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How to Cut Down a Tree Using a Chainsaw

Updated on March 29, 2015

Cutting down a tree is serious business that should not be taken lightly. You will be using a chainsaw, which has its own, unique risks to do this job. The tree, itself, can also pose some serious risks, if you aren’t careful. Never take on this kind of job until you are absolutely certain about what you are doing. Take extra time during preparation, just to make sure that you don’t overlook anything related to the task at hand.

Here are the steps you should take to fell a tree with a chainsaw:

1. Start off right. Wear all the necessary safety gear, like goggles, work boots, a hard hat and gloves. Inspect the general work area and saw for potential problems. And make sure that you use the right saw for the job. If you are taking down a tree that is large in diameter, use a larger chainsaw.

2. Double check the tree and work area. Walk around the perimeter of the tree, looking high and low. Make sure you are familiar with the lean of the tree, and check the branches above for any tie ins to other trees in the area.

3. Check the lay. The lay is where the tree will fall. Make sure that there are no people, animals or objects in this area.

4. Have a way to escape. Clear a path at a 45 degree angle to get up and go, just in case something bad happens.

5. Make the first cut. This cut should be horizontal and approximately hip high. Cut in about 1/3 or the tree’s width.

6. Make the wedge cut. This cut will complete the face cut and should result in a wedge being removed from the tree. You can cut up or down, but make sure that you end at the same spot where your first cut stopped.

7. Make your back cut. This is the cut that will likely fell the tree. Start by marking on the side of the tree, exactly where you want the back cut to end. Stay lined up with the angle of the wedge cut and smoothly press in. You may have to put wedges in to keep the weight of the tree from pressing down on your chainsaw.

8. Keep your eyes open for movement and be ready to get out of dodge when the tree starts to move. This is where that escape route from earlier comes into play. Quickly move based on the way the tree is coming down. Keep your eyes on the tree the entire time and adjust your escape route accordingly.


Every time you fell a tree things will be different. For some scenarios, like that listed in this tutorial, the tree will go down once you near the end of your back cut. Other trees may require some more work and cutting on your part. Be sure to take time to assess the job thoroughly before you start to make the best plan of attack. Stay safe and keep your eyes open.


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