How to Safely Fell a Tree with a Chainsaw: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Are you looking to fell a tree with a chainsaw, but don’t know where to start? It can be a daunting task, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to fell a tree safely with a chainsaw. With our comprehensive guide, you’ll have the confidence to take on this project with ease! So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started! 

Overview of felling a tree with a chainsaw

Cutting a tree or also known as felling a tree, is an important yet simple task that’ll require careful planning and some degree of skill. Trees that are too high, have diseases, or are damaged can be dangerous to people, animals, other trees, and buildings. You must be aware of the dangers of cutting down such trees. Preferably, it is a task that must be left to trained professionals. However, if the tree is in your backyard and in a manageable size, you might decide to tackle the job yourself.

Even though cutting them down is wise, you must use extra caution when you’re taking them down. A tree that is hollow might not be safe for non-professionals to remove. You must avoid cutting down a tree yourself if power lines, fences, fences, or other houses fall within the felling zone.

how to fell a tree with a chainsaw

Safety precautions to consider before felling a tree

Whether you are felling trees for landscaping in your backyard or simply for cutting firewood for the winter, safety shouldn’t be neglected. You must take proper safety precautions and wear protective equipment, as they’re the most important aspects of safe chainsaw use.

Here is the list of safety equipment that you must wear when using a chainsaw – 

  • Safety glasses –They’ll keep dust and wood chips from entering your eyes
  • Ear protection – Running a chainsaw without hearing protection could result in temporary or even permanent hearing loss
  • Steep-toed boots – Boots will protect your feet from injuries while also giving you added stability
  • Chainsaw chaps – Chaps will allow you to prevent any injuries if the chainsaw accidentally comes in contact with your leg
  • Safety helmet – A helmet will protect your head from falling objects or debris
  • Gloves – Gloves will give you added comfort and grip while protecting your hands from flying wood chips

Preparation to carry out before felling a tree

When you have to fell a tree using a chainsaw, there are a few important steps that you will need to carry out before you can get started with the actual cutting. You will need to inspect your chainsaw and check its condition before you can start with the cutting. Further, you must also make sure that you’re prioritizing your safety when you’re working with a chainsaw.

Visually inspect your chainsaw

The first step when it comes to preparing before felling a tree would be to inspect the condition of your chainsaw visually. Check for signs of potential damage like cracks in the chainsaw body, worn-out chainsaw blade teeth, and more. Moreover, you should make sure that the chainsaw’s air filter and fuel tank are clean and free of any debris.

Check the chain tension

The chainsaw’s chain tension should be adjusted appropriately to prevent the chain from accidentally slipping or coming off during the cutting. The chain tension needs to be tight enough to avoid sagging, but loose enough that it can move easily around the bar. A smart rule of thumb would be to make sure that the chain can be slightly lifted from the bar.

Sharpen the chainsaw blade

A dull chain blade can make the entire felling process much more challenging and increase the risk of kickback. Kickback is undoubtedly one of the most common causes of chainsaw-related injuries. Before you fell a tree, it’ll be important to sharpen the chainsaw blade to make sure that it is as sharp as possible. Make use of a chainsaw file guide for maintaining the correct angle and depth when sharpening the chainsaw blade.

Check the fuel

Before you start the chainsaw, it’ll be important to check the fuel level and make sure that the fuel is the right mixture for the chainsaw. If you aren’t sure of the appropriate fuel-oil ratio, you must check the owner’s manual of your chainsaw.

Put on safety gear

When you are felling a tree, it’ll be important to wear the appropriate safety gear. This will include a helmet to protect your head, earmuffs or earplugs to protect your ears, gloves to protect your hands, and safety glasses for protecting your eyes. Moreover, you should also wear chaps, a jacket, and other protective clothing to prevent any injuries to your body.

how to fell a tree with a chainsaw

Establish a felling plan before the felling

Felling a tree using a chainsaw is an extremely dangerous job, and it requires careful planning and execution. Establishing a felling plan before you start the felling process is crucial to carry out the task safely and efficiently. Here is how you should establish a felling plan for taking down a tree – 

#1. Evaluate the tree and the surroundings

The first step in establishing a felling plan would be to evaluate the tree and the surroundings. Take note of the size, height, and lean of the tree as well as the slope of the ground. Moreover, look out for any obstacles in this area. This information will also help you determine the right direction for the tree.

#2. Plan your escape route

Before you start cutting, you will have to plan your escape route if the tree falls in any unexpected direction. Once you have evaluated the tree and the surroundings, you will have to look in the direction in which that tree leans. Select a clear felling zone, and it should be in the direction the tree is leaning. Choose a 45° upslope angle as the felling zone in case the tree is leaning upslope. Meanwhile, pick a 45° downslope angle as your felling zone in case the tree leans downslope. 

#3. Clear the felling zone

You will need to clear the felling zone of any obstacles like rocks, objects, and debris. You should ensure that there is enough space to move around. Make use of the chainsaw, clippers, or shears to remove any vegetation and other hurdles. Vegetation could be hiding large rocks on which the trunk might shatter as it lands. Prepare an obstruction-free escape path to lead you away from the felling zone. You must take this path as soon as you have made the final cut in the tree.

#4. Select the felling technique

There are different types of felling techniques that you could use depending on the size and lean of the tree. The three most common techniques that you could use are the conventional felling method, the Humboldt notch method, and the open-faced notch method. Choose the technique that is best suited to the tree you are cutting and your preference.

#5.  Establish cutting zones on the tree

Make sure that you are establishing cutting zones around the tree. You will have to determine where you will be making the felling cut, the back cut, and the directional cuts. Mark the areas clearly using flagging tape or spray paint.

How to fell a tree with a chainsaw

Felling a tree using a chainsaw can be a slightly daunting task. However, with the right tools and technique, you can carry it out safely and effectively. Here is the technique you will need to follow for felling a tree with a chainsaw – 

Step 1: Create a felling notch

The first step in felling a tree would be to create a felling notch. The felling notch is the V-shaped cut that is made on the opposite side of the tree from the felling cut. This notch will help you in guiding the tree in the direction you want the tree to fall.

For creating the felling notch, begin by making a horizontal cut just above the felling cut. After that, make a downward-angled cut toward the center of the tree. This cut needs to be at a 45° angle and must meet the felling cut at the bottom. Repeat the entire process on the other side of the tree for creating a V-shaped notch.

Step 2: Make a 90° felling cut

The next step in felling a tree would be to make a 90° felling cut. This cut should be made on the opposite side of the tree from the felling notch or the side of the tree where you want the tree to fall. It will help in releasing the tension in the tree and guide it toward the felling notch.

For making the 90° felling cut, you should start by standing on the side of the tree where you want it to fall. Then, ensure you’ve got a clear escape path if the tree falls in an unexpected direction. After that, start by making a horizontal cut into the tree toward the felling notch. This cut needs to be at the same height as the felling cut. Next up, you’ll need to make a downward-angled cut toward the center of the tree. This cut needs to meet the horizontal cut before creating a wedge-shaped piece of wood.

How to Fell a Tree with a Chainsaw

Step 3: Make a back cut

The final step in felling a tree would be to make a back cut. The back cut should be made on the opposite side of the tree from the felling cut and must be slightly higher than the felling notch.

For making the back cut, start off by making a horizontal cut into the tree. This cut has to be above the height of the felling notch and around one inch higher than the bottom of the felling notch. Next up, you will have to make a downward-angled cut toward the center of the tree. This cut needs to meet the horizontal cut and create a wedge-shaped piece of wood. Once the back cut is completed, the tree will begin to fill toward the felling notch. Quickly move over to a safe area as the tree falls.

After felling the tree with a chainsaw

After you have felled the tree, there are certain things that you’ll need to do to put the finishing touches on the process. You will have to chop off the log, clean the area, store the chainsaw, and much more so that you can make it easier to prepare the next time you have to fell a tree.

Cut up logs

Once you have felled the tree, it will be time to start removing the fallen tree. To achieve that, you will have to cut up the tree into logs. First, determine the length of the logs that you want to cut. It will depend on the intended use and the size of the tree. Typically, logs are cut into lengths of 8, 10, or 12 feet, although other lengths could also be used depending on the situation.

Start by removing the branches or twigs from the trunk of the tree with the help of a chainsaw or a hand saw. After that, cut the trunk into sections of the desired length using a chainsaw.

Remove fallen tree

Depending on the size of the tree, you will require a variety of tools to remove and move the fallen tree. You can use tools like a winch, a come-along, or a tractor for moving the fallen tree out of the way. When you are moving the fallen tree, avoid damaging nearby trees or vegetation. Moreover, be mindful of sensitive areas, alike wetlands or streams.

Disposal of waste

Once the tree has been cut into logs, the waste materials like branches and small twigs will have to be disposed of properly. Burning or burying these materials might not be safe or legal, especially in dry or wounded areas where wildfires might be a risk. One of the most efficient and eco-friendly ways of disposing of waste material would be by chipping them into small pieces. A chipper will be able to process the branches and twigs into mulch, which can then be used for landscaping or as a ground cover for trees.

Clean the area

Cleaning up after felling the trees with a chainsaw will be an important part of maintaining a safe work environment. After you have disposed of the waste, take time to clear any debris, such as bark or sawdust, from the area. This will help prevent any slipping or tripping hazards. Make use of a broom or blower for removing any debris that might be left on the ground. Make sure that you are disposing of it properly.

Store the chainsaw

After the work is done, it will be important to store your chainsaw properly. This will ensure the chainsaw’s safety and longevity. After felling the tree, clean your chainsaw with a brush or rag to remove any sawdust or debris from the guide bar and chain. Check the chain oil level and fuel level, chain tension, and more to ensure that the chainsaw is properly lubricated and maintained. Store your chainsaw in a cool, dry place, away from any sources of heat or electric sparks.

how to fell a tree with a chainsaw

Safety tips to consider when felling trees with a chainsaw

Felling trees using a chainsaw is a complex and potentially dangerous task that demands experience, training, and the right equipment. To make sure you can fell a tree safely and effectively, it’ll be essential to follow a set of safety guidelines and procedures when operating the chainsaw. Here are the safety tips that you need to consider –

#1. Wear proper protective equipment

The first and most important safety tip to consider will be to wear proper protective equipment when operating a chainsaw. This includes gloves, eye protection, ear protection, a helmet, protective chaps, and sturdy boots with nonslip soles. This safety gear will protect you from noise, sawdust, and flying debris.

#2. Inspect your equipment

Before starting with the work, inspect your chainsaw for any damage or wear that could potentially lead to malfunctions. Check the chainsaw’s chain, bar, and sprocket for ensuring that they’re lubricated properly, tightened, and free of any damage or cracks.

#3. Plan your work

Take your time to plan the work before felling a tree. Identify potential hazards or obstacles in the area, including power lines, buildings, structures, or other trees. Plan an escape path and ensure that there’s enough clearance in the area for the tree to fall safely. Moreover, you should also plan the zone in which you will be making the cuts and the direction in which the tree will fall.

#4. Use proper felling technique

When you’re felling a tree, you should make sure that you are using proper techniques, including creating a proper notch and back cut. Cut the notch first before making the back cut for guiding the tree’s direction of fall. Avoid cutting the tree from the top or use a chainsaw for removing branches that are under tension.

#5. Work in pairs

If possible, you should work in a pair when felling a tree. This will provide an extra set of eyes to watch for any potential hazard, as well as an extra set of hands to help with the work. Further, it will also make your entire work much easier. You will have multiple hands with the felling and for the chopping and cleaning after the felling is done.

#6. Stay alert

When you’re operating a chainsaw, you must stay alert and be aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye out on the tree’s movement and be ready that you retreat quickly when necessary. Don’t take any unnecessary risks and always prioritize safety.

#7. Maintain your chainsaw

After felling the tree, clean and maintain your chainsaw. This will make sure that your chainsaw is ready for future use and that there aren’t any malfunctions. Clean your chainsaw and store it in a dry place.

Also Read: How to Fell a Tree: A Step-by-Step Guide


What safety precautions should I take when using a chainsaw to fell a tree?

When using a chainsaw to fell a tree, it is important to take safety precautions. This includes wearing the proper protective gear such as gloves, boots, eye protection, and a hard hat. It is also important to ensure that the area is clear of any obstacles or people, and to make sure the chainsaw is in good working condition. Additionally, it is essential to plan the tree felling process in advance and take care when cutting in order to avoid kickback.

What techniques should I use to safely fell a tree with a chainsaw?

When felling a tree with a chainsaw, it is important to use the proper techniques. This includes cutting a wedge or notch into the tree at a downward angle, away from the intended direction of fall. Once the wedge is complete, the chainsaw should be used to cut a horizontal line underneath the wedge, on the opposite side from the intended direction of fall. This will create an undercut, which will allow the tree to fall in the intended direction.

What should I do after felling a tree with a chainsaw?

After felling a tree with a chainsaw, it is important to take measures to ensure the tree and the surrounding area are safe. This includes trimming any jagged limbs and cutting the tree into smaller pieces for removal. Additionally, it is important to check the area for any other potential hazards, such as broken branches or other debris. Finally, it is essential to store the chainsaw in a safe and secure location.

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Hi, I'm Mike - but my friends call me Backyard Mike. I'm the founder of this website, and I'm addicted to outdoor power tools. I love to work with wood and share my knowledge here on this website with you. You can find more about me here.