I went thinking that we wouldn't really get to fell a very big tree, just something to get a rough idea.
How wrong I was.
We started on a sliver birch about 12" in diameter and the other half the group (there were 6 on the course plus 3 instructors) tackled a tree of about the same size. This was so we could practice our axe skills learning what angle to cut at and how to place it safely without it slipping and cutting your boot (or worse). We did this whole tree with axes, no crosscut saw and it was a lovely feeling as it fell over, 180 degrees from where we had first wanted it to go!
The main tree we were to drop was a large oak, 30 inches in diameter at the base. The first cut was put in with a two man crosscut saw and then the "birds mouth" was put in with an axe, everyone taking their turn.
The final cut was then put in with the two man cross cut saw and although it sounds a little big headed my brother and I were the best on this. We could keep and even rhythm easily and at one point the rest of the class were going to place money on which brother would give in first! it took quite a while to drop the oak but it was a great feeling when it did fall, as it went it made that great sound you only get when a big tree falls over.
The hard work wasn't over though as we had to limb it up (sned it up) all with the axe and chop through the main trunk ready for milling on Sunday. Again my brother and me took great pleasure in pushing each other to cut through the trunk getting a big cheer when I made the final chop! I love the picture at the end and you can understand the pride the woodsmen in the past would have had when they fell a big tree by hand.
I will do the milling in another post as I've realised how big this one is!