Trees can be a beautiful addition to your property. However, they can pose a danger to people and your home if they are dead, too big or damaged by wind, fire, and lightning. Hence sometimes you need to cut down or fell your tree, today we will show you the right way to do it.

cutting down a tree with a chainsaw

You will learn these skills and more today, as we show you the proper way to use your chainsaw to tackle some of the common jobs you need to do around your property either when it comes dealing with logs or trees, standing or after they have already fallen.

Before we get stuck into the details of how to cut down a tree with your chainsaw, safety should always come first. You need to be wearing protective clothing. Chainsaws aren’t called widow makers for laughs. A chainsaw will maim or kill if you are not wearing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). You also need to make sure your equipment is working well and you have a safe working environment. Taking down a tree with a chainsaw is not rocket science, but it does require some planning to do it safely. We like to use the old acronym of the 7-P’s that goes, “Proper Prior Planning Prevents P$#% Poor Performance” keep this in mind and hum the Mantra “Safety First” while you work.

The Proper way to Cut Down a Tree with a Chainsaw

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Size up the Job.  Measure its height and see where you can fell it safely without having it hit your house or car. Also, make sure it does not hit your neighbor’s house or car for that matter either. Measure the trunk and ensure your chainsaw is up for the job. Over 10 inches in thickness may be too much for a cordless or corded electric chainsaw. Though some electric models have 15 amp motors and up to 18″ chain bars.

If you are using a gas-powered chainsaw, although you are likely to have more cutting power you still need to make sure your chainsaw is the right size for the job.Once you’ve settled on the direction of fall, you need to check the lean of the tree. This requires a bit more effort to bring it down safely. (This is covered later in the article). Also consider any government approval you may need before taking down a tree in your yard if you live in a, town, and village before you start work.

  1. Clear the Area.  Be sure to check the surrounding area, get all children, and pets out of the way.  You need to erect warning signs just in case someone comes running in the path of the tree you are felling. They could easily get hurt if the tree is falling in their path just when they run in. With warning signs a distance from the “fall-radius” of the tree, you can start work knowing you have put the safety of other first. That is important for trees in the forest and those in open spaces such as the street.
  2. Prepare the Tree.
    • Prune any smaller branches around the trunk that may get in your way when making the main cuts or any low branches that may affect the tree from falling over fully.
    • You then need to determine which direction the tree will fall. To do that, you will need to observe which side of the tree has more branches that also look heavier. You also need to determine the direction of the wind and if the tree is leaning in a particular direction. Once you have done that, you need to clear the area on which the tree will fall and all the area behind it for an angle of 45 degrees. That will be your retreat path.Tie a safety rope around the tree above where you will make the first cut, lead it off in the direction of anticipated fall. Have a small amount of tension on the rope. Make sure you mark it with a red flag or some other manner, so you see it while you are cutting so as not to entangle yourself or the chainsaw in it.

preparing to fell a tree

  1. Cut out a wedge in the direction of fall, 50% – 80% through the tree. This is your “Face Notch.” Make it at waist height, as this is easier and comfortable as well as a safer level to work at. This is a good time to check the trunk for any type of rot or disease that may exist in the wood. Its important to check this as it may mean the tree is weaker than expected causing it to fall differently than planned.cutting method - felling a tree
  2. Walk around the tree to the opposite side. Make a back cut to meet the upper part of the wedge cut. Do not cut all the way through. Leave a little, so the tree doesn’t fall while your chainsaw is in the cut (Hinge).
  3. The tree may start to fall at this point. Move back at an angle to get clear. Step back and shut off the chainsaw.

felling tree safety diagram

  1. Use the safety rope, wedge, and block to pull the tree, and it will break and start to fall. It is customary to yell timber to warn people that the tree is coming down.

The Video below shows all the steps for how to cut down a tree safely with a chainsaw.

You will note he leaves himself an escape route. You should do the same. Make sure it is at an angle, and you should go over it to ensure there are no tripping hazards.

Why we do not cut all the way through, Lumberjacks cut all the way through, and they have been handling a chainsaw to fell trees for years, while you, on the other hand, may do it, rarely. However, it’s up to you.

Now you have some idea how to get a tree down and cut it into pieces. You now can deal with some of the biggest problems that people who have chainsaws for. But, now let’s get into things that help groom and help you keep your yard looking great year-round.

How to Trim a Tree with a Chainsaw

Splinters in the eye can happen if your chainsaw happens to cut a hanging limb when you are trying to cut down a tree as was alluded to in some of the videos you’ve seen today. Special pole chainsaws are often the best choice and safest for this type of job, so ensure you have the right saw.

However, if you have a tree that needs a diseased limb lopped off or to keep a bough from coming too close to the house. For whatever reason, “Limbing” as it is called can be just as dangerous as felling an entire tree. So let’s learn from the experts and get the job done right in the first place.

When you do limbing, you need to think about protective gear and a face shield as you haven’t lived in the woods like this guy. He removes most everything including the knobs. The 3-cut method is the one that is recommended to remove a limb without damaging a living tree that you just want to get rid of a limb that needs to go. So, you should take all precautions and never cut over your head, which can be seductive once you start trimming a tree.

cutting limbs overhead

Trimming a tree makes things look neat, and your yard becomes a pristine environment, which allows for relaxation and play.

Removing a Tree Stump with a Chainsaw

Once you have felled a tree you may ask yourself, how do I remove the stump? A stump in the front yard is an eyesore and unless you are willing to shell out the bucks for a tree grinder. You need an alternative, and we have a combined technique that you’ll find that is unique and an unusual method.

To remove tree stump with a chainsaw can be hard, but here is a simple way to get it done fast. It wouldn’t take the stump below ground to make you yard smooth like tree removal people do. However, it will get you flush, and then you can do another thing we will show you that will take care of the rest.

Use the top of the saw bar and only go in about 2/3s of the way in into the stump. Instead, of blowing the sawdust out keeps inside under the top of the stump you are removing. This is different from conventional techniques that use wedges to keep the weight of your bar. You have a cushion of fluffy sawdust that supports the stump, and it lets you finish your cut. Then everything slides off.

Next, if you want you can continue, taking the stump down with another technique, which is kind of interesting and doesn’t use the chainsaw, but your drill with and then burn out the stump. When you are done you have the stump removed, and you can plant over the spot, and there’ll be no sign a tree was ever there. This is relatively it is easy and saves you cash over a renting a stump grinder.

After getting rid of the stump, you may also need to get rid of the fallen trunk. This needs you to be vigilant as there risks here as well.

Cutting a Fallen Tree with a Chainsaw

We now move from taking a fallen log into manageable chunks, to the most dangerous things you can do with tree care and a chainsaw, taking down a leaning tree. This is true because it is like a cocked bow waiting to release the kinetic energy stored inside and this energy can release negatively if you attempt to alter the direct of the lean when you cut the tree down. This next section will show you various methods of dealing with it, and we caution you to become experienced and skilled with your chainsaw prior taking on this task. If fact, for safety reasons this writer feels an amateur should not even attempt it, as you will see what can happen. Something that you should leave to the experienced chainsaw tree cutters or hire a pro.

How to cut a Leaning Tree Down with a Chainsaw

You have to very careful with a leaning tree as it has its weight, a may have a lean in a direction you may not want, and that could cause damage to your home and property. The dynamics are different from a straight growing tree, and you need to be extra vigilant on your cutting technique. A leaner is the most dangerous of trees. If you can avoid having to cut one down and let an arborist handle it, is the best course of action in our opinion.

The bottom line here is that felling a tree is dangerous at the best of times and you should get as much training as you can before tackling a leaner. Talking with a Tree Doctor/Arborist and tagging along if you can you can get the mentoring you need.

Safety is the #1 thing that should be in your mind at all times. The power of gravity and the release of the latent energy of a leaning tree are almost unimaginable and when it releases that energy, you are not fast enough to avoid the results.

Getting a leaner down can be done if you have the experience and take all safety precautions. While we are bringing the information to you, we feel it is something that you should let a professional do the work. But, the choice is up to you.