How to cut down a tree with a chainsaw: Step by Step

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In this blog post, I will discuss with you a simple yet comprehensive method of how to fell a tree using your chainsaw.

To cut down a tree with a chainsaw follow these Steps:

  • Step 1: Consider why you want to cut down the tree
  • Step 2: Decide which time of the year is ideal for cutting down your tree
  • Step 3: Get permission to cut down the tree from your local authorities
  • Step 4: Put on licensed and approved personal protection equipment (PPE)
  • Step 5: Ask your trusted assistant or friend to look for the animals and people in the surrounding area
  • Step 6: Find out the direction in which your tree will fall
  • Step 7: Clear out at least two escape routes
  • Step 8: Prepare your chainsaw
  • Step 9: Inspect all the parts of your chainsaw and make sure that they are functioning properly
  • Step 10: Start your chainsaw
  • Step 11: Make a directional notch
  • Step 12: Guide your tree when it falls
How to cut down a tree with a chainsaw: Step by Step 1

Step 1: Consider why you want to cut down the tree:

There can be several reasons to cut down a tree using a chainsaw. Sometimes a huge tree turns into an obstruction on your pathway. Sometimes you might need the wood for a utility such as creating furniture, creating planks or firewood.

You must remember that you must not cut down trees just for fun because they supply us with fresh oxygen and absorb the carbon dioxide present around us. They help with rainfall.

Step 2: Decide which time of the year is ideal for cutting down your tree:

If you want to cut down only a single limb or branch of your tree, then you must wait until the tree is fully dormant in the middle of the winter season, to make your cuts. The reason to prune your tree when it is fully dormant is that it will get enough time to heal up fully before the attack of the threatening pests. If you have extremely cold winters, you must wait until the coldest part of winter has passed before you prune your tree.

How to cut down a tree with a chainsaw: Step by Step 2

Step 3: Get permission to cut down the tree from your local authorities:

In many countries and states, it is strictly prohibited to cut down the trees by the environmental departments. If the tree is on your personal property then it is OK to cut it down without any permission. But if you are planning to cut down a tree on public land or on someone else’s private property, then you must have a documented permission, to show if any questions are asked.

Remember that if you break the rules and cut down the tree illegally, you will have to face a penalty.

Step 4: Put on licensed and approved personal protection equipment (PPE):

Whenever you are planning to cut down a tree with a chainsaw, it is very important to put on a helmet to prevent your head from getting any injury from the falling tree. You must remember that a chainsaw is very noisy, so you will need earmuffs to avoid any damage to your hearing.  Chainsaw chaps are really important to protect your legs from getting cut in case you drop the chainsaw.

You must also put on gloves, long sleeves, steel toe boots, face screen and goggles to prevent the dust from getting into your eyes.

Step 5: Ask your trusted assistant or friend to look for the animals and people in the surrounding area:

You should ask for the assistance of a trusted friend to ensure that there are no people or animals passing-by within the radius of the felling zone, which must be at least 2 times the length of the tree you intend to fell. Once the tree is cut and it is about to be fell, both of you must move out of its path. Both of you should shout “Timber”, to keep the passersby away from the felling zone.

Step 6: Find out the direction in which your tree will fall:

You must view the tree that you are cutting from all angles to find out if it leans in any one specific direction. If yes, you must determine whether it will damage your house, car, walls, patio, pergola, fences, driveways, sheds, or your neighbours’ surrounding property. Remember also, to determine that it will not fall back across your roof.

You must proceed with cutting down your tree with your chainsaw only if you are satisfied with its direction where it will fall. You should also consider the speed and direction of the wind when felling a huge tree because wind can alter the direction in which your tree falls.

You can estimate where a tree will fall by using the “axe handle trick.” It is how to fell a tree in the direction you want: you must hold an axe handle at an arm’s length, and then close one of your eyes, and then you must back away from or move toward the tree that you intend to cut down, until the top of your axe is even with the treetop and the bottom of your axe is even with the base of the tree. Your feet should be almost where the treetop will rest after falling.

This is a rough estimation, so you must always allow some extra room if there is something the tree might fall on

Step 7: Clear out at least two escape routes:

Even when you are 100% sure of the direction the tree that you intend to cut down with your chainsaw is going to fall, you are still not fully prepared to fell it. First of all, you must cut down any brush around the trunk of the tree and then you must clear 2 escape routes on the “non-falling” zone of the tree. Both of these escape routes should be about forty-five degrees apart from each other in opposite directions.

The last thing you want is to trip over when escaping the zone of a falling tree.

Step 8: Prepare your chainsaw:

Chainsaws with 18-inch bar normally have two-cycle engines which require a mixture of two-cycle oil and gas. You must make sure that your chainsaw is well lubricated.

Step 9: Inspect all the parts of your chainsaw and make sure that they are functioning properly:

Before you start the operation of cutting down a huge tree in the middle of woods, you must carefully observe all the parts of your chainsaw to find out if any repair, replacement or maintenance is needed. You must also make sure that the chain is sharp and tight.

Step 10: Start your chainsaw:

Start your chainsaw and allow it to run for a couple of minutes especially in the winter season, to allow it to warm up. You must push the oil button regularly because the chain must not get dry under heat.

Step 11: Make a directional notch:

You must chainsaw upwards about halfway. You must hold it completely horizontal, then you must make a cut from the side in about one-third of the diameter of the tree. Then, go up about three to four inches above that cut: pick an imaginary line that will start just above your first cut, and maintain forty-five degrees all the way down, (an angle cut) to where the horizontal cut stopped.

You must not move your chainsaw any further. This is how you create your wedge piece, which needs to be removed.

For very large trees, the process is quite similar but because the diameter of the tree trunk is larger than the length of your chainsaw bar, a plunge cut will be required. It means that you must cut the directional notch from both sides of the tree trunk. If the bar of your chainsaw gets stuck in the tree trunk, instead of trying to pull it out, you need to stop its engine and use a wedge to work open the tree trunk until you are able to pull it out easily.

You may also have to hammer the wedge into place in order to get the tree to start falling.

Step 12: Guide your tree when it falls:

You can assist the tree in falling along your desired zone by roping it and tying it securely with at least a half an inch rope tied two-third of the way up the trunk of the tree. You must hook that rope to a come-along hand-winch that is tied to an even larger tree. But you must keep in your mind that the larger tree should be far enough that your tree will not fall into it.

When you start cutting down the tree, ask your friend or assistant to start cranking the come-along to maintain pressure toward your targeted zone. You can use 2 wedges, alternatively. Once your chainsaw blade is well into that cut (far enough along so the wedges will not hit the bar of the chainsaw) you must begin to drive them in equally behind the chainsaw blade.

You must keep your eyes glued to the tree as it is being cut. If it leans one way more than the other and that takes it off the path, you must pound the wedge on that side in a bit more. You must try to keep the wedges even so the tree falls evenly.

Final remarks

To sum up this blog post, I would say that you must never stand directly behind the falling tree. As it might break loose from its trunk and “kickback”, causing extreme damage to your property or even death to the cutters.