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wellington womble

Power tools

I find myself in need of basic tools to keep a couple of acres under control. This is not really my sort of shopping!

What do I need to know? Initially, I am thinking of a brushcutter, lawn mower/small tractor thingy and (very) small chainsaw, plus sharp things for cutting wood (axe, splitter, maul, bill hook and so on). I need to do a lots of brush clearance and weed management, some tree felling and coppicing, and keep on top of a couple of acres which I am going to plant up with trees.

I'll obviously get professionals in to deal with the big trees, and they will section them for me to split. There are several bits of old coppice and fruit trees to take down and then coppicing in the longer term.

With the exception of the mower, I want things to be as small and manageable as possible, just like me. Although I can often handle the weight of man sized tools, I really struggle with the grips as my hands are so small. I'm assuming that there is some sort of toy tractor/versatile ride on mower available for smallholders that can pull a harrow and a small trailer, as well as being able to cut grass?

Good brands, that don't break down all the time and come with instructions on maintenance and simple problem solving. I may know nothing about the infernal combustion engine, but I can follow instructions and put up flat pack furniture, and surely it can't be harder than that?

(Safety gear goes without saying. I may need children's sizes...)
Piggyphile

Sorry to not be much practical help but you need a small 3 wheeled Galician tractor called a Bertolini as demonstrated by a typical Galician family
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9vNoiy08oM
Safety equipment is a blue boiler suit and baseball cap.
Evidently they are quite hard to drive and last for decades.

Oh I nearly forgot don't miss the Galician Wrecking ball song,very 'Galician'
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDS0pUYezQo
tahir

I'd buy as few power tools as possible, unless they're used every week you can guarantee that they won't start or will break the one time you actually need them
tahir

WW why do you need a mower? The trees will eventually shade the grass out but until then it'll supress other weeds, we just mulch new plantings
Piggyphile

On a serious note I recently bought a Maruyama brushcutter BC4320H-RS for 479 euros, it is easy to start and comes with a brushcutter head and a strimmer head. It is classed as 'professional' weighs 7.9kg and I can work with it (arthritic knees, 50 female) but I have decided to only use it when someone else is around as I need to start it first before strapping it to me and it is awkward until it is on the harness.

I would recommend a full body harness as opposed to a strap over one shoulder. I don't know of any suppliers in the UK and I have only had it for a month. The guys in the shop said it is the model they use for hiring out and it lasts well. Could you try hiring one for a couple of days to see if you like it? We ended up going to a good local dealer and seeing what they had rather than travelling miles away. My local dealer also services them.
Hairyloon

I was reasonably impressed with the Ryobi battery chainsaw.
As long as you aren't expecting it to perform like a petrol saw and just want to do some light cutting, it is not bad.
Light weight and never has a problem with stale fuel or mucky sparkplug.
dpack

a good axe ,not too heavy .18" handle.grunfors or similar

a good wheel barrow,builders merchants,too useful to list how useful

felling lever with hook.not just for felling but useful for pulling stuff around.

chainsaw ,spend most of the money on training then get a good oldish second hand husky and ppe ,save the money on felling fellas by practicing your new skills.

brush cutting etc either go petrol or get a selection of traditional blades on a stick type tools,i would go for the latter .brush hook ,small schythe,machete.all these need practice but are much nicer and just as fast as noise and fumes once mastered .

kelly kettle for brew time Wink
onemanband

I'd buy as few power tools as possible, unless they're used every week you can guarantee that they won't start or will break the one time you actually need them


Assuming you are talking about petrol powered....
If you buy professional kit (Stihl / Husky) then that is not the case.
In the past I've used semi-professional/DIY kit and they can be finicky about starting.
I now have 4 Stihl machines and they all start easy - even if they are stored for months with fuel in the tank. I rarely check they will start before heading off to a job.

Yes professional kit is expensive but a 99 petrol tool is more than likely unrepairable once broken, is virtually disposable and IMO a waste of money and resources.

And professional kit is usually lighter.
Cathryn

I use a stihl brushcutter (only when I absolutely have to). The size is not important in a way since it is very well balanced but I was thinking the height might be a problem for you so you'd better go and try it.

I do not like chainsaws of any size and would try and find another option, good loppers probably. That is just me though but I could show you the large scar on Jack's hand from when a friend turned round with the chainsaw already turned off but still not quite slowed down enough...
Cathryn

PS Next year when we have some orphan lambs...
Treacodactyl

Would a good quality hand saw suffice? Something like a decent, long, Silky saw? I've used mine for light felling and well as coppicing and limbing.

I'm now looking at a professional chainsaw and I'm expecting to pay the same for all the PPE kit and the same again for training.

One thing about petrol machinery that's not often used, I've heard a few people recommend something like Aspen fuel, as it has a longer shelf life than standard petrol.
dpack

thinking of muscle powered saws,a bow saw with a good blade(sandvik are excellent blades and can be got with different teeth for soft/hard woods) is a very useful tool .
for a few cuts they are as fast as a chainsaw if you include time fueling, finding ppe ,etc etc .
Hairyloon

Would a good quality hand saw suffice? Something like a decent, long, Silky saw? I've used mine for light felling and well as coppicing and limbing.

I'll say again to give some thought to a battery saw. I reckon the one we've got is safer than a silky.

Quote:
One thing about petrol machinery that's not often used, I've heard a few people recommend something like Aspen fuel, as it has a longer shelf life than standard petrol.

I've heard that there is a lot of variety in the amount of alcohol in modern petrol: not even consistent across brands.
I'm told that alcohol is a cause of a lot of trouble in saws, etc.
dpack

my milwaukie sawzall is ok for stuff up to about 100mm but a full charge is about ten mins cutting which is ok as it fast charges and has 2 batteries but it needs to be near a plug.

a good chainsaw is cheaper than a good battery saw and will run while you have fuel ,with most a 5 ltr fuel tin will do a days work which is a lot of cutting
Hairyloon

a good chainsaw is cheaper than a good battery saw and will run while you have fuel ,with most a 5 ltr fuel tin will do a days work which is a lot of cutting
It depends what you are doing. Clearly a battery saw is no good for logging, but in a lot of land management work, you spend more time moving than you do actual cutting.
For that sort of thing, our battery chainsaw will usually go all morning, if not longer.
Ty Gwyn

Can you still get Sandvik blades for bow saws today?
Not that i have googled mind,but locally only the rubbish Irwin and the like are available,half a dozen cuts and it feels like an old blade,
On the other hand ,a Sandvik will do a hundred,and then re-set the teeth and it will do another hundred,they keep their edge well.
dpack

a few left on ebay and some shops still have em

not tried the bahco branded ones
Nick

a good chainsaw is cheaper than a good battery saw and will run while you have fuel ,with most a 5 ltr fuel tin will do a days work which is a lot of cutting
It depends what you are doing. Clearly a battery saw is no good for logging, but in a lot of land management work, you spend more time moving than you do actual cutting.
For that sort of thing, our battery chainsaw will usually go all morning, if not longer.

Too many tea breaks.
Hairyloon

a good chainsaw is cheaper than a good battery saw and will run while you have fuel ,with most a 5 ltr fuel tin will do a days work which is a lot of cutting
It depends what you are doing. Clearly a battery saw is no good for logging, but in a lot of land management work, you spend more time moving than you do actual cutting.
For that sort of thing, our battery chainsaw will usually go all morning, if not longer.

Too many tea breaks.
Quite possibly, but as I said, it depends on what you're doing.
Nicky Colour it green

the best loppers, IMHO are fiskars vegplot

the best loppers, IMHO are fiskars

They're great aren't they.
dpack

fiskars used to make a light brush hook that was ideal for brambles etc a bit short of handle for tall folk but ideal for short ones like me,good bladed tools in general,i have had a few scissors and knives from them. onemanband

I have Bahco bow saw - no complaints - does what it's meant to
Don't buy a non-brand/cheap bow saw - it will be pants.

Loppers - I am using Wolfgarten as best - no complaints.
I also use cheap (15ish) extending handle loppers. They only last me a year or two, but are good for cutting roots or where there is risk of cutting wire. Extending handles give extra reach and leverage (tho excessive use for leverage will break them)
wellington womble

PS Next year when we have some orphan lambs...

Nope. Not near my trees (the land is a couple of miles away - too far to be committed to frequent checks. And if you tell Jenna you have baby lambs to cuddle, you can board her until midsummer!). I know what you mean about chainsaws, but having coppiced one four or five year old stool with a handsaw, I think I need power. It took me all afternoon! And there will be all that firewood too...

I don't think loppers will do - I'm hoping for firewood sized logs from the coppice (eventually) and there are several big trees which need to come down first, too.

I have hired brush cutters in the past, and I don't remember it being a problem height wise. I remember I couldn't wear the gloves, as they would have fit on my feet!

I had noticed that stihl was expensive, and wondered if they were worth it (I don't mind paying if you get your money's worth)

I don't really drink tea, and I will only have school hours to work in, so it won't be long sessions anyway. I do store my caravan on site, though!
wellington womble

WW why do you need a mower? The trees will eventually shade the grass out but until then it'll supress other weeds, we just mulch new plantings

Do you think I'd get away without one? It's fairly neglected grass, chock full of thistles and docks and brambles. I'm planning (it's still at the planning stage) to plant hazel and coppice it, with some oak standards. I know eventually they will shade everything out, but I'm expecting it to take a few years. And they will always be the orchard and tracks and things. I'm also a bit wary of strimming near trees. I'll put weed suppressing membrane down along the rows and then thought I could just trundle up and down with the mower once a week to keep it all neat.

Sounds idyllic, doesn't it?
Ty Gwyn

Had a look at them Bahco blades ,the type with the less teeth,and the double toothed every 5th one,looks very similar to the old Sandvik,so will give them a go if i cannot source a Sandvik,which stood up to regular use underground in wet conditions. tahir

[quote="wellington womble:1417436"]
Do you think I'd get away without one? /quote]

Yes, we had a couple of acres of rough grassland that had a few oak and ash saplings in it when we got here, they are now good sized young trees without any intervention from us

The natural state in most of the uk is forest, any bit of land you leave untouched will eventually revert to woodland
Mistress Rose

I would try a chainsaw (under supervision) before buying, and I think you are wise to leave the big tree felling to someone else. You could go on various courses, but a basic small tree one, would be adequate for coppicing. You might need medium or even large tree, and wind blow as well to deal with other trees.

You will have to wait a long time for the hazel to establish itself and then grow to firewood size. If you have trees and big shrubs there already, could you just keep then in rotation for firewood? Most British woods are fine for burning if they are seasoned, but make sure they are stored off the ground, and take the bark off one side of birch, or cut and split it to season as otherwise if rots before seasoning.
Hairyloon

I would try a chainsaw (under supervision) before buying, and I think you are wise to leave the big tree felling to someone else.
As I recall, for felling purposes a "big tree" is defined as one with a diameter 1.5 x the length of the chainsaw bar... or is it 2.5? Confused
wellington womble

I will definitely leave the trees to the professionals and their toys. I just want something that will cut small firewood coppice, and chop it into lengths that will fit in my stove. Leaving me with hands that are functional and not take all year! Four to six inch diameter logs, at a guess.

The smallest chainsaw I've seen is 8 inches, although I had six in mind. However, it's the brushcutter that is most pressing - it looks like stihl has the most votes.

There are a few mature trees onsite - a couple of field maples and sycamore, two big hoarse chestnuts, a couple of ash trees and one medium oak There is also a TPO. I am hoping to coppice them for short term use, but that is by no means certain at present.

I think I will need a mower to give the trees the best chance and for the rest of it. I am also hoping to plant truffle infected trees and I think they need mowing (capital permitting) I would also find a small trailer and possibly a harrow useful, so a mower that would also tow those things would be very useful. Any recommendations?
Mistress Rose

Check on the TPO before doing anything. Unfortunately some are written in a very unreasonable way that could even stop you re-coppicing. You might be able to get variations on it if you can put a good case. If you don't currently have Chelara near you, the ash, field maple and sycamore may well be better (unless they are really nice trees), run as coppice. The chestnut has to be left as I am not sure if it coppices. Oak will coppice, but it is usually grown as a standard. Hairyloon

Having looked at the current price for the battery saw I was talking about, I retract my recommendation: it's gone up to somewhere near double what we paid for ours.
It's still a good tool, but not at that price.
dpack

an 8"bar on a chainsaw is a bit small even for light work/cross cutting

imho get a 40/50 cc engine and a bar of 14" or a bit bigger for easy safe cutting of firewood sized stuff.

decent saws can take a variety of bars and one that balances the motor to hang level will be easiest for cross cutting,too short will tend to rise /jump and too long will be hard to control well for starting cuts .

much like the other tools try the feel and balance before you buy .

ps a short bar is not safer than one the right size
Hairyloon

an 8"bar on a chainsaw is a bit small even for light work/cross cutting
I don't think I've ever seen one that small. I think even the one on my hedge-trimmer attachment is bigger than that.
gregotyn

I don't know if you have one already, but a pickup truck will tow a trailer and chain harrow for you, assuming your ground is levelish and bring the log harvest home along with all the tools. Only when you decide you need a tractor driven saw for logging do you need a tractor, but there are devices to put your chain saw in that cut the log the right length every time-well mine does so that you don't really need the tractor-and I don't have to keep picking the saw up and down all the time. If you go for the tractor driven machine then make sure it does everything for you length and splitting.
Regarding the mower, there are mowers which would also go round towed by the pickup and you can offset them to go under trees if you need to. The mower is powered by a motor mounted on the mower. In any event, enjoy doing it! I hope I haven't repeated what others have said- if I have I apologise!
Mistress Rose

You can get stands for cutting to length as Gregotyn says. Something like that might be quite useful for you as it takes a lot of the effort out of crosscutting for firewood. wellington womble

I had thought of some sort of arrangement for cutting to length, but hadn't got so far as investigating. I'm not surprised there's something available, as it seems a very sensible idea.

A pick up will be too big to fit between the rows of coppice, I think - we are talking very small scale here! I suppose what I really want is a quad that will tow a mower, harrow and small trailer. Or something of that sort of size and arrangement. Kenwood chef for the smallholder!
crofter

You can get stands for cutting to length as Gregotyn says. Something like that might be quite useful for you as it takes a lot of the effort out of crosscutting for firewood.

This looks good



http://www.raasayengineering.co.uk/loggit.html
dpack

I had thought of some sort of arrangement for cutting to length, but hadn't got so far as investigating. I'm not surprised there's something available, as it seems a very sensible idea.

A pick up will be too big to fit between the rows of coppice, I think - we are talking very small scale here! I suppose what I really want is a quad that will tow a mower, harrow and small trailer. Or something of that sort of size and arrangement. Kenwood chef for the smallholder!

somewhere there is a thread about just such a thing based on a motorbike
dpack

http://forum.downsizer.net/viewtopic.php?t=79342&highlight=motorbike+tractor wellington womble

I can just see me on that!

Seriously, is there really not a commercially quad-type/size vehicle that will harrow and tow a small trailer? I'd have thought there would be quite a demand for them.
tahir

A quad can tow a small trailer and harrow
http://www.apachequads.com/trailers/rpl0091atvtrailer.php
Nick

Yeah, my quad would do that. Mistress Rose

We have a little alpine tractor that we bought to work in the coppice. It has the advantage over a quad bike that it twists in the middle so at least 3 wheels are always on the ground. Makes it a lot more stable and it will go where quads won't. Low impact too, so doesn't do much damage to the ground. We use it with a forwarder, mower, log splitter, and post ram attachments. Might be a bit more than you want, but definitely a useful machine for close packed stools.

When you cut the coppice, if you want to walk or take a vehicle in there, cut the stool so that the outside rods are slightly lower than the middle ones, but don't leave them spiky but there are not sharp edges, which is best done with a chainsaw. Then if you fall or drive over them there is less chance of getting a puncture in either a tyre or you.
midtown

Fully agree with Mistress Rose regarding the alpine tractor.

We've got one of these http://www.ctm-ltd.co.uk/index.php/goldoni-tractors/4-wheel-tractors/quad-20/ and together with a range of attachments, its virtually made our David Brown redundant!

Its certainly proved its worth when fitted with the back hoe and ditching bucket, as we can now access and clean out ancient ditches which previously we could only do by hand.

Cat 1. 3 point lift, 2 speed PTO, tows 2 ton plus, an excellent bit of kit!
gregotyn

There are quad bikes available which will tow purpose made mowers and small trailers and would be adequate for a small coppice enterprise-all you have to do is make sure the ground is suitable for such machines and if you don't know someone will advise you. If you do most operations sensibly and not fly round the place then they should cope and last for some time. I see the value of the small alpine style tractor, they are tough and good, but I read between the lines that you are seeing this more as a hobby and for enjoyment rather than a commercial enterprise, where you have deadlines to keep, or am I mistaken? I am seeing this as I viewed my 2 acres of fruit trees when I was married, as a slight income without the confines of commercialism! I sold most of my fruit and veg at work. My sole power was an old garden ride-on mower which had a rotovator attachment at the back if needed, I made a trailer for the job in the orchard. I am not suggesting that an old ride-on mower is suitable for you. A good quality quad is best bought from a local dealer. A farmer friend always has Hondas and a second hand one of his would be a good buy as they look after their tack, but too far from you! I am only giving my opinion others will differ no doubt, but I hope this helps. Cathryn

Quad's are an easy target for theft.

Hiring someone to come and do a lot of this work on a regular basis would probably be a much cheaper option. You might then also have someone local keeping an extra eye on the place. Then you can get on with planting and tending and playing and lying in the sun enjoying. doesn't mean you can't dig and hoe occasionally if the urge takes you.
dpack

in a small area a few power tools that will fit in a car boot and a wheel barrow chained to a tree might be a good option . Mistress Rose

A quad bike with attachments is very useful Gregotyn, but there is always the problem of theft as Cathryn says. Our local Countrywatch seems to have at least one stolen in each issue. There are advantages to getting someone local in to help, but it depends upon finance and if there is anyone suitable. gregotyn

I assumed Wellington Womble would be taking the quad home, as they are road going with the right insurance, and taking the machines/produce too. At home I garage everything and leave nothing out that is obviously knickable or worth taking.
For site clearance you could always invest in pigs or better to offer the ground to a local pig keeper, he gets to do the fencing, they would clear the ground faster than most things and thoroughly with no serious effort on your part; and as for lawn mowers, Shropshire sheep won't graze your trees-they are called the orchard sheep for that reason. All you need now is Jenna to become a shepherd in order to maintain the flock! Your imput is to collect the rent- pork, bacon and sausages, lamb chops and shoulder and gather the fruit after the pigs have gone and you have planted the fruit trees!
Mistress Rose

Sounds ideal Gregotyn. Just need someone to water the pigs and sheep and see they play nicely. Very Happy gregotyn

I was only suggesting the owner of the pigs looked after them, not WW! there would be enough to do splitting the big logs the proffessionals are going to cut down The the pigs would have to go before the sheep arrive, cos the pigs would be uprooting the fruit trees WW is going to plant and grow before the sheep arrive! wellington womble

There are fruit trees already. I don't want animals yet, though. It's bad enough being tied to the school run (the land is three miles away) I'm a bit limited as to what I can keep here - I have no garage, so to-ing and fro-ing is not really an option. I might take Catherine's advice and contract it this year. I wanted to plant trees, but the woodland creation grants are not expected to return until the spring, so I will miss this years window. There will be plenty to do in the orchard and garden, but I'm back to square one with what to do with the grassland. I wonder if it's worth ploughing it and planting something. dpack

if it is only a small bit of grass it might be best to plan someting else for it Treacodactyl

I wanted to plant trees, but the woodland creation grants are not expected to return until the spring, so I will miss this years window.

I gather the window for getting a grant next spring will be short as they're changing the grant system next year. You'll need to have your land registered with the RPA and you may need a suitable management plan. Worth speaking to your local FC office if you've not already done so.
Lloyd

, but I'm back to square one with what to do with the grassland. I wonder if it's worth ploughing it and planting something.

Invite local horse owners to rent the land to allow their horses grazing? At a low cost short term rental that will get you through to March before you have to reface these decisions?
Nick

Horses will destroy it over the winter. wellington womble

I gather the window for getting a grant next spring will be short as they're changing the grant system next year. You'll need to have your land registered with the RPA and you may need a suitable management plan. Worth speaking to your local FC office if you've not already done so.

That's pretty much what they said, except he implied the system was currently changing. They don't expect any applications to be made until spring, but they haven't had any details yet. He was dismissive of the TPO's. He also mentioned initial funding and maintenance over the next ten years as a possibility. Apparently, the FC have an alerts system you can register for. I've put it on a list, but I'm keeping any eye out anyway.

I don't think it's really suitable for stock. It's not an empty field, it's got all sorts of greenhouses, raised beds and fruit trees in the middle of it. I've no idea what's lurking in the undergrowth, either.
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