Updated 7 Apr 2009
Felling a large dead oak
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Quercus rubra, planted 1850.
See the Oak rings
R1114 The dead oak after cutting with
"Aussie speed axes". Axe work clears the loose bark to
prepare for saw work. The notches help steer the fall of the tree.
Before felling, a roped climber cut off the largest lower branches
with a chainsaw
R1115 The dead oak falling. Final work
was done with 2-man crosscut saw and wedges. Saw work produces a smooth surface.
The upper third of the oak was smashed by the fall. The audience was
moved out of range before felling (health and safety).
Five inch magnesium felling wedge.
Helps open the cut, steer the tree,
prevents the tree falling backwards.
Should be kept sharp.
R1116 The cut stump. Saw work gives very
smooth surface, axe work none. Chain-saw surface
would be poor. Blue marks of wedge to open saw cut, cup of tea essential.
R1117 Cutting a 12 foot length with a
two-man saw. The cut is kept open with a hammered wedge. Saw teeth
need to be sharp, work gets harder nearer the ground.
How the big saw works
"...As described, saws will have cutters, rakers, and gullets. As the saw is pulled toward the operator, the cutters along the saw's surface scores the wood to the left and right of the width of the blade, cutting a channel downward into the wood. In many saws there are four cutters, one which cuts left, another which cuts right, then another pair of left and right cutters. After the cutters there is generally a raker followed by a gullet. A raker is what does the actual removal of the wood that is being cut. The raker follows the cutters, scraping the bottom of the kerf being cut. As the raker scrapes the bottom of the channel being cut, the wood is peeled back and stored in the gullet which follows the raker. As the saw is drawn out of the log, the accumulated wood being stored in the gullets in the saw are allowed to fall out onto the ground. A way to determine whether a saw is working well is to examine the noodle shaped wood that gets scraped out of the log being cut. Fairly long strings of wood coming out of the log being cut indicates that the side cutters are doing their job and that the raker is slicing out the wood cleanly." (Wikipedia)
R1156 Victorian 2-man saw, 1 metre between handles.......
R1157 .....with plain saw teeth, 9 teeth in 13 cms.
R1120 Cutting a Salami-slice for the author.
The art is keeping the two cuts 8 cms apart, parallel, and open with
a wedge. The saw must cut right across the trunk.
R1121 The salami-slice ready for
close-up photography of the rings. The saw cut
is very smooth. A band of marked-up graph paper is pinned to a radius for
See the Oak rings
Display for Oak Fair 2009
Dimensions of the assembled display are:
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Quercus rubra (syn. Quercus borealis), is an oak in the red oak group (Quercus section Lobatae). It is a native of North America, in the northeastern United States and southeast Canada. It grows from the north end of the Great Lakes, east to Nova Scotia, south as far as Georgia and states with good soil that is slightly acidic. Often simply called "Red Oak", northern red oak is formally so named to distinguish it from southern red oak (Q. falcata), also known as the Spanish oak.
Description In forests, the northern red oak grows straight and tall, to 35 m (115 ft), exceptionally to 43 m (140 ft) tall, with a trunk of up to 1 m (3 ft) diameter; open-grown trees do not get so tall, but can develop a stouter trunk, up to 2 m (6 ft) in diameter. It has stout branches growing at right angles to the stem, forming a narrow round-topped head. It grows rapidly and is tolerant of many soils and varied situations, although it prefers the glacial drift and well-drained borders of streams.
Detail of mature bark A 10-year-old tree will be about 5 m (15 ft) tall. Northern red oak is easy to recognize by its bark, which features bark ridges that appear to have shiny stripes down the center. A few other oaks have bark with this kind of appearance in the upper tree, but the northern red oak is the only tree with the striping all the way down the trunk.
Bark: Dark reddish gray brown, with broad, thin, rounded ridges, scaly. On young trees and large stems, smooth and light gray. Rich in tannic acid. Branchlets slender, at first bright green, shining, then dark red, finally dark brown. Bark is brownish gray, becoming dark brown on old trees.
Wood: Pale reddish brown herpes, sapwood darker, heavy, hard, strong, coarse-grained. Checks in drying, but when carefully treated could be successfully used for furniture. Also used in construction and for interior finish of houses. Sp. gr., 0.6621; weight of cu. ft., 41.25 lbs.
Winter buds: Dark chestnut brown, ovate, acute, one-fourth of an inch long.
Leaves: Alternate, seven to nine-lobed, oblong-ovate to oblong, five to ten inches long, four to six inches broad; seven to eleven lobes tapering gradually from broad bases, acute, and usually repandly dentate and terminating with long bristle-pointed teeth; the second pair of lobes from apex are largest; midrib and primary veins conspicuous. Lobes are less deeply cut than most other oaks of the red oak group (except for black oak which can be similar). Leaves emerge from the bud convolute, pink, covered with soft silky down above, coated with thick white tomentum below. When full grown are dark green and smooth, sometimes shining above, yellow green, smooth or hairy on the axils of the veins below. In autumn they turn a rich red, sometimes brown. Often the petiole and midvein are a rich red color in midsummer and early autumn, though this is not true of all red oaks. Petioles are stout, one to two inches long, often red; stipules caducous.
Flowers: May, when leaves are half grown. Staminate aments four to five inches long, hairy. Calyx four to five-lobed, greenish; stamens four to five; filaments slender; anthers yellow. Pistillate flowers borne on short peduncles; involucral scales broadly ovate, dark reddish-brown; stigmas elongated, bright green.
Acorns: Ripen in the spring of the second year, about 18 months after pollination; solitary or in pairs, sessile or stalked; nut oblong-ovoid with broad flat base, full, with acute apex, one half to one and one-fourth of an inch long, first green, maturing nut-brown; cup, saucer-shaped and shallow, 2cm (0.8 in) wide, usually covering only the base, sometimes one-fourth of the nut, thick, shallow, reddish brown, somewhat downy within, covered with thin imbricated reddish brown scales. Kernel white and very bitter. Despite this bitterness, they are eaten by deer, squirrels and birds.
In forests, the northern red oak grows straight and tall, to 35 m (115 ft), exceptionally to 43 m (141 ft) tall, with a trunk of up to 1 m diameter; open-grown trees do not get so tall, but can develop a stouter trunk, up to 2 m (6.6 ft) in diameter. Has stout branches growing at right angles to the stem, forming a narrow round-topped head. It grows rapidly and is tolerant of many soils and varied situations although prefers the glacial drift and well-drained borders of streams.
Uses The northern red oak is one of the most important oaks for timber production in North America. The wood is of high value. Other related oaks are also cut and marketed as Red Oak, although their wood is not always of as high a quality. These include black oak, scarlet oak, pin oak, shumard oak, southern red oak and other species in the red oak group. The northern red oak is widely planted and naturalized also in Central Europe.
Red oak wood grain is so open that smoke can be blown through it from end-grain to end-grain on a flatsawn board.
1851/52 & 1852/53: (Winter/Springs)
1. The winter of 1851/52 in Scotland saw some HEAVY SNOWFALL. The first major event affected the north of Scotland on the 13th with considerable disruption to mail services. The railway to Aberdeen from the south was kept open only with difficulty. It was reported that deaths occurred, due to often BLIZZARD conditions. The storms did not continue beyond the end of January.
2. The winter of 1852/53 in Scotland also was SEVERE, particularly in February. Low TEMPERATURES and HEAVY SNOWFALL. This time, severe conditions of cold and snow lasted well into March.
1. A notably WET year over England & Wales: With an EWP of 1213mm, it is placed 3rd in the all-record list. (See also 1872, 1768 and 1960).
1857: (late Summer/early Autumn):
1. Persistently WARM weather from August to October, by CET series.
1859: (October): THE "ROYAL CHARTER" STORM.
1. The GALE of 25th October 1859, which wrecked the fully rigged ship "Royal Charter" on the coast of Anglesey, drowning about 500 people (and loss of gold bullion), led to the introduction of gale warnings (in June 1860). The ship was only one of over 200 vessels wrecked between the 21st October and 2nd November, with the loss of around 800 lives - most of these losses occurred in the 'Royal Charter Storm'. (Often cited as the event that led to the 'birth' of the UK Meteorological Office.)
1865: (late Spring):
1. April, May and June...persistently fine and WARM weather.
1868: (early Summer): ' A HUNDRED IN THE SHADE...? '
1. Persistently WARM weather by CET series over period May to July.
2. Although not accepted (because of problems of comparison between Glaisher and Stevenson screens), the MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE recorded on the 22nd July, 1868 at Tonbridge, Kent is still remarkable: 100.6 degF/(converted=38.1degC).
1.The WARMEST winter (by CET) in the series which began in 1659. Up to 1997, rank=1 Value=6.77; Dec=7.2, Jan=5.6, Feb=7.5 (Others: 1686, 1734, 1796, 1834, 1935, 1975, 1989 and 1990.)
1. WETTEST year for England and Wales in the EWP series. (1284.9mm for the EWP series.)
1878/79: (late Autumn/early Winter):
1. November to January..notably and persistently COLD by CET series.
1. The COLDEST winter in a Glasgow composite record from 1868. (2nd coldest was 1962/63) [ for the CET series, this *was* the coldest CET=minus 0.33, with the winter of 1878/79 coming seventh in the series at + 0.70degC.] (see 'Weather'August, 1963: pp226-228)
2. A VERY SNOWY winter / early spring November to April. Number of snowdays very large; in places in north there was 3 months cover.
1. Unusually unsettled and though to be comparable with worst years of the Little Ice Age; COLDEST year in London (?Kew) since detailed records first kept in 1841. A WET summer with large-scale collapse of agriculture.
1879: (late Spring/early Summer):
1. April to July...notably and persistently COLD by CET series.
1879: (Summer/early Autumn):
1. Notably WET period. The five months May to September, 1897 accounted for 580mm of RAIN by the EWP; circa 190%. The three 'high-summer' months of June, July & August each had nearly double average (1961-90) rainfall amounts and (up to 1999) was the second wettest summer in the EWP record. (Next time this wet in 1903; wettest summer in the series=1912).
1879/80: (late Autumn/Winter):
1. November to January .. notably and persistently COLD AGAIN (see above) by CET series. Compared with continental Europe (see 2. below), the winter was not so severe, but DEATHS from cold were reported and evergreens were killed. On the 4th December, 1879, the TEMPERATURE of (minus) 23degF (circa (minus) 31degC) was recorded at Blackadder, Berwickshire though this is not recongnised due to poor exposure and lack of certified instrument.
2. December 1879 was the COLDEST month of the 19th century in France & central Europe, and the cold persisted into January 1880; the Dutch waterways were FROZEN for nearly two months and in Paris, fifty people DIED of cold.
3. 28th December, 1879: THE TAY BRIDGE DISASTER
The original Tay Bridge (3km/1.85mi) railway crossing was the scene of a disaster during the evening when a section of the bridge was blown away in a STORM as a train was crossing over it. Circa 75 deaths. Some TORNADIC activity evident as waterspouts were observed in the vicinity.
1. An EXCEPTIONALLY DRY year by the EWP series: 669mm. [DRIEST in the series (up to 1998), were 1788 with 614mm and 1921 with 629mm. ]
1. Notably and persistently COLD by CET series.
1. The winter of 1890/91 was remarkable for its long duration, from 25th November to 22nd January, rather than for the intensity of the FROST. During this period the average TEMPERATURE was below 0 degC over nearly the whole of England and Wales and below (minus) 1 degC in East Anglia and the south-east Midlands. Skating in Regent's Park occurred on 43 days, the thickness of the ICE exceeding 9 inches (circa 23cm) but the FROST penetrated in the ground to a depth of only about 30cm. (CEPB): The synoptic pattern was dominated by a large anticyclone covering northern Europe with a marked ridge extending over southern England, giving almost continuous east or northeast winds.
1. 9-13th March 1891, easterly BLIZZARD**. Heavy, fine powdery SNOW and STRONG EASTERLY WINDS raged across SW England, southern England and Wales, with over half a million trees being blown down, as well as a number of telegraph poles. On the 9th (and later?), GREAT SNOWSTORM in the west of England, trains buried for days: E-NE GALE, shipwrecks, many lives lost. (Eden notes: 220 people dead; 65 ships foundered in the English Channel; 6000 sheep perished; countless trees uprooted; 14 trains stranded in Devon alone.) Although the West Country was the worst affected, southern England, the Midlands, and south Wales also suffered. SNOWDRIFTS were 'huge' around some houses in the London - would be accounted a most remarkable sight nowadays! A man was reported found dead at Dorking, Surrey, while SNOWDRIFTS of 3.5 metres were recorded at Dulwich, London and Dartmouth, Devon. At Torquay and Sidmouth, Devon over 30 cm of snow fell.
**This may be the first time in the UK that the word 'blizzard' was used. Thought to derive from a German expression: " Der sturm kommt blitzartig", which translates as "The storm comes/came lightning-like".
1893 (Spring/early Summer):
1. A notably DRY season over England and Wales. (see also 1990). Some places in SE England had no RAIN for 60 consecutive days, from mid-March to mid-May with the longest ABSOLUTE DROUGHT of all being at Mile End (London) from 4th March to 15th May. This (at 1993) is thought to be the longest period without measurable rain ever recorded in the British Isles. During the period March to June, in the SE of England some areas experienced less than 30% of average rainfall.
2. Notably persistent WARM weather over period April to June. The combined effect of the DROUGHT, above average TEMPERATURES and often intense/prolonged SUNSHINE meant that by the 21st of June, many agricultural areas of southern England and the east Midlands were undergoing great stress: the ground parched, meadows burnt dry with many crops declared a failure. Fruit was withering (not helped by some sharp/late FROSTS in May) and the hay crop was much reduced; root crops also severely affected. (See article R. Brugge, 'Weather' May 1993).
1. Exceptional COLD/WINTRY from 30/12/1894 to 05/03/1895. To horticulturists and ice skaters in East Anglia, it was the winter of the ' twelve week frost '. Records from Cambridge Observatory show that there were actually air frosts on 70 of the 84 nights between 26th December 1894 and 20th March 1895. The month of February 1895 stands out at Oxford as having the LOWEST AVERAGE MIN TEMP (minus 5.6 degC) and the highest number of GROUND FROSTS (27) for any February in the 113 years to 1993 at the Radcliffe Observatory. From the 9th to the 17th February the whole of the Thames was more or less blocked by ice-floes, some of them 6 or 7 feet thick.
2. Second COLDEST winter in a Manchester long-period record (from 1888), comprising Manchester (Prestwich) 1888-1900; Manchester (Whitworth Park) 1901-1941; & Manchester (Ringway) from 1942. The coldest winter was, as in many places in England & Wales, in 1962/63. However, in the CET series, the winter of 1894/95 did not appear in the top 7 cold winters, so the fact that Manchester stands out is interesting.
Data produced by Martin Rowley
See Wirksworth website, Extreme Weather
Compiled, formatted, hyperlinked, encoded, and copyright © 2008, John Palmer, All Rights Reserved.