Preparing For Winter By Cutting Up Trees

I have been threatening to trim back and cut down the trees in my yard (mostly cut down) for several years. It’s already starting to cool down and I decided to get on it before it’s too late. It’s only been a threat because I wanted to rent a chipper but chippers are expensive and I finally gave up on that idea and started cutting things down and putting the waste in the back part of my lot. Out of sight and out of mind.

Pile of cut up trees

The big project was cutting down a large branch on what I think is a Elm tree. This kind of tree can be seen throughout older neighborhoods of Rio Rancho and Albuquerque and they all seem to have the same problem, whole limbs off the main truck just die off.

On my tree, the main limb that hangs over the patio died off. The dead limb with all its sub branches make for great bird perches in which the birds then crap all over my patio. It also makes a mess with twigs all over the place as the whole thing slowly breaks up.

View of the dead limb off a elm tree

The plan was to cut off the main branch without it falling onto the house. I did the cutting with a reciprocating saw and a 9″ pruning blade and a friend pulled on the branch with a rope so it would fall away from the house.

It didn’t quite go as planned (and I should have had video). I wasn’t able to tie the limb high enough and pulling it with the rope wasn’t effective at moving it away from the house fast enough. The top of the limb partially hit the roof and the glass table. Luckily the limb and branches were dead and dried up and they broke apart when they hit the roof and patio furniture.

Dead elm tree limb that was cut down

I cut up the Elm branch into small pieces and they will be used as firewood this winter. The rest of the trees that I cut down will sit in the backyard and allowed to dry out. Most of it is from pine based trees, so they are not suitable for burning inside but may see use in the outdoor fire pit.

Pile of logs cut from the elm tree limb

Several years ago there was a huge fire in the bosque near the Rio Grande in Albuquerque. After the fire they cleared the trees and I have some of the wood from project. The wood was far away from the house, too much of a pain to access during the winter. I moved all of that wood near the house and cut up the larger pieces with the reciprocating saw, some if still needs splitting but it should be plenty for this winter.

Wood pile brought closer to the house

I exclusively used my Dewalt reciprocating saw
for all this cutting and it amazes me how well a refurbished tool that I bought over 12 years ago works like it’s brand new. I was able to fully test out the Dewalt DC9180 18 Volt Nano Tech lithium ion battery pack and it performed exactly as advertised. It provided full power thought multiple cuts until it just stopped. It wasn’t as fast as a chain saw would have been but it did cut through everything I asked with constant power including a few logs larger than the 9 inch blade. I would guess I could get about 6 to 8 cuts between charges and it would charge in about 30 minutes, which provided breaks for me.

There are still some larger logs that I may try to cut with a small chainsaw if I can find one to borrow.

Large logs that may require a chain saw to cut

Of course my cat Saturn was happy to supervise the project from the bedroom window making occasional recommendations.

Saturn supervising the tree trimming from the window.

Radiant Floor Heating Elements Installed

This was a long work week. 4 x 12 hour shifts and workouts afterwards meant I had little energy left at the end of the day to work on the master bathroom. With the weekend here I finally was able to complete the installation of the heating elements.

The first step was cleaning the living piss out of the floor. I’m installing an insulating layer, which the manufacture of the heating system says will improve heat transfer. It’s not required but I would like to try to use this as the primary heating system for the house. (One Project Closer did this same project and there’s some debate in the comments on whether or not insulation is needed. They went without the insulation.)



The insulating materials is a dense closed cell foam that’s about 1/8″ think. It has a black plastic mat on the under side and attaches to the floor like contact paper. I have to first put a tacky glue on the floor and let it set for about 20 minutes.


If I was experienced at this, I could have cut the mat in one or two sections and applied it all at once. But I’m not so I cut it into small pieces and applied it to the floor a little at a time. It was much easier that way.

Installing the heating elements was a little more involved. Not only did I need to cut it, I had to do some manual wire layout where the floor was not square in front of the shower.

Since I will be embedding the elements in self leveling concrete, it’s important that they are anchored onto the floor so they don’t float up in the SLC.

The heating element is sewn onto the green mat but the round edges are not. They can easily stick out and have to be glued down. The manufacturer recommends using hot glue, a procedure I tried. After about a half hour and when I ran out of glue I thought there had to be a better way. There’s no way I can do this when I do the much larger master bedroom.

I found double-sided carpet tape at Lowes. I taped the green mat to the floor then taped the rounded edges to the mat. Not only does the double sided tape do a better job of holding down the mat it’s a lot faster and easier to put down.

Next up is to lay the self-leveling concrete. Concrete is still kind of magic to me and SLC is just that much more of magic. I will definitely need help with this part.