Tools & Equipment

Having the right tool can make the difference between getting the job done and serious frustration, as well as an aching back. With this in mind, here is a list of useful forest management tools, from the “must-have” to more specialized tools, authored by Ed Reilly, a local small woodland owner.

Basic Cutting Tools

Pole pruning
Photo courtesy of Chris Schnepf
  1. Chainsaw
  2. For safe and efficient operation, make sure you have gloves, chaps, hearing and eye protection. A good investment is a hard hat with face screen and ear muffs. A hard hat is essential if falling trees. Even very small trees can hurt you if they were to hit your head!
  3. Associated with the chain saw is some way to sharpen it- from the basic hand operated round file, 12 volt portable hand held grinder up to a bench style grinder. You must match the diameter of the file to your chain size. Remember to take down the ‘rakers’ or depth gauge teeth too.
  4. Containers for fuel and oil.
  5. For work during fire season – fire tools – shovel, Pulaski, hazel hoe, McCleod, small fire extinguisher for use with chain saw. Larger operations require a water truck or even a dozer.

Fuel reduction and slash disposal

A log arch and ATV can be used to move small logs
Photo courtesy of JJSWA
  1. For cutting of plants low to the ground (e.g., re-sprouting manzanita), use a brush cutter (weed eater with a brushing blade).
  2. If folks are burning in the winter/spring you will need at least a shovel. Your local fire Dept. may require a permit for open burning. Jackson County has a telephone call system to determine the ‘ventilation index’ and if it is a burn day. Call 541-7769-7007.
  3. A drip torch allows ignition of piles with a bit more safety using a non-explosivediesel/gasoline mixture. I hope folks are not throwing gasoline on a pile and the trying to light with a match.
  4. A pruning saw can help remove lower limbs to reduce ladder fuels. A variety of small hand saws are available reach 5-8 feet. Small pole chain saws can be used to reach another 5-10 feet. Pole mounted hand saws such as the Silky Saw can reach up to 20 feet.

Moving logs

Tractor pulling logs with Farmi winch
Photo courtesy of Ed Reilly
  1. Selling logs or yarding logs to have lumber milled on site requires some way to get material from the woods to the processing location. Some folks use a pickup truck or ATV. Safety is paramount here. Logs will easily roll on mild slopes and can pull an ATV, truck or tractor over.
  2. Farm tractors can utilize small rear mounted logging winches made by Farmi or Norland to yard and skid logs. Arches can be used to fully suspend a log.
  3. ATVs (4 wheelers) can also drag small logs and poles. Small arches suitable for ATV’s are readily available.

Processing of material

  1. Firewood – a splitting maul or mechanical splitter. Great exercise by using a maul but it can be hard on the back.
  2. Peeling poles. A long handled peeling spud or a draw knife. It really helps to harvest your live poles in the late spring when the sap is flowing and the bark can peel off easily. Bark will be very tight and difficult to remove if the poles are cut and left too long.
  3. Cutting lumber from logs: Alaskan mill, beam machine, Granberg mill are all attachments to a chain saw. They can make good straight boards but are for low production levels. Portable mills can be brought to your site if you have dozens of logs to mill.
  4. A Peavey is a long handled pole with a hook on the end. This allows a mechanical advantage to roll very heavy logs. Tongs can be used to lift logs.

A farm tractor is very versatile for management of mid-size acreage. A field mower can help you keep the grass down low in the early summer. A chipper can take some of your pruning and thinning material and make chips for use in animal bedding and mulch for weed control. A back blade or a box scraper can help with your road maintenance. The front end loader bucket can dig and move rock and dirt.

Want more information about tools? See WSU Extension’s Basic Hand & Power Forestry Tools website. This site has basic information and photos about fire tools, tools for measurements, moving logs, multi-purpose tools, planting, pruning, thinning, felling and weed management.

Where can I get tools?

A log arch and ATV can be used to move small logs
Photo courtesy of JJSWA

Local sources of tools include your big box and hardware stores. Here are a couple of more specialized local suppliers:

For a wide selection, and tools that can’t be found locally, there are a variety of out of the area suppliers.