Back in March 2022 Stihl released a new bit of kit that I’ve found incredibly helpful: The Advance ProCOM. If you’re interested in the full spec and description, you can read it HERE. In brief though, the ProCOM is a set of ear defenders that doubles as a communication tool. It’s tailored specifically to the needs of professionals working in forestry and tree maintenance, and allows up to 16 people to be connected at any time. I really enjoy mine and consider them an essential part of my kit now. If you’re interested in knowing more about them, these are some of the reasons I use the Stihl ProCOM…
The first of the reasons I use the Stihl ProCOM is safety. It’s incredibly important to have good health and safety practice when using power tools, and even the most basic chainsaw carving kit should include ear defenders. This particular headset is rated SNR 31 so essentially it reduces noise by around 30 decibels.
While I’m talking about the spec, it’s a good time to mention it also has an IP 64 rating. If those numbers don’t mean much to you (you’re not alone!) it means they’re fully dust tight and protected from water splashing from any direction. Like working in the rain in the Elan Valley (picture below)!
The headset is really comfortable to wear, which makes a big difference as we’re wearing them for hours at a time. One of the problems which commonly occurs with wearing ear defenders is finding eye protection with flat arms that don’t put pressure on your temples when worn under ear defenders. The new Function Slim Glasses are a great solution to this and you get a proper seal around the headset.
The advantage of the ProCOM over other ear defenders is that it’s also a communciations system. It allows me to speak at a normal volume and still be heard (and hear) while operating a noisy chainsaw! This is actually the key to several of the reasons I use the Stihl ProCOM.
One of the benefits of this easy communication has been that Paul and I can more easily work together on large projects. For example, when moving and lifting large pieces of timber. Or when we made the Buster Sword Tree. Paul was my ‘spotter’ for some of the big cuts with the big saws in the beginning. He was able to tell me where the long bar was emerging from the wood as I was actually cutting. Super helpful!
Another huge benefit to being able to communcate easily while carving (and one of the reasons I use the Stihl ProCOM) is coaching.
Paul started as my apprentice many years ago. As a talented artist he had huge potential, but was a beginner when it came creating sculptures with chainsaws. Not unsurprising – sculpture with a chainsaw is not exactly on the GCSE art syllabus or anything! It’s been a pleasure to train him and now work alongside him and see him really come into his own as an artist.
Part of that coaching has been talking him through techniques and ‘how to’s’ while he’s actually doing it. The ProCOM allows us to do that much more easily than the other walkie talkies I’ve tried.
ROCK THAT PLAYLIST!
Do you like to listen to something while you work? Me too! The bluetooth feature means you can link the headset to your device and keep going with that playlist while you carve, at a volume that’s comfortable for you.
What’s on my current playlist while I work?
It’s varied, and I also often go down a rabbit hole of suggestions from whatever app I’m using. At the moment, these are some current favourites though…
Podcasts: Worst Foot Forward, You’re Dead To Me, Have A Word, Evil Genius, Rex Factor, and Totalus Rankium… a mixture of comedy, history, and a mix of both!
Audio books: currently listening through all the Discworld stories from Terry Pratchett
Music: includes Blues, Rock/Indie, Trip-hop/House, and Jazz (yes, it’s eclectic!)
PUT THE KETTLE ON!
“Have you seen the thingummyjig?”
“What time’s that meeting this afternoon?”
“Fancy a brew?”
Let’s be honest, these are the important questions we ask our co-workers every day! Especially the last one!
When working in a noisy studio or good distances from each other though (like the Elan Valley trail below where you can see the distance between work sites), asking something simple can take a lot of time.
You put your tool down, walk to the other person, catch their attention, they stop what they’re doing and then you can chat. Using a system like the ProCOM takes away some of that difficulty and means we can chat, ask questions more efficiently and – very importantly! – offer a timely cuppa with ease. Definitely one of the key reasons I use the Stihl ProCOM!
SHOULD I GET A SET?
So, having read the reasons I use the Stihl ProCOM, it’s probably obvious that I’m a fan! They’re the quality you would expect from Stihl, tick all the boxes for standards/safety requirements, and elevate the experience of working solo or alongside others. In all honesty, if you mostly work alone, Stihl (and others) offer alternatives that may suit you better at a lower price point. However, if you do work alongside others or are looking to upgrade your ear defenders, then these are well worth the investment. A year after they launched and I wouldn’t be without them!
I hope you’ve found this helpful. Are there other tools/equipment I use that you’d like to know more about?
Or are you interested in commissioning a sculpture?
If so, I’d love to hear from you!
Get in touch using the form at www.treecarving.co.uk/contact/