How to Use a Chainsaw to Fell a Tree: Step by Step

tree felling

It is very important to carefully plan felling a tree. Trees need to be felled safely and in the right direction.

Steps to Fell a Tree

1. Preparations and Planning

After you have familiarized yourself with your chainsaw, you are ready to fell a tree for the first time. To ensure that felling is as efficient and safe as possible, it is very important to plan your felling ahead of time and to think one step ahead at all times.

To begin with, don’t ever work in the forest alone. Always make sure to have somebody with you. It is a good idea to have a mobile phone with you since it allows you to call for help quickly in case you need it.

2. Choose Your Felling Direction

After you select a tree that you want to fell, determine the direction that you want the tree to fall in. The following factors should be considered: Which direction does the wind blow? Are branches hanging mainly in one direction? Is your tree leaning?

The easiest way to fell the tree is in the direction that it would fall naturally due to the wind’s direction, overhang, and slope. Felling in a different direction often requires more effort, a special technique, and may even be impossible at times.

It is advantageous if you can fell your tree across a stump, rock, or log. That helps to ensure that you have a comfortable working height for cross-cutting and limbing.

Note: If there are other people in the area, a safe distance for them to be at is two tree lengths at least.

3. Limbing the Lower Trunk

The first step is to cut any low branches away. But make sure to never cut over shoulder height. Also, don’t stand behind the saw directly. The trunk of the tree can be used as a barrier between the saw and yourself.

4. Clear a Path of Retreat and Your Work Area

Clear the ground surrounding the tree and a couple of yards behind it. It is important to be able to take a couple of steps back if a root springs up unexpectedly.

5. How to Fell a Tree in the Proper Direction

In order to have a tree fall in the direction that you want, use a method that is referred to by professional loggers as “directional felling.” This term means you cut a kind of hinge inside the trunk, and that helps to steer the tree as it is falling to the ground.

directional felling

In order to create the hinge, first, you cut a wedge-shaped piece out, by making a “directional cut” on the side that you want your tree to fall in. The next step is to make your “felling cut,” by cutting in a horizontal direction from the other side. However, don’t saw through the complete stem. Leave about a 3 cm hinge. The hinge is what controls the direction of the felling.

6. Directional Cut

Stand behind the tree with your feet apart and then lean your left shoulder up against the trunk to keep steady. Make your aim along the top part of the front handle in the same direction of the fell. That will give you the proper direction for making the directional cut.

Make a top directional cut first. Maintain a firm grip on the front handle using your left thumb, and then apply full throttle and take the saw down at about a 60-degree angle. You want your directional cut to be at around a depth of around 1/4 to 1/5 of the diameter of the trunk. Start out high enough on the trunk so there is enough room to make a bottom directional cut.

Remain in the same position to make your bottom directional cut. Use full throttle (controlling the throttle using your right thumb) and keep your left thumb wrapped around the front handle.

Raise your saw up at about a 30-degree angle and stop exactly when you reach your top cut, neither too short or too far. It is important for both cuts to precisely meet so the hinge steers the tree all of the way down to the ground.

As you are making your bottom cut, look down your to cut to find where both of the cuts meet. If you did it correctly, you should end up with a perfect direction cut that has an opening of 90 degrees.

7. Felling Cut

Note: Stop your engine and check your fuel level. It can be dangerous if your fuel ends up running out during the middle of your felling cut.

The felling cut needs to be level with the tip of your directional cut, or just slightly over it. Make sure that you leave a hinge that has a uniform thickness of around 1.25 inch or 3 cm at least.

If the tree trunk’s diameter is less than the length of the bar, you directly make your felling cut from the back in the same direction of the felling.

If it is not, you should get started by bringing your saw in from the trunk’s side and continue to move backwards around the tree as you are cutting.

Stand firm with your feet apart. Your left thumb should be kept around the handle, and before you start to cut apply full throttle.

When your felling cut is about halfway, stop your saw and then drive a wedge or insert a pry bar into the cut. That will help to prevent the tree from trapping the saw and falling backward. A pry bar will also make felling the tree easier. Finally, complete your felling cut, but be careful to not saw into your pry bar.

Note: We recommend that if you are a beginner that you don’t fell any trees that have a diameter that is bigger than the length of your bar since it is safer and easier.

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