Water Oak Retrevial with a Simple Crane

I was at Tim’s property again gathering more of the Water Oak he’d had cut down.  Last time we cut the bucked logs in half with a chainsaw and walked them upstairs.  It was slow and not very fun.  So, I came up with some ideas to make the task easier this time.

To split the wood, this time I only cut down about the height of the chainsaw bar and used wedges to split the piece in half.  You want to cut deep enough so that the sides of the wedges are contacting but not the tip.  This way all of your effort goes into splitting the wood instead of trying to drive the wedge through solid wood.  Once the groove has been cut by the chains the wedges can be tapped into place.


Once the wedges are set, you can start heavily beating on them.  I used a 5lb shop hammer though I did have a sledge hammer on hand but it was not required.  As you progress, the sound heard when you hit the wedge changes from a solid sound to a dull thud which indicates the wood is splitting.  Eventually, the wood will split along the groove.


The wedges are driven until thee wood splits apart completely or you can’t reach them.  From here the pieces can be levered apart if need be.  Since you’re splitting with the grain the split is straight down.


The next step is to get the wood up the 60 or so feet to the top.  In the picture below, the green arrow points out where the wood was stacked at split.  Last time we used the stairs to get the wood to the top.  That really wears on ya though.


This time I came up with this after seeing something similar in a book on knots.  The crane consists of two 6′ long 2x4s attached end to end with some thin steel plates and some bolts.  The rope is attached to the crane with screw in eye bolts and tied to the tree.  If both ropes come off of the same side of the tree the crane can then pivot in that direction.  The crane is attached to the tree that is identified by the red arrow above.  A couple home made blocks were used to run the rope.  Initially, the boom of the rope was several inches above the railing but after a couple loadings the rope stretched and allowed the boom to touch the railing.  This caused the boom to bend instead of just being in compression.  In response to this, the top rope was shortened to let the boom clear the railing again.  With the rigging below there is no mechanical advantage which means you’re pulling effort is the same as the weight of the payload.  It’s actually a bit more due to friction though.


Here’s a closeup of one of my homemade blocks.  Not sure what their load rating is but I’ve had it up to 120 lbs so far.


After seeing how much extra rope I had, I decided to use another block to rig the crane to have a 2:1 mechanical advantage.  Theoretically, this means the pulling force would be half the weight of the payload.  Unfortunately, for reasons I’m still not sure of, the rope twisted as the payload was raised which drastically increased the pulling force required near the top.  It’s possible that allowing the rope attached to the bottom of the top block to rotate or allowing the hook on the descending block to rotate would solve this problem.  Either way the use of the crane, with Clarence down below attaching payloads, made things much easier.   Once the payload was raised the boom was rotated to the left until the payload could be caught and put down on the stairway.


Upon disassembly of the crane I noticed the eye bolts near the base of the tree was a little bent.   Next time I’ll use a larger size or a better quality part.  None of the others were bent though.

Once all the wood was up at the top it still had to be moved back to the vehicles but this wasn’t too bad.  In the end 14 halves were brought back to the vehicles.


Now I just have to turn it all into bowls!  Thanks also go out to Leon for assisting in payload retrieval at the top and to Tim for giving me the wood.

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4 Responses to Water Oak Retrevial with a Simple Crane

  1. Nathan says:

    Excellent article. Any pictures of the crane in action?

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  3. 7waystolive says:

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