point…. more shot here of the saw sitting on top of the log. Now lets start the saw up and make some chips of wood dust….

Safety minute brought to by RusticWoodArt:
I’m sure we’ve all seen those pictures of folks starting their chainsaws, with one hand holding the saw off the ground and then they take their other hand and pull the rope handle to get the saw started….BAD NEWS, you just failed my class….please collect your gear and go home! NEVER, NEVER EVER start a chainsaw any place, except for on the ground, if you want to remain all in one piece and live a healthy life….besides, I don’t want to have to clean up the mess….

....well the saws running and so we pick it up off the ground, place the saw on the edge of the log and after making a starter cut on my mark, I am now tilting the saw from it’s horizontal position to a continuous downward motion of cut in the vertical, (you have now entered the twilight zone, know your surroundings and for all those that would be around, make sure that they know….no distractions allowed) and please remember that down there on the ground below you, you have two feet which you are expected to keep…. photo….

....see how the saw is resting on those teeth….

....the teeth are what one is using here, to set up the cut and maintain the cut….it’s all about maintaining that pivot point…. will also notice now the saw bar sticking through the bottom of the log, this is a 24’’ bar and chain I am using here….if the log were larger I would step up to a 36’’ bar and chain. One point I will mention here and talk about later, is that it is due also to the length of the bar, I am able also to maintain a true cut, knowing how to use the length of the bar work for me, also makes the bar become my jig system for cutting slabs in the ‘freehand’....

....and one more of the end of the bar coming through the log….

....and on this point I will leave you with an-other slab photo and continue this again tomorrow….

....all my seeing is what lies before me….

Thank you.

[email protected]

” smart, work safe, and live, to work the wood….”

-- --frank, NH,

8 comments so far

View mot's profile


4928 posts in 5122 days

#1 posted 10-02-2007 05:13 PM

That’s a good blog, Frank. Thanks!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View 's profile

593 posts in 5057 days

#2 posted 10-02-2007 06:06 PM

A real keeper Frank. Thank you.

For what I have read till now, this is exactly the same method I was taught, only that in my case they told me to do it horizontally. Also on dogs and also pivoting the saw all the time along those teeth.



Even I’ve never tried the vertical variation, it seems to me easier to maintain the parallelism between cuts… but harder to maintain both feet attached to the end of the legs if you let your mind slip for a second. And I do know that you just can not allow yourself such luxury!

The only downside I see is that you have to be very careful when choosing or cleaning a terrain free of stones or any other potentially dangerous thing that could accidentally be hit by the tip of the bar.

The more I think about it, the more logical it looks to me. Working horizontally is very exhausting for you are all the time holding and fighting against the heavy weight of the saw engine. On the other hand though, using your system you allow the same weight to work as a counterbalance and thus help you.

All this doesn’t make anything but to confirm what we already knew: you are a smart guy!

View Fingersleft's profile


71 posts in 4982 days

#3 posted 10-02-2007 07:54 PM


Thank’s for the great tutorial. Can never get enough of chainsaw technique and SAFETY. These are potentially mean machines. My neighbor learned his lesson last year. Fortunately, all he has is a faily ugly scar to remind him. Still has all of his “parts and pieces” and they are still connected where they originally were. He will NOT start his saw off the ground again, I’m sure.

Unfortunately, the only thing I use my saw for is cutting firewood. I’ve got a lot of young pine on my property. And a lot of annual clearing of dead fall. These are the times I wished I lived closer to some good old growth hardwood forests.

-- Bob

View RobS's profile


1334 posts in 5392 days

#4 posted 10-02-2007 09:00 PM

This is one of those times where you don’t want to “step up to” or “belly up to” the “bar”..

Frank, do you do anything special to make your cut so it will be perpendicular to the plane, you know straight up and down? I’d have to imagine that there would be logs where the teeth on one side of the bar would not engage the log on the same level on the other side of the bar. I know the rows of teeth may only be a inch apart, but we all know logs come in strange shapes and sizes. You may even have logs where the teeth only engage the log on one side of the bar only.

Perhaps, I’m jumping the gun (or saw) and should just be patient for the remainder of your fine blog.

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1819 posts in 5172 days

#5 posted 10-03-2007 01:22 AM

Great stuff Frank.

Given all your chainsaw experience what would you buy if you were buying one today and it would be your only one?

-- Bob

View 's profile

593 posts in 5057 days

#6 posted 10-03-2007 03:38 AM

Rob, I don’t want to highjack Frank’s thread but, in my limited experience, the width of the bar itself is enough to keep the saw going straight ahead, similarly as what a wide bandsaw blade does versus a narrow one. Both teeth only engage equally in a couple of cuts while cutting the central wider slabs, the rest of the time you are cutting at an angle with the log’s bark and one of the sides always “goes away” from it, hence making impossible full contact of the teeth.

Even though you can only see the tip of the bar, it’s easy to picture if you look at the photo I posted above.

But let’s leave the expert himself explain this to us in the next post!

View frank's profile


1492 posts in 5291 days

#7 posted 10-03-2007 04:49 AM

Hello to everyone here;

—-thank you Tom….

—-hi Bob//Fingersleft; the Black Forest, Colorado….hmmm, I’ll have to check your area out and read more about where you live. Thanks for your backup on the safety need of starting these beasts on the ground and for your comments….comments are all-ways welcome….

——now lets see, hi Jojo and Rob….I will put off answering your questions till my next post, so hang in there. Great questions, great photo (thanks Jojo) and great comments here, and never feel like your hijacking any blog story of mine….I just throw the seeds out, another waters and whatever comes forth….so be it. I will mention that it’s exciting to me, when I see others wanting to jump in and add to the comments in my stories, with their own interpretations of what//and what they feel qualified to answer. Thanks to both of you for the time and effort, with questions and experience, that the both of you are sharing….

—-hi Bob; I would have a hard time offering up advice on an only ‘one’ chainsaw to buy as no-one will do, till I have more information as to what you are intending and wanting that chainsaw to do. Now you’ve got me going….what-when-where-how….!
What is the saw mainly to be used for?
When will the saw be used?
Where will the saw be used?
How will the saw be used?
....and most important of all, how-when-where-what is your level of SAFETY knowledge….and remember we are talking about ‘body-mind-spirit’? Once these can be answered, then one will know the type of chainsaw to buy. By the way, spent Sunday up in north country looking at an area called ‘the bowl’. Waundered in for some miles…lookin’ for old growth, and never saw an-other soul till late in the day as I was coming out,....thanks for stopping by….

Thanks you all.

-- --frank, NH,

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 5396 days

#8 posted 10-03-2007 06:24 PM

Great blog, Frank! Are you using a rip chain on your saw or the standard crosscut type? If using a standard chain, I found that cutting horizontally produces nice long shavings and the saw isn’t as over worked as if trying to cut with the saw as you have discribed, but with a rip chain your method would be best. You ended up with some nice slabs. I can hardly wait to see what you make with them.

-- Jesus is Lord!

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