Pulling Up Small Trees, the Easy Way.




About: Woodsman and field tutor on a week day. Life long inventor, designer, engineer for the rest of the time. From items that make life easier to items with no reason to be....other than the idea popped into my h...

Over recent years all my local woodland and my garden have become home to vast numbers of holly bushes. Holly being evergreen will swamp out any other plants and take over the whole area if left unchecked, it needs to be kept under control.

I will pull by hand anything up to around 18" tall as these come easily bringing the roots with them.  Larger trees get the chainsaw or bow saw treatment.... trouble is these ones will regrow as the roots remain in the ground.

In the middle are small trees up to 2" grirth and 6 foot tall that are too big to pull by hand but tempting to try... this usually ends with an aching back.

A device was needed to remove small trees with little effort. A look on line came up with a number of different ideas that ranged in cost from around £100 to £250.  Being a cheapscate I decided to build my own!

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Step 1: Tree Puller From Scrap.....

..or how to pull up trees with a plumbers spanner (stilsons), for this is what I based my design around!

Second hand stilsons are easy to find and very cheap to buy, especially when, like the one I used, the stilson is incomplete.
As it did not have its adjustment nut it was a freebie :)  Once modified this will grip the tree.

Step 2: The Basics

Like any device that is designed to pull or lift its efficiency is down to the amount of leverage it uses againgst the item to be pulled or lifted.

The design has a gripping device to grab the tree, a heel to pivot on and a long handle to pull back so lifting the roots out of the ground.

The closing of the jaws on the tree will have a 25 to 1 ratio, the levering of the roots out of the ground has a 6 to 1 ratio allowing an easy pull of between 1/4 to 1/2 ton!

There are some large forces involved in this construction but as long as my welding holds up it should work OK.

Step 3: Construct the Jaws

The stilsons were 24" long, I cut the handle into 3 pieces, the short end to the right will become the jaw closing lever pivot, middle section will be discarded.
The rectangular tube section is the cross piece that everything will mount from.

I drilled and tapped the end of the handle to allow for an M12 stud to hold the pieces together and tack welded the pivot in place.

A slot was milled into the rectangular tube and a hole drilled in the back.

A trial assembly is shown In the 4th picture which also shows the pivots for the bottom of the lever socket.

Step 4: Handle Socket and Pivot

For ease of construction I used a garage door hinge that I had knocking around doing nothing.
Second picture shows it attached to a short length of rectangular tube that will be the lower end of the lever handle. (it also shows a temporary connecting crank that was used to check the geometry of the linkage.
Last picture Georgie surveys the work so far......

Step 5: Leverage

A long lever was constructed, made from two lengths of square tube welded together to form a good fit into the lower hinged part, second photo gives an idea of the height.

At this point I went down the garden and took out loads of trees.... and completely forgot to photograph what I was doing !
I went for bigger and bigger trees until I bent the temporary crank.

Photo 3 shows the replacement crank... and the welded joint that I broke the next time I overdid it....it is all down to learning the limitations of the device.

Step 6: Make It More Portable

One thing that became obvious when moving this up and down the garden, it is heavy.

I had an old golf trolly knocking around which after some work gave up a pair of quick release wheels and mounts, The metal parts were welded to the lever assembly.

Due to the forces involved the wheels need to be removed when the tree lever is being used but they make wheeling it about from place to place a doddle.

Step 7: Finishing It Off.

A couple of views of it painted up and broken down to fit in the car for transpotation to my place of work where it will be well tested.

I will upload some pictures of it in action as soon as I can.....maybe a video will make an appearance as well.

Step 8: Video

As promised, a video may be found here.....

You may notice an extra piece of metal flom the front of the wrench to the crank, this is just a bit of extra stiffening.

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    11 Discussions


    1 year ago on Step 8

    im sure u

    youve heard great job already, but hey, you really shined her up good, looks handy. your also very clever i think. grate job!


    1 year ago on Step 8


    It's not going to help me pull out half a dozen African Mahogany saplings this week, though.


    6 years ago on Step 8

    You Archimedes you. Nicely done.


    6 years ago on Step 3

    It'd be nice to see the thing in action.....and to see how big a small tree it can handle. I am not sure it is sufficiently broken down, step by step, to constitute an instructable, though.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    this is awesome,, great job coming up with the idea. Simple, effective and totally usfull. EXCELLENT

    ring light

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Nice project.
    Our yard is a popular spot for buckthorn trees and misplaced oak trees.
    I have a similar project in mind but am still looking for the critical piece (hiding in a box): a large Jumar ascender. Used in mountain climbing, the one I have is on the obsolete side; maybe twenty years old. Very strong and beefy. The end result would be the same as yours except the gripping action would be vertical along the trunk.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This idea is taken from the Weed Wrench.

    It would be nicer to state that this is a DIY version of another inventors invention.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    TBH I didn't know it was, I thought I had adapted a victorian design I saw used at a local wood fair a couple of years ago.....
    I did see the weed wrench when I was looking online at prices but the idea for the design was already fixed in my mind by then.
    You have made the link now so good luck with your product, I will not be going into production with mine :)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Been looking for good plans for this type of device. Careful, that's poison ivy under the holly!