Guide: How to Fell a Tree

If you’ve got a tree that’s blocking light, or just past its best, chances are you’re thinking of removing it.

With the right equipment, a few safety reminders and following chainsaw protocols, you can fell a tree with relatively little difficulty.

Chainsaw user showing how to fell a tree

Read on for our guide on how to fell a tree.

Safety First

This cannot be stressed enough – used improperly, chainsaws are lethal pieces of equipment and can cause fatalities.

Step 1 is read and follow the safety instructions that come with your particular chainsaw. All models are slightly different and electric and gas models are maintained in different ways. Make sure yours is well maintained and safe to use.

A few basic chainsaw safety reminders are:

  • Wear a helmet with face screen and ear protectors
  • Use steel toe-capped boots
  • Long-sleeved shirt, gloves and safety chaps
  • Avoid the kickback zone
  • Be clear on your felling strategy before you begin
  • Don’t cut a tree with a trunk diameter wider than the length of the saw

If you’re lacking any of these crucial supplies, check out our guide on the safety kit you should own by clicking here.

Do not attempt to fell a tree without first following these points!

Site Survey

Thoroughly check the area around the tree you want to fell.

Make sure there are no obstructions – people, animals, buildings or cables that could be snagged. You need to check the area around the tree equal to its height.

If you have concerns such as needing to fell the tree away from its lean, obstructions or have a rotten tree, do not attempt to fell it. Get professional help.

Decide which way you want the tree to call and make sure that you plan an escape route in the opposite direction to the fall.

Making the Cut

You need to make three cuts to fell a tree – the initial two cuts to make a notch on the side the tree will fall and a third cut through from the opposite side.

The first cut (on the side the tree will fall towards) is a downward cut. Carefully take the chainsaw down a 70 degree angle. Use the felling sight on the chainsaw to guide you as you make the cut.

The cut should be to a depth of about a quarter of the width of the tree.

Then make a second horizontal cut that will meet the first cut. In doing this you will cut a notch into the side of the tree that will help it to fall in the direction you want.

Now for the felling cut

Now go to the other side of the tree. This is your felling cut, so be prepared to move along your escape path as the tree falls.

Make a horizontal cut in line with the bottom of the notch. Do not cut all the way through. If the trunk has a wide diameter you can use a wedge to keep the cut open as you cut through the final part.

Leaving the last ten percent as a hinge, remove the chainsaw and retreat along the escape path as the tree falls.

The Bottom Line – How to Fell a Tree

We can’t stress it enough – before starting any project, have the full protective gear, a well-maintained chainsaw and know how to use it properly.

Make your cuts only when you are confident it will fall safely and your escape path is clear.

If you’re not sure what chainsaw you need for your tree felling project, help is at hand. Here is our comprehensive chainsaw buyers guide.

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