An often recited mantra in bushcraft is that the more you know the less you have to carry. The flip side of this, of course, is that the less you carry the more you have to make. Often the things I find myself making require greenwood and so need to be pruned from a live tree. For example, when making a pot hanger. It’s incumbent on all of us to give the tree the absolute best chance of recovery when we’re pruning.
In the photo below you can see where I’m taking an upright stem from a coppiced hazel stool. First off I sawed about 1/3 of the way through from the front and then made a second cut a little way above and on the opposite side. This ensures that the bark doesn’t end up being torn and exposing the cambium layer to potential infection.
And then I finished it off with a cut at an angle so that any rain will run away from the coppice stool and hopefully reduce the chance of rot setting in.
It might seem a lot of work but I believe that we should all be enjoying our bushcraft responsibly and sustainably so that others can get the same enjoyment as I do and that means doing things properly.
I use a similar technique for pruning a horizontal branch. There was a time when branches were pruned in flush with the main trunk but this is now known to make it difficult for the tree to recover, so instead leave a nub protruding.
First make a cut from the underside of the branch, about a 1/3rd of the way through, this will act as a ‘stop cut’.
Then make a second cut from the top of the branch a little further away from the main trunk. Now when the branch drops down under its own weight, the stop cut will prevent the bark from tearing off.
And then tidy up by making a third cut.