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How to Cut Down A Tree Safely and Precisely with a Chainsaw


Person using a chainsaw to cut a felled tree

If it’s time to cut down a tree on your property, learning how to cut down that tree safely should be the most important first step. Taking down a large tree is no small task, and making sure you have the right safety precautions and tools will enable your success.

Depending on the size and location of the tree you need to remove, you may want to take a few extra precautions or hire a professional. Keep reading to find out if you are ready to tackle that tree in your backyard. Never hesitate to contact a professional if you are still unsure about the best way to bring your tree down, or have concerns about damaging your nearby property.

Before Cutting Down Your Tree

Knowing how to cut down a tree safely starts with preparation. You might have seen those videos where someone is cutting down a tree, and it lands on their house or vehicle—or even worse, videos where a falling tree barely misses the oblivious person standing too close to the felling area. If you don’t want to be that person, read on!

You will need to invest in a few safety items before you get started—heavy work gloves, safety gear (for head, eyes, and ears), boots, and leg protection. A quality chainsaw is the most important tool you’ll need before you get started.

Preparing Your Chainsaw

If you plan to use your current chainsaw, make sure it has been recently serviced and sharpened. Taking the time to maintain your chainsaw year-round will improve the longevity of your power tool. A sharpened and serviced chainsaw will make your tree cutting easier. If you are unsure, you should also ask your local power tool experts whether your chainsaw is powerful enough for the job.

If you are looking to purchase a new chainsaw, reach out to our experts at PowerPro Equipment or visit our shop New Holland, Pa.  PowerPro is your one-stop-shop for new and used equipment and power equipment repairs.

Determine Your Felling Direction

Now that you have collected all of the tools and safety items you will need, it’s time to plan how to cut your tree down. The felling direction—or direction you want your tree to fall—should be away from your home, any exterior buildings or vehicles, and anyone that’s in the area.

Generally, a tree should fall in the direction that it is leaning. However, several factors could alter this natural felling pattern. If your tree has rotting areas, it is naturally leaning toward your home, or you incorrectly judge just how big the tree is, you could be in trouble. If in doubt, contact a professional.

Establish Your Escape Route

If you can easily determine the direction that the tree will fall, your next step is to plan how you will get away from the tree as it falls. Once you make the final felling cut, you need to move away from the falling tree in the opposite direction. Debris or branches can fly away from the tree as it falls, and there is always the chance the tree may fall in a different path than you expected.

Investigate Obstacles

While planning your felling direction and escape route, you may run into obstacles that could prevent your success. Remove anything in the way of your felling path and escape plans. Also, look to your tree for any loose branches or debris that could break loose as your tree is coming down.

Cut Limbs First (If Needed)

You may have some troublesome tree limbs to remove before you bring down your tree. Safely remove any limbs that would prevent your tree from falling in the right direction or that might hit nearby buildings or vehicles. If you see troublesome branches but cannot safely reach them, contact a professional.

Now It’s Time to Cut Down Your Tree

If you have made all of the necessary preparations and plans, it’s finally time to cut down that tree. Do one last check right before getting started to make sure that you have everything you need and that anyone helping knows where to be and what to do.

Start With a Notch in the Felling Direction

The first cut you will make with your newly sharpened and tuned-up chainsaw is a starting notch on the side you want your tree to fall. Make a top cut downwards at a 70-degree angle, and work at a height that is comfortable for you. The tree diameter will affect how far in you should cut, but generally, you should cut no more than a quarter of the way into the tree.

After you make your first cut, you will cut horizontally inward to meet the initial cut and create a notch. Make sure your cuts match so that the notch falls out.

Make a Horizontal Cut on Opposite Side

Next, move to the opposite side and prepare to make the felling cut. Your chainsaw should go into the tree horizontally, starting above the height of that last cut.

As you make your cut, you may need to use a wedge to take some pressure off the chainsaw so that it does not bind up as you make your felling cut. It is crucial that you do not cut the entire way through the tree.

Stand Back

If you made the appropriate cuts, your tree should begin to fall after you finished your felling cut. Once this happens, it’s time to use the escape route and get out of the way.

Removing Your Cut Down Tree

You may know how to cut down a tree, but now that your tree is down, it’s time to take care of the branches and trunk. You don’t want to leave the fallen tree sitting in your backyard to rot and damage your lawn, so start by removing the limbs—known as “limbing”—from the bottom and work your way up. After removing the tree limbs, you can cut up the trunk—a process known as “bucking.”

Need to Purchase a Chainsaw or Have One Serviced?

Now that you know how to cut down a tree, you may realize that you need a chainsaw that is ready to tackle the job. Here at PowerPro Equipment, we can help you find the best available chainsaw for the job or service the one you already have. Contact us directly, or stop by our New Holland showroom today!