Why do we use the cuts we do while removing and pruning trees? Sure most cuts are pretty self-explanatory like a hinge cut or a drop cut. But what about notches? Let’s say something like a traditional notch, why is our top cut sawn at a 45 degree angle to our bottom cut?
Is this for a technical reason that it’s cut at a 45 or could there be another reason? Sure, the hinge wood holds until the tree has made it’s way 90 degrees away from it’s starting point but why did we first start cutting them that way in the first place?
I know when I was just an apprentice learning about making proper cuts I was always told to cut traditional notches, so, I did! I never wondered why we cut it though and with some research I have come to a conclusion. We cut a traditional notch for the same reason that I originally cut it, because we are told to.
We have only been using chainsaws since roughly the 1950’s. Before chainsaws the go-to tools in the woods for cutting were the cross cut saw and axe. If anyone has ever made a notch in a tree with an axe they will surely attest that the best and most efficient way to cut is at a 45 degree downward angle. Wood chips away quite easily when cut at this angle across the grain. The crosscut saw can easily cut perpendicular to the grain of the tree. With those two tools, your traditional notch was born.
I find it very interesting that the downfalls and limitations of previous tools could have formed something that is now one of the first things we learn when cutting in the woods. History can be handed down in many ways and what better way than through wood fiber and the ingenuity of our forefathers!