How to Fell a Tree

Introduction: How to Fell a Tree

Tools & Materials

· Chain Saw (sharp)

· Felling Wedges (if felling a larger tree)

· Axe

* If felling a larger tree other tools may be needed. Please be sure to know what it is you need before you head out to drop a tree.

Safety Gear

· Hard hat

· Safety goggles

· Hearing Protection

· Heavy duty work gloves

· Steel toe boots

· Kevlar chaps

** If you are unaware of what these tools or safety gear look like or need suggestions on what to buy, refer to this link: or ask someone who is experienced in tree felling.

Disclaimer: These instructions are basic guidelines and all users accept full responsibility for any damages or accidents that occur, and the creators of these instructions shall not be held responsible.

Note: These directions for felling a tree may vary outside of Alaska. Please be sure to check your local bylaws before felling any trees. Always have permission before hand.

Chainsaw Safety

It is important to know how to operate your chainsaw safely. Follow this link to ensure proper chainsaw safety.

Step 1: Choosing the Right Tree & When to Call a Professional

Before you choose a tree make sure you check the surrounding area, looking for anything that may be in the felling zone. Make sure the tree is far away from any property or vehicles, also make sure you have no overhead dangers such as; loose or broken branches that may fall on you; any power poles or telephones poles that have wires; or other trees that may be in the way. It is always good to have another person around so that they can watch for falling branches or other obstacles. If your tree has a natural lean it is better to cut in the direction of the lean, if the felling zone is clear. If in doubt call a professional. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Step 2: Exit Path

When you have found your tree be sure to clear any brush or other items out of your exit path. Be sure to have two separate exit paths at a 45-degree angle from the direction you are felling the tree. You will need a way to escape if your tree does not fall in the direction you had planned it to fall. Sometimes things go unexpectedly wrong and it is always good to have a plan when this happens.

Step 3: Clearing Branches & Brush

Before you start cutting make sure to remove any branches or brush that may be in the way. You want to be sure to have a nice clean area as to make sure you are making cuts correctly. You can cut branches by making a downward cut at the base of the branches. Remove these from the area before you start to fell your tree.

Step 4: The Notch

Once you have found your tree and you have decided which direction to drop it, making sure the area is free and clear, you will need to make the first cut for your notch. This cut should be a horizontal cut no higher than your hips in the direction you wish to drop the tree. The second cut will be made above the first cut at a 45 to 60-degree angle from the first cut. You want the depth of your cut to be at least 1/3 of the diameter of the tree. The person you bring can monitor from behind making sure that no branches come crashing down upon you. Have a plan ahead of time for how to signal danger. If you feel a tap on your shoulder (or whatever it is you have decided upon) before your tree starts to fall, this means that a branch may be falling. Leave your saw and quickly make your way down the exit path.

Step 5: The Felling Cut / the Hinge

The felling cut is made from the direct opposite of your notch. You will need to cut towards the notch about 2 inches above the first cut in your notch and stop 10% of the diameter of your tree before you meet the notch. Stopping before you meet the notch allows for the “hinge”. This hinge controls the direction your tree is going to fall. You will need to be sure to make an even cut through to the notch. If this cut is not even the hinge can break early on one side or the other causing the tree to twist and fall in another direction.

*If the tree is larger in width than the bar of your blade you will need the felling wedge. In this case when you are making the felling cut, once you have cut into the tree and have made it through the width of the bar on your saw you will need to insert the felling wedge and use the back of your ax to drive it in. Using this wedge allows you to remove your saw without the tree pinching your saw upon exit, and allows you direct the way your tree falls if there is a lean in the opposite direction.

Step 6: Additional Information

Depending on how big your tree is you can find many more notches that will work better for felling that specific tree. I have included a link for other options.

These instructions were intended to show you how to fell your tree. For information about how to limb and buck your tree please refer to these videos or speak to someone who is experienced in bucking trees.

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