We all are well aware of the fact that chainsaw is a powerful tool. It does heavy-duty jobs like cutting timber and trees down. If you are a professional arborist, your job would definitely require cutting down trees with a chainsaw. However, if you are a homemaker, you might find any tree nearby as danger and want to cut it off. In both cases, you need to ensure your safety first. 

Handling chainsaw is not a rocket science but is not easy either. You must make sure that you have all the personal protection equipment with you. Once done, you can start your job. The following guide will help you in cutting down a tree with a chainsaw step-by-step:

Choose the right chainsaw

The very first thing to do is choosing the right chainsaw. The size of chainsaw has to be in accordance with the diameter of the tree. If you are going to cut down a big tree, you might need a chainsaw that has 18” bar length. However, if the tree is a thinner one, a chainsaw with 10” bar can work. 

A number of electric chainsaws, corded or cordless, come with greater bar lengths. 

Prepare to cut down the tree

While you are preparing to cut down the tree, you need to keep three things in mind:

  • Check the surrounding area to makes sure nothing and no one comes in the way
  • Put up the warning signs
  • Take permission from the authorities, if required. 

Decide the direction of fall

Once you have cleared the area, decide the direction in which the tree will fall. To do that, you need to determine following factors:

  • Which side of the tree is heavier i.e. has more branches?
  • What is the direction of the wind?
  • If the tree is leaning in some particular direction already or not?

All of these factors will help you decide the right direction the tree should fall in. It is also important to ensure that the direction has no property which is under risk of getting damaged. 

Once you decide the direction of fall, clear that area as well as area behind the direction of fall. This is your retreat path. Now, you need to make cuts but here’s another important thing to consider; you must tie a safety rope at about your waist’s height. You can also use a flag or a red mark to know where you are going to cut the tree. 

This is important because you should never make cuts above your waist. It is highly risky and not professional at all.

Prune tree limbs and buttress roots

Usually, the lower part of a tree has small branches, limbs, and buttress roots growing on it. Prune them away with your chainsaw. You can use a pulling chain for this purpose. It will help in making easier and faster cuts. 

Cut down the limbs and roots from the top and make a stroke downward. This is the safest way to use a chainsaw. Remember not to cut tree limbs that are above your shoulder level. 

Make a face notch

Face notch is the front cut made in the direction of fall. To make a front cut, you need to make two cuts on the front side of the tree. It is also known as ‘wedge cut’.

There are a number of different ways to make a face notch or a directional notch. The most common and highly recommended one is ‘open directional notch’. 

It is important to make a face notch carefully as it plays an important role in determining the accuracy of the tree falling down in the decided direction. 

How to make an open directional notch:

Following steps will guide you about how to make an open directional notch accurately:

  • Make an upper cut at an angle of 65 degrees.
  • The top cut should have a depth of 25 – 30% of the tree’s diameter. 
  • Make a lower horizontal cut that matches the end of top cut. 
  • You will get a wedge carved out. This top should be a perfect triangle. 

In this way, you will get open directional notch. You can examine if the tree has any rottenness or is infected on its inner side. This might make it fall in some other direction. You need to be careful in this situation. 

Make the back cut

The next step is to make the back cut. Move to the opposite side of the wedge cut. Make a back cut that is anywhere between the two ends of upper part of the wedge cut. Make sure you leave 2 inches of gap between front cut and back.

There is no need to cut all the way through to the other side. It poses a great risk: the tree can fall while your chainsaw is still in the hinge. 

Use a rope/felling wedge to take it down

When you have successfully marked front and back cut, the tree might start falling. Now you need to be careful. Step aside and shut off your chainsaw

Now, you can use different things to take the tree down such as rope, felling wedge, and a block. Tying the safety rope around both cuts is a good and safe idea. The tree will break and start falling.

Finally, your tree is coming down. If you cut it down for safety purposes, you are done. However, if you have cut it for the timber, the job does not end here. You need to start cutting timber of the sizes you require. 

Final thoughts

Cutting down a tree with a chainsaw can be a tiresome task if you are not aware of the basics. The above guide included all the basics a layman must know before cutting down a tree. You must be careful about all the risks involved and professionalism that is needed.

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