I was lucky enough to get a Logosol Timberjigg for my birthday two years ago. Last year I got two ripping chains and bars (50cm and 63cm). Here’s what I’ve learnt so far.

Summary

  1. It’s fun and rewarding. For a few hours of work you can get a lot of valuable timber from what might otherwise have been burnt, chipped or left to rot.
  2. This is hot, heavy work. It’s also dangerous and dirty. You face ends up close to the chainsaw engine which is very noisy and you get to breath a fair amount of 2 stroke smoke and saw dust. A face mask is a good idea. Helmet, earmuffs, gloves, steel capped boots and chaps are essential.
  3. It’s ideal for small scale jobs e.g. salvage from awkward spots
  4. The Timberjigg is a, fast, flexible, low cost, low storage space, low learning curve way to make timber from wood.
  5. If you have more than a few trees to do per year and you can get access, hire a mobile milelr. It’s faster and there’s less waste.

Gear

  1. You need a big chainsaw. I have a Stihl 460 Magum. Any bigger would be quite heavy. Much smaller would be overworked. Any WoodBoss with 2 nuts should have enough grunt.
  2. Sharpen your chain often. At least once per log/billett.
  3. Use a second saw for felling, bucking and trimming. It will have a cross-cut chain and dog teeth.
  4. You have to remove the dog teeth on the milling saw so it’s not much good for serious cross-cutting.
  5. A ripping or picco chain makes it easier and faster and gives a better finish. If you use a cross-cutting (regular) chain you will only end up with fencing material. Get a ripping chain.
  6. You need much bigger screws and more sturdy guide rails than the manual and DVD suggest. I am using treated pine 6 x 1. I bought two 5.4m lengths and made one rail 2m long and the other 3.4. You also have to reinforce these about twice as much as the video suggests.
  7. The log should rest on two supports. These should have a diameter at least half the bar length. More is better on your back and safer. Cut two V shapped notches very close to one end. Wedge them to stop them rolling while you are working.
  8. A short bar is lighter and less likely to hit the ground, the supports or your leg.
  9. A long bar is good for slabbing and bigger logs.
  10. You will use a fair amount of fuel and oil. Take plenty.

 

Site

  1. You can do it on rough, slopping ground but it’s easier the flatter it is. A shady, level site with good access from all sides and a ute parked nearby as a workbench makes life a lot easier.

Trees

  1. It seems to be about as easy to saw gum as it is to do pine or Camphor Laurel. Acacia is harder and more likely to be full of dirt.
  2. You can’t cut logs that are too thin. It should be 25cm absolute minimum.
  3. There’s a lot of waste with the kerf of a chainsaw so make as few cuts as you need.
  4. The logs need to be fairly cylindrical. You are effectively making a 3 sided block to take boards from.
  5. You can’t cut logs that are too short. They tend to move as the saw moves through the log. I have found a 2m guide rail will cut up 1.8m logs nicely and is easy to build, handle and store.
  6. You can’t cut logs that are too long. It can only be as long as you make your guide rail. And if it’s too long you can’t move it around and lift it onto your support props. About 3.2 seems the practical maximum  log length for pine and I find even 2m of hardwood hard work to lift.

Technique

  1. Workout where the first flat cut will run. Trim the billet so that the ends are perpendicalar to that and parallel to each other.
  2. It’s easier to use the rail for the first cut then screw the rail onto that face for the second. That spoils at least part of the face of at least one board but you get a nice right angle.
  3. I also cut only two faces and leave the boards to dry as rough edge on one side. The reason is that I can remove that edge on a table saw and get a neater, straighter cut after the board is dry and thicknessed. It also adds more weight to the block you are cutting from so it’s more stable.
  4. Do more than one log at a time. It takes a while to get all geared up so I make the most of it. I fell, trim and crosscut leaving the billets the right length for the frame on one day. When I am ready to mill them, I make a day of it and save time packing and unpacking. It might take an hour to get to the site and get set up, half an hour to make your billet into a block but then only a few minutes for each board. If you have a few billets all the same size, work flows much smoother on the second and subsequent ones.
  5. Before each cut re-check that the knobs on the Timberjigg haven’t vibrated lose.
  6. Stop when you are thirsty, hungry or tired. Fix it before you start up again.

 

Results

  1. Unless it’s for rough outdoor use, the finish is not good enough with just the chain cut.
  2. Expect to have to use a planner / thicknesser once the timber fully dries. It will warp a little anyhow so cut a little oversize.
  3. Make sure you have plenty of room undercover to let your boards dry. And stack them well supported (at 300mm centres) by packers (2.5cm square) which you can use a table saw to cut out of your offcuts.

 

Queensland’s Fraser Island was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1992 —  eight years before Sarawak ‘s Gunung Mulu National Park.  The fight to have Fraser Island World Heritage listed though started in 1974 and was a major public debate for almost two decades prior to its recognition.  It is therefore surprising that once it was listed the Queensland Government has allowed it to become so degraded that some people are now arguing that it needs to be placed on the World Heritage in Danger List.

It isn’t that Fraser Island lacks the values that warranted its World Heritage listing in the first place.  It is just that the management values for Fraser Island are pre-occupied with recreation Management to the neglect of the protection of its World Heritage values.

Photos tell the story

  • On Fraser Island 4WD recreational vehicles rule all policy decisions even though environmental studies have conclusively shown the impact of the 4WDs in compacting sand in the substrate and thus accelerating water erosion.  The mobilization of sand as a result of this means that over a three year period more than a million tones of sand has been mobilized and sluiced down the slopes.  That means over a tonne of sand it relocated for every visitor to Fraser Island!
  • Some roads are now scoured down to a depth of 4 metres and they continue this on-going down-cutting every time it rains.  As little as 5mm of rain is more than enough to start mobilizing surface sand on roads.  Some of the sand is deposited lower down the slopes; other sand is being sluiced into the iconic perched dune lakes.
  • Some of the sand is deposited so that picnic tables begin to get buried and other picnic spots are being scoured out demonstrating the fragility and mobility of any disturbed soil surface on Fraser Island.
  • In 1963 Indian Head had a lawn of thick grass extending right to its summit.  Since then the unprotected surface soil has been disturbed but hundreds of thousands of feet.  This has been eroded and washed away by rain exposing an ever expanding area of bare rock. There are no plans to repair the damage or rectify this problem in the foreseeable future.
  • A disproportionate amount of the budget is spent on recreational facilities, visitor safety and management, waste management.  Road widening and upgrading has become an obsession. This focus has led to the neglect of research and the natural resource management, — environmental monitoring of wildlife and ecosystems, fire management, weed control, and quarantine.

The preoccupation with recreation management on Fraser Island is encouraging more and more visitors to visit Fraser Island in unsustainable ways.  Recreation is degrading Fraser Island’s World Heritage values including its iconic lakes.  Recreation management is at the expense of managing the island’s natural resources.  These suffer from lack of adequate monitoring.  No monitoring of the water quality in the lakes was done for a decade while road run-off continues to pour into the lakes impacting on water quality.

Fraser Island has less than one kilometre of boardwalks.  Queensland government policy prevents any feasibility into developing an environmentally more sustainable light rail people mover there.  Yet Mulu National Park in Malaysia, with exactly a tenth of the visitor number of Fraser Island puts Fraser Island management to shame.

How can Malaysia manage Mulu National Park so well for 35,000 visitors annually while Queensland fails to properly manage Fraser Island — an asset that attracts ten times the number of visitor?  Why does Queensland that fail to do enough to stop the degradation on Fraser Island while reaping the financial rewards and kudos for its World Heritage status?

About the Author

John Sinclair, one of Australia’s leading nature conservationists, has lead the fight to save Fraser Island since 1971 when he founded the Fraser Island Defenders Organisation.

In 1993 he was the recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize (Island Nations). In 1990 he received the United Nations Environment Program’s Global 500.

Photos of Fraser Island Management

Inspect Lake McKenzie Picnic Area

Inspect Lake McKenzie Picnic Area
 

Indian Head circa 1974

Indian Head circa 1974
 

Indian Head Degradation

Indian Head Degradation
 

Indian Head Degradation

Indian Head Degradation
 

 

Lake McKenzie Road after 5mm rain 19-April-2008

Lake McKenzie Road after 5mm rain 19-April-2008
 

Runoff draining to Lake Allom

Runoff Draining to Lake Allom
 

Road to Lake McKenzie

Road to Lake McKenzie
 

Road Widening 27-April-2004

Road Widening 27-April-2004
 

Roadwork 27-April-2004

Roadwork 27-April-2004
 

Fraser Island Pedestrian Down Cutting

Fraser Island Pedestrian Down Cutting
 

Location

Gunung Mulu National Park Sarawak

Malaysia

Gunung Mulu Gunung National Park in Sarawak, Malaysia is a stunning World Heritage site inscribed for both the enormity and magnificence of its limestone caves and for its enormous biodiversity.  At 52,865 hectares Mulu is about a third the size of Fraser Island yet it has tremendous biodiversity.  It has daunting biodiversity of both plants andanimals.  It list 3,500  vascular plants alone.  That is at least five times as many plant species as found on Fraser Island). I was surprised to see Angiopteris evecta growing right outside the HQ offices. The stunning and enormous limestone caves (Deer Cave has a roof 300 metres above the floor and you could fly a 747 into it) hold an inestimable number of bats (several million).

However it wasn’t the World Heritage values that made such an impression on me but the superb and sustainable management that the Malaysian authorities have established there.

  • There we no cars allowed in Mulu.  People have to walk although they can take a longboat ride on a river to visit some sites up-river.  The only motor vehicles I saw in the park were small motorcycles for staff to take their children to school.
  • The walkways are wide and substantial. I estimate that this Borneo park must have had at least 5 or 6 kms of boardwalk or proper paths that I walked on to get to the great World Heritage caves.  In fact we didn’t walk anywhere in Mulu that wasn’t on a substantial boardwalk or concrete path.
  • We stayed in accommodation provided by the Park.  We did three tours — Two cave tours and the 500 metre long tree tops walk.  All required a guide accredited by the park.  All were local indigenous Penans and they we very good
  • Although the park currently is reported to  attract only 35,000 visitors annually. That accords with what we saw, about 100 per day with most visitors spending 2-3 days there as we did.  Yet this developing country, Malaysia, has installed an infrastructure that shames the paltry or non-existent Queensland efforts to protect the integrity of Fraser Island.

Having visited more than 50 World Heritage sites I was most impressed to observe just how this country was able to manage and present a great National Park so sustainably and in a way that makes the management of Fraser Island, the World Heritage site I am most familiar with shameful.  A comparison of the photos of the two sites shows just what a contrast there is and yet the Queensland Government refuses to explore the options for people movers and has failed to develop adequate boardwalks on Fraser Island that would make visitation more sustainable.

How can Malaysia do so much so well for 35,000 visitors annually and Queensland that reaps the financial rewards and kudos for 350,000 visitors to Fraser Island fail to do enough to stop the degradation there? Worse, why are the Queensland and Australian Governments so indifferent to the degradation occurring on Fraser Island?

Photos from Gunung National Park

Mulu Boardwalks

Mulu Boardwalks

Mulu World Heritage Values

Mulu World Heritage Values

Mulu Park Head Quarters

Mulu Park Head Quarters

Mulu Park Tracks between Caves

Mulu Park Tracks between Caves

Mulu Park Discovery Centre

Mulu Park Discovery Centre

Mulu Park Deer Cave

Mulu Park Deer Cave

Mulu Park Tree Top Walk

Mulu Park Tree Top Walk

Dolphins at Dawn

About the photo

 

This image is simple and powerful. It captures a time and a place. I captured it because I was ready. The dolphins surfaced while I was waiting for the fog to lift to photograph the light house (just visible). I worked out where they’d come up next, waded out to there and waited. Luck was on my side.

 

How it was taken

 

The image is on Kodachrome 64 and shot using a Sigma APO 400mm f5.6 telephoto at f5.6 and a shutter of about 1/500th of a second. It was on apeture priority on a Petax Super A. I used a motordrive but only this shot (the first) worked. Exposure compensation was a +1 stop to allow the orange glow of the sun to come through. The meter in older SLRs was fairly heavilly centre weighted. Focus was manual and pre-focused where I guessed the dolphins would surface. I got wet shorts as I had to wade into the water to get the right angle to have them, the sun and the lighthouse and headland in the one shot. There’s no zoom on the lens so I had to compose based on what I had to work with and use my legs to zoom in to frame it.

 

 

The Island Stack

About the photo

Lawn Hill Gorge is in the Boodjamulla National Park in far North Western Queensland, Australia. There’s a spectacular gorge carved through the limestone with fantastic walks around the cliffs. One evening I was coming back well after sunset when the glow from the clouds on the horizon lit up the cliffs. It was so dark I had to steady the camera on a tree during the long exposure. Luckilly I had a very fast lens because I was using slow film. I used the trees in the foreground to frame the shot and exposed to saturate the colour in the cliff while leaving the trees black.

 

How it was taken

I used a Pentax Super A, 35mm SLR on manual. I removed the motordrive and steadied the camera against a tree trunk. Exposure was about 1/8 sec at f1.4 with Pentax SMC A series 50mm lens. I had no tripod but by holding my breath and using the tree the shot worked fine. Fortunately there was no wind to move the trees. The film was Kodachome 25. This was the best slide film ever made. There’s no grain and the colours are amazing plus it lasts in archive forever. It was scanned with a drum scanner.

 

Stradbroke Island Recreation

About the photograph

This image was taken in the afternoon of a winter’s day in 1990. It was too cold to swim so I took my camera for a walk instead.

How it was taken

The camera used was a Nikon F801 35mm film SLR. It was shot on Kodachrome 64 and drum scanned. I can’t recall the exact details but it was a 200mm telephoto shot at about f11 to give me a shutter speed of 1/250 sec or more. This was needed to freeze the splashes the boy was making while he was running. I had to shoot fast when the shot appeared and ran down the beach a little to get the sunlight on the rods. There was no exposure compensation and it was shot in apeture priority mode and manual focus.

 

Where it was taken

Cylinder Beach, North Stradbroke Island looking West towards the mainland. The colour is caused by the sun shining through smoke from fires in the pine plantations on Bribie Island.

Brisbane at Night – A Photographic Record

 

Brisbane came of age during Expo 88 and is now a vibrant city. As night falls you can head out to Kangaroo Point and the cliffs near the city to capture the river and the lights.

 

The images here are all from a Canon G3 (4MP) on a Manfrotto tripod on manual exposure. Images are up to 30 second exposures as you can see from the distances boats and cars are travelling during the shots.

I try not to use the minimum f-stop (in this case f2.0) at night as it leads to flare. Most of the shots were up to 2 stops overexposed. White balance is AUTO and the the ISO is set manually to 50.

Story Bridge

Story Bridge

Canon G3, 8secs @ f5.0, 55mm eq.

Admiralty Towers

Admiralty Towers

Canon G3, 15secs @ f4.5, 35mm

Botanic Gardens

Botanic Gardens

Canon G3, 57mm (35mm eq) 10 secs at f4.0

 

Riverside Place

 

Riverside Place

Canon G3, 8secs @ f3.5, 35mm

A Comparision of Serious Brushcutters

 

Who is this aimed at?

People with large rural blocks who want advice on the pros and cons of 2 stroke and 4 stroke brushcutters and their attachments.

Who is writing it?

I own 56Ha or 140acres of very fertile, wet land in the high rainfall belt of sub-topical south east Queensland in Australia. I grow trees. My property has a large number of weeds including woody weeds and tall rank pastures.

 

 

 

Safety Warning

These are powerful machines and you should always read the manual in full before using them. Follow all instructions and wear safety gear.

I will not cut without:

  • Sturdy boots (steel capped if using a chainsaw head)
  • Thick leg coverings such as jeans or overalls (chainsaw chaps if using a chainsaw head)
  • Safety glasses
  • Helmet with a visor and earmuffs or at least a hat and earmuffs

If you don’t think you need to wear this type of safety gear, you don’t need a machine like these.

 Demonstration of safety gear

2 Stroke vs 4 Stroke?

I have both. My 2 stroke is a Stihl FS450. The 4 Stroke is a Honda U425. In laymans terms the Stihl is a beast and the Honda is a medium machine. They each have their pros and cons. I’ve also used the Husqvana 325Rx 2 stroke machine which feels the lightest and more powerful than the Honda. Lets start with what they have in common.

Common Points 

Serious brushcutters : 

  • have straight shafts and bicycle handlebars.  Anything less is not a serious machine.
  • have comfortable harness (See photo)
  • take enough fuel to last for more than an hour of hard work.
  • are designed for use with a blade.

Specs of models I’m comparing.

It’s all about power and weight. These are all metric figures taken from the manufacturers website and are dry weights without cutting heads.

 

Basic Power to Weight comparison

 

Model

Power

Dry Weight

Stihl FS450

2.1 Kw

8kg

Honda UMK425 U4U

0.8Kw

6kg

Husqvarna 325Rx

0.9 Kw

4.8kg


Serious brushcutters side by side

 Main Differences 

2 Stroke

  • More powerful for same weight
  • Lighter for same power
  • Smelly
  • Noisy
  • More expensive to buy and run
  • You have to mix the fuel and if you get it wrong, you break the machine.

 

4 Stroke

  • Less power for same weight
  • Usually smaller and less powerful than the biggest two strokes
  • Cheaper to buy and run
  • Much quieter in idle. Probably more pleasant for observers to listen to
Close up of motors

 

 


Heads 

There are 3 basic types each with some variations.

Cord or Line Heads

Automatic or bump feed (photo)

Pro:
  • Easy to add release more line as it wears out
  • Best around things that a blade would damage e.g. paths, poles, caravans
  • Best when it’s very rocky or stony ground
Con:
  • Can’t use very thick line so you’re limited to ‘cosmetic’ work.

Manual feed (photo)

Pro:

Allows thicker cord that can get closer to matching it with a blade

Con:
  • It takes longer to replace than a bump feed
  • You have to replace the whole lot at once
  • You may have to take the brushcutter off and put it down to make the change
  • You may have to remove your gloves

Blades

 

Showing all cutting head types

3 Blade (photo)

Pro:
  • Best all round serious option – can handle anything
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • Heavy so you need a bigger machine
  • Requires sharpening on an angle grinder to make the best use
3 blade head

4 Blade Grass (photo)

Pro:
  • Absolute wiz at tall rank grass and woody weeds thinner than a finger.
  • Cheaper
  • Lighter
  • Easier to sharpen
Cons:
  • No good if it’s thicker than your thumb
4 pronged head - Grass Blade
 

Chainsaw Head (photo)

 Pro:
  • Best at woody weeds
  • Perfect for thickets of lantana
Con:
  • Expensive
  • Dangerous
  • Less control for direction of fall than a chainsaw
 
 

Weed Whacker (photo)

 Pro:
  • OK at most things
  • Saves your clutch
Con:
  • Expensive
  • Still clogs
  • Not for really tough going
 

 

What do I recommend?

Brushchutter?
  • The biggest, most powerful machine you can carry or that you are sure will get the job done (my view – I am 100kg and 187cm and attack the big ‘clearing’ jobs)
  • The smallest, least powerful machine you need to do the job you have to (my wife’s view – 50kg, 162cm and she does the repeat ‘maintenance’ jobs)
  • Too big is better than too small.
  • Any of these machines is great.
Head?

Get them all. They’re cheap. Use the one that best suits the job.

 

Brand / Store:

I will only buy from

  • a store that also services the things they sell
  • a specialist shop that can get you accessories and advise on the right one for the job
  • stocks more than one top shelf brand

 

 

Brushchutter?
  • The biggest, most powerful machine you can carry or that you are sure will get the job done.
  • Too big is better than too small.
  • Any of these machines is great.
Head?

Get them all. They’re cheap. Use the one that best suits the job.

 

Brand / Store:

I will only buy from

  • a store that also services the things they sell
  • a specialist shop that can get you accessories and advise on the right one for the job
  • stocks more than one top shelf brand