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Tree Pinning: The Art of Silent Tree Spiking

NOTE: This methods described in this file have not been tested by ME. It has been taken from an EARTH FIRST! guide. It is not a word for word copy of what’s in the book, but I have added very little of my own principals. Although _I_ have not tested this, you can be sure that the author of the original article has, and that it works. -EM

Okay. This file is intended for all those who have read and practised my The Begginners Guide to Tree Spiking. If you have not read that file, you can pick it up from this site. I reccommend that you read it before attempting anything discussed in this file. Plus, if I must say so myself, it’s damn good, and a refreshing change from HOW TO KILL A CAR, VOLUME 20002. (Not that I like cars mind you… But more on that in later files 🙂

Assuming you have read and tried the methods described in the first file, you are probably wondering about noise. True enough, if tree-spiking becomes popular in an area, security measures will be employed to see that it stops. Even the DUMBEST cop will be able to recognize the CLANK CLANK CLANK of your hammer as being a bad thing. (Whether or not he can bring himself to put down his donut and investigate, that’s a different story. 🙂

This file discusses methods of getting the spikes into the trees without making any noise. These methods require that you be somewhat more covert about your actions, and are careful not to get caught. Some yahoo is gonna read this file and ignore this key statement. He’ll end up getting busted and point his finger at me. Sooooo:

“The author does not condone or reccomend the use of any of the techniques outlined in this file.”

There it is, your typical disclaimer… Heh.

Anyways, on with the file.

If you’ve been stopping the freddies with your tree spiking for long enough, they’re gonna be getting pissed of. They’re slow learners, but when they start to loose money, they’ll be more careful. You can be sure that after about a week of spiking, they’ll be looking for us eco-freaks. But we can’t give them a rest, ’cause as soon as we stop spiking, they start milling. Here’s one way to get around this problem.


Drill – As you’re gonna be in the middle of the woods, you’ll need either a VERY long extension cord, or a cordless drill. The old pro’s at Earth First! reccommend the Black & Decker model 9020 or 1940. The 9020 will only drill about 15 – 25 holes, while the 1940 drills twice that many holes and has a removable battery pack. Still, you can buy several 9020’s for the price of one 1940. Other drills of course will work, but test them for torque and longevity before you hit the field.

Drill Bits – Use only “Twist” bits. The type used for drilling through metal. The fissures and pits on these bits pull saw-dust back up out of the hole, reducing the possibility of a jam or break. The bit should be about 4 inches to 6 inches long.

Apron – A simple cloth apron makes a good holder for pins, and will allow you to wipe your hands clean.

Pins – At a welding supply store, buy inch steel welding rod. It comes in 36 inch lengths, two rods per pound. Cost’s about $1.50 to $2.50 per pound. Use a hack saw to cut the rods into 3 and 4 inch lengths. Make a few of about 2 inches. The quantity depends on the number of trees you wish to pin. Keep in mind that extra’s lying about are as good as finger-prints in an investigation.

Saftey Goggles – Wear ’em! You’re eyes are important when you’re running from the cops. Use the type that doesn’t restrict side-vision.

Clean Rags – Used to make sure equipment is finger-print free.

Silicon Caulk and Gun – You know, that clear stuff for sealing around windows. (Good for jamming locks too.. But more on that later)

Smaller “ram rod” – Should be just slightly thicker than a coat hanger. About 6 to 8 inches long.


As with spiking, this is easiest to do during the day, but the fact that you have to use this method at all indicates that a night visit may be in order. (Heh) Pick your clothing wisely. Nothing flashy, but nothing too conspicuous. If you’re working during the day, then wear “earthy” tones, at night, try to avoid jet black. Stick with the dark colours, but avoid all black. (The temptation will be there to dress up like a ninja. While this provides camoflouge at night, it is very conspicuous) Someone who sees a person wearing all black and a ski mask sneaking into the forest is gonna remember it. If someone, however, sees a nice looking young man/woman going into the woods for an evening stroll, it’ll be out of their minds before they reach their front porch. They might not even remember if questioned about it in a day or two. Oh yeah, back to the method.

1) Drill a hole in the tree on a slightly downward angle at about eye level. (As with spiking, the higher up the tree, the better) Make the hole about 4 inches in diameter. If there is a knot in the way, don’t force it, just use a smaller pin. (That’s why you have the 2 inch pins) Your drill bit should be slightly bigger around than your pins.

2) Fill the bottom part of the hole with caulk. This will hold the pins in place and prevent them from being pulled out by a magnet or other means.

3) Put a pin into the hole. Tap it down with the ram rod. Make sure it is at the bottom. If the hole is over 4 inches in length, use a 4 inch pin. As a general rule, adjust the size of the pin for the depth of the hole.

4) Put a dab of caulk on the end of the hole. Enough to cover it up. This will seal the hole from insects or infection. Place a chip of bark in the hole to cover it up. It has been suggested that you should break off part of a branch inside the hole, that way, when the tree is de-barked, it will appear as a knot, as opposed to a plastic-filled hole.

Field Notes:

That’s it! SOOO much simpler than spiking, and a lot quieter. Here a few suggestions and hints.

  • Make sure that every piece of equipment is free of finger- prints, not just the pins. If you are forced to abandon something, you don’t want your prints on it.
  • This method is useful after the trees have been scanned for metal. Sneak in at night, after the metal scanning process and pin a few trees.
  • To be even quieter, use a brace and bit type drill. This requires more manual labour (obviously), but provided it is well oiled, it is next to silent.
  • Make sure you leave no evidence. This should be done in team of 2 or three, with one look out while one pins. Once again, the pick-up drop off method is the best form of transportation. A towel can be placed on the ground around the base of the tree to catch saw-dust.
  • Make sure you either use or get rid of all the pins at once. Extra pins laying around your house can get you in serious trouble should you be investigated. For added security, alternate between welder’s supply rods and the threaded, zinc-coated rods found in most lumber yards. You want each attack to look like it was done by a separate team.
  • With this method, you can use non-metallic pins. The ultimate way to baffle the metal detectors. To make ceramic pins, use stoneware clay. Make sure that you don’t leave a trail of names and adresses when buying it. Also make sure that it is completely free of iron oxide, as it might trip the detectors. When moulding the clay into pins, wear gloves. The pins must be fired to “cone 10”. This requires a kiln temperature of about 2400 degrees Fahrenheit. Finding a kiln capable of these temperatures won’t be easy, but use your head.
  • Be careful. And if you get caught, you didn’t hear it from me.

I would appreciate any comments or triumphs involving this method. I am especially interested in hearing from an Earth Firsters! out there. That’s the end of it.. I hope to continue releasing files. I have many idea’s beyond the eco-freak (or eco-phreak.. heh) files, so keep an eye open.

The contents of this file were taken without consent from the Field Guide to Monkeywrenching, second edition. It was edited (the book, not the file) by Dave Foreman and Bill Haywood. Incedently, the third edition was released last summer, and if you look hard enough in the southern states, you’ll find it. You might be able to order a copy. Published by Ned Ludd Books.

That’s all folks.

Working together for a blue sky…

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