Instructables
Picture of How to Cut Down a Tree
Warning! Get really drunk first. Then it won't hurt so much when you chainsaw your face off and crush your family.

First step - find a tree to cut down. No problem. As soon as you know how to cut down a tree people will sense it and constantly ask you to cut down trees for them.
It will help if you know some of the technical vocabulary:

Equipment: Every piece of equipment used in this process is called a "Widowmaker".
Tree Anatomy: The tree and every part of the tree is called a "Widowmaker".
Terrain Analysis: Everything in the vicinity of the tree is called a "Widowmaker".

Act really confident and relaxed as shown in this photo. (pics by ex_mo)
I'm saying "you mean this tree over here?"
 
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Step 1: Cut a Notch in the Felling Direction

Picture of Cut a Notch in the Felling Direction
Make it a big notch that goes more than halfway through the tree.
The "mouth" part of this notch faces in the direction you want your tree to fall.
If the tree is mostly upright and the branches are sort of symmetrical it will want to fall that direction.

We tied a rope to the top of the tree to help it fall in the direction we wanted.

Step 2: Cut Toward the Notch from the Other Side.

Picture of Cut Toward the Notch from the Other Side.
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Cut from the other side toward the big notch.
When you get close to the notch the tree will start to lean away from you. If it doesn't, or if it leans the wrong way and binds your saw blade, have the Oompaloompas pull on the rope tied to the top of the tree.

Step 3: The Tree Falls

Picture of The Tree Falls
As it starts to lean, make your escape to one side, because the butt of the tree can kick back.

There isn't any very safe place to be, because branches can break and fly anywhere, or the top of the tree could pull something down with it.

If you didn't cut all the way to the notch you can leave a sort of "living hinge" that will keep the tree from falling to the side.

My cousin's father-in-law was killed by a vine that got pulled by a tree as it fell.

Even though Tim is wearing Capris, Crocs, and a soft topless hat and not wearing gloves, I am sure he knows that safety is a priority.

I would point out that when cutting your notch you should make the bottom of the two cuts first - especially on a big tree. If you cut the bottom last then you will fight the weight of the wedge besides everything else that is trying to go wrong.

The angle on the back cut is not a necessity unless you are worried about the tree slipping backwards into something like a fence or house.

If you think you might not be able to handle the job and worry about it going wrong you should probably call somebody with knowledge, experience and insurance. It may be a little steep but always cheaper than a new house.

The picture below is of a "canoe" hanging over a house and a shop. It is a branch that weighs about 500 Lbs and is hollowed out with rot and cracked on top - just waiting for a strong wind. This one in particular ( near Canon City, CO) could not be seen from the ground so when I snapped a pic with my cell phone and showed it to the home owner she immediately asked for me to cut and lower it from our bucket truck.

The other picture is of me standing next to a 90 ft+ Cottonwood (p.deltoides) that the City of Florence, CO had me fell and remove. I used a tractor and a dump truck with cables and ropes to direct the fall away from two perpendicular power lines.

Freia Canoe in Cottonwood.jpgMe by big Cottonwood.jpg
Chaps? hearing protection? safety glasses? gloves? The notch should be no more than 1/3rd of the diameter.

Even though some of the folks reading this think it is hilarious, I am concerned that some knucklehead will attempt to cut down a tree with this method of "more than half way" . At least with that angle on his felling cut it was less likely to snap back on him, but still, as dead as that tree looks, if it had been a bigger tree???

I think it would be VERY dangerous to cut your wedge as much as you say. It should be about a fifth of the trunk diameter and no more. Too much wedge and the tree may jump off the stump and swing around at you as it hits other trees overhead. The idea is to make a small wedge cut and then the main cut from the other side to meet that wedge cut. To help the tree go where you want it you can use felling wedges. I suggest that you tie a string or rope around the tree then use spray paint to mark your cuts. You want the notch to be right at the felling cut to create a hinge of sorts. The notch should be a 90 degree cut towards the line of the felling cut and that cut should be close to as flat as possible on a straight tree. If the tree leans, then you need to take that into consideration. Research determining tree lean or plumb bob it to see how far it is off. If it is only a foot or two, you can work with it. More than that and you should not be doing it if you are reading this. The wedge should be 60° above the line and 30° below that line. For a bigger tree, using a felling wedge inserted in the felling cut when it is deep enough. You
can sort of see the wedge shape on the side closest to the where the tree is in the photo with the quad. This was a big Douglas Fir on our property that had died. It was at the back corner near where a neighbors house was so I dropped it along a ditch between our houses. I paint marked it because the tree diameter is bigger then my saw blade so I wanted to know where my cuts were when I got around it.

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trn2la2 years ago
Hey man, thanks for the Info.

Ive not got the money required (and prolly never will) to hire a pro. What the heel makes a pro anywAy?.

I have to learn to do this myself as I cant even afford to buy firewood.

I live in a remote area, theres plenty of trees and the local authorities allow firewood collection for domestic use without a permit or fees. so i need to learn how to do this just to keep warm. In fact im dam lucky i even have a wood fire heater, I sure as hell cant afford electric heating.

I understand this is extremely dangerous. Im hoping that with an attitude of respect for what I am doing, I will keep myself and others safe.

My chainsaw is not big enough to do the biggest trees too. however today my first tree is some kind of Australian Bottle brush, and while its not huge, it is near a whole heap of fences. so im in research mode ATM.

If you DO have the money it is prolly smart to hire a pro. But if your broke, and you must keep yourself and/or family warm, then dont be afraid, people have been risking their lives to keep warm or collect food/water or other essentials since the first cavemen.

I also just gotta say this. Dont listen to the people who are suggesting you ignore this guide. They are all happy to say this article is wrong, but best I can tell none are suggesting how its wrong, let alone how to do it right.

I've been asking around a little, and I'd be looking at between $100 for a guy a few miles away to come do it (but he was drunk when I visited him, and hes not a pro, licensed or insured) all the way up to $400 for a licensed dude with a business ( I assume hes insured) to travel an hour to get here. Either way, even if it was $100 for a pro, i cant afford that every time I need firewood.

How does one become a pro? are there courses, apprenticeships, trainee ships etc? Is one called a pro, just from being licensed and insured?

I reckon you just be extremely careful, and do it yourself, just make sure you watch every video on you tube that teaches how to do this read every DIY article on it too, ask questions and pick brains. If after that you don't feel confident, DON'T DO IT!!!
MikleJayWox2 years ago
You will please also notice that in step 5 cousin Rod is displaying the latest in Xineese safety footwear.

The secret to this product is the toughened canvas upper. After the tree lands on your foot all the pieces are ready packaged for the ambulance trip!

MJR
the worst thing you can do is cut down a tree from a ladder, this is how most accidents happen. You wanna get in the crotch of the tree and cut down the limb u want and if u notch a tree halfway, its too much. The Noch should be 2/3 in the tree.
Well done & very funny! Despite all the naysaying commentators, you can't argue with success! This is so funny that I had to share the info with my brother.
Tree Guy3 years ago
This is hilarious! This is one of the funniest tree cutting down articles I've seen. I think that most people would see that his is a joke so for all of you who are worried about the misinformation in this post; laugh a little! Basically, every thing that you could do wrong is being done in this example.
geoslim133 years ago
my dad took a chainsaw to the gut this summer, yes the blade was moving, and all it gave him was a bad case of rug burn, but his favorite shirt was not so lucky
I climb, prune and remove trees for a living and this looks like a disaster.  You would be better off hiring someone unless you have extensive knowledge of the different fiber strengths of different species.  Nearly every week I hear about another home owner who thinks they can do this safely and ends up dead, cutting off an arm or leg (or someone else's), or dropping a tree on a car or house.  I work with a chainsaw daily and it never ceases to amaze me the lack of respect that people have for these tools.  Chainsaws are not something to joke about and can cut your face in half before you know what is going on.  Google chainsaw accidents, go buy some chaps, hearing protection, safety glasses, boots, and gloves.  Use the saw for cutting up fire wood, I strongly urge you to not attempt felling trees. 
El Zagna4 years ago
A notch that is "more than halfway" through the tree is too much. Between one-third and one-half  is more like it.
titivillus4 years ago
well, I took your advice and got really really drunk and now I think the tree looks great and I can now wait til it dies and falls down by its self; it is not close enough to the house to matter anyway.  what I can't remember is why i wanted to take down that beautiful tree anyway.

thanks again and bottoms up.
james
Oval4 years ago
The back cut should be horizontal, not on an angle as you are showing here.

You should wear eye and hearing protection when using a chain saw. I don't think it's a very good idea to be wearing shorts and there is no excuse for crocs, especially when operating a chain saw.


very well told, great instructable
pixbytrix7 years ago
Any pointers on cutting down a tree that is leaning towards your neighbor's house that will probably have to come down over a public (city) road? This scenario looks much easier than mine. I've always wanted to play with a chain saw . . . : )
Yeah cut most of the way through with an axe and smoke your cars clutch while rmoving the garden gates very quickly via falling trees, I combined four jobs in one:
Remove large tree - check
Remove stupid gate - check
Test unbreakable tow rope - check (it failed)

Fix bent inward tow bar - check (tow bar = hitch in america)

Extra freebie jobs done
Smoke clutch - Check
Gain one hulk shoulder - Check
Get horrible gash fro falling tree - Check
Return Six assorted flying items to street people - Check
is what my neighbor did was cut off the top first and then the bottom down it took longer and was harder but his house was saved
I prefer using the biggest heaviest axe I can find, also called the widowmaker, it's predecessor was used for all round cutting of things and I found that dried wood will detonate if hit hard enough, ears ringing I stood up straight and looked for the other half, it landed on my head a few seconds later.
X_D_3_M_16 years ago
idk why, but u in that hat... brings back memories of resident evil 4 when the psycho saws ur head off with a double chainsaw
liek this
kill u.jpg
It's a good idea to use a VERY long rope, or have Oompaloompas sufficently fleet of foot so as not to end the day with Oompaloompas conciderably flatter than the ones you started with.
taradiddle7 years ago
Your funny and Great Tim, keep it up! I play Yahoo Answers and I included this in a question on how to cut a tree, (I'm Jaccie, Tom's wife, you bought the Datsun Diesel from us the other month, remember?)I hope you have fun with that too! And say hi to your wonderful g-friend for me too, thanks! I will be watching to see what becomes of the Datsun!
AT7 years ago
You don't even have to know what you are doing to get people to invite you over to cut their trees down. All you have to do is go out and buy a chain saw and know how to start it. The people will be calling you to come over, "Oh, and bring your chainsaw. I have a little tree that needs to come down." The little tree turns out to be 60 feet tall! All you have to do then is say "Where do you want it?" And let the fun begin... Nice instructable Tim. Paul Ernst invited me over to run my chain saw that I loaned him. He didn't want to run the widowmaker. I took a look at his 60+ foot tall tree and said "Where do you want it?"
bumpus7 years ago
good explenation, i suck at spelling, i noticed that you have no top on your hat? intresting...
unclelar7 years ago
Looks to me like he is pointing to what looks to be a squirrel sitting on top of the black metal post.
Kiteman7 years ago
You appear to be pointing at the tree the ladder is not leaning against?