Photo Essay: Just Cut It
Taking down a 110-year-old oak tree in Braintree, Mass.

When the tree began dropping large limbs on calm, sunny days, the property owner ordered an inspection that revealed its main load-bearing sections were rotted on the inside. Saving it was not an option, especially when its enormous mass posed a threat to human life during a storm. But how do professionals go about cutting down such a massive tree in a populated area? Don't do this work on your own; those pictured are part of a professional tree-maintenance and cutting service.

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The climber dons boot spikes and a harness as his work day begins. From his "throne," the crane operator coordinates the operation. The crane hoists the climber toward the tree.
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After securing each limb to the crane, he cuts it away. The chipper operator "catches" the limbs from the crane. He saws the limbs into sections the chipper can manage.
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With a push of the button the tree limbs become mulch. The chipper can handle tree limbs several inches in diameter. The climber cautiously crawls out toward the power lines.
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He cuts carefully knowing that live wires are nearby. The tree's hollow load-bearing section falls away. The combination of a windy day and the tree's rotted trunk creates a shower of sawdust.
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The cuts divide the main trunk into 10-foot sections. The final cut: the last section of the main trunk at ground level The massive trunk is hoisted over the wires and shakes the street when set down.

All images are copyright © 2005 by Mike Colclough, all rights reserved.