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With the increasing concern of dull chainsaw blades stopping users from cutting down trees efficiently, there has been an increased need to sharpen the chainsaw. More and more chainsaw users are surfing the internet and exploring the manuals to find ways to sharpen their chainsaws. This article sheds some light on the issue and shares valuable insight on how to sharpen a chainsaw.

Cutting Down Trees Using A Chainsaw | Your Comprehensive Guide

When you think of how to cut down a tree using a chainsaw, the first imagery that pops into your mind is lumberjacks and loggers in dense pine forests, taking down huge timber. It’s not something you would imagine your neighbor to do, considering the job to be non-professional. However, the reality is far beyond your imagination, as anyone can cut down trees on their property using a chainsaw. The only thing beholding them is the lack of confidence, adequate knowledge, proper guide, and willingness.

You may have often heard of cutting trees termed as ‘felling.’ You can’t simply go out with an axe and start cutting the tree. The task to chop down a tree comes with several crucial things to consider before you begin the process. To date, using a notch cut is regarded as the best way to fell a tree. However, the world has surpassed the application of the conventional felling notch technique, eventually making the process obsolete.

In this article, you will acquire valuable and proper guidance on the latest open-faced notch cut technique for cutting down a tree in the most efficient and effective way. This guide will help you in cutting down trees without risking an incomplete fall of the tree. So, let’s dive in.

Cutting Down Trees Using A Chainsaw

Before You Start

Before you start to cut down a tree, you must know the various things to consider for proceeding. Below are a few things that you must evaluate and check out.

Understand Dangers Of Cutting Down A Tree

You must understand the tree-cutting dangers before doing so. When the tree falls down, its loose branches will fall free too. This could be a danger as the limbs and debris can injure people staying on the ground. It may even damage personal property or equipment. This risk becomes alarming when you work on cutting down a dead or dying tree.

Know-How Big The Tree Is And Where Is It

You must know how big the tree is. Take a tape measure to measure around the tree trunk while being 4 ½ feet above the ground on the uphill side of the tree. If the tree bulges at 4 ½ feet, measure the tree’s circumference where it tapers below the 4 ½ feet foot point. This way, you can determine how big it is.

Finding out the location of the tree is important. You have to see whether it is located in a forest or on a road in a locality. To measure the tree’s length, use a yardstick and measure the distance from the yardstick on the ground to the tree’s base with the help of a tape measure. If you find the tree base to be 40 feet away from the stick, you can consider the tree’s top to fall down 40 feet from its base on the ground. This will help you avoid any injury when you cut or fell a tree.

Having The Right Chainsaw

It’s crucial to choose the right chainsaw depending on the type of tree you will work on. Whether it’s an electric chainsaw, a gas-powered chainsaw, or a battery-powered chainsaw, you have to give thought to the best one for your purpose.

The right chainsaw must be two inches longer when compared to the tree trunk’s thickness. For instance, if the tree trunk is 9 inches thick, you must get a chainsaw whose blade is at least 11 inches long. This way, you can easily cut the tree with one pass by implementing the open-faced notch tree cutting technique.

If you’re planning to use a chainsaw for cutting larger trees on a regular basis, then a chainsaw with a 20 inches long bar is the best choice for you. For smaller trees, you can work with a chainsaw blade of 16 inches long.

Also, remember to do through chainsaw inspection before you proceed to cut down a tree. This is best for your optimal safety and convenience at work. Do the following to inspect and maintain your chainsaw.

  • Use gas or electricity to ensure that the chain rotates at its desired pace.
  • Check the chain and see if it’s outfitted with teeth and spins around the blade or not.
  • Look for the chain brake and see if it automatically stops the chain from rotating motion during kickback or not. You can test it on any wooden piece of a tree.
  • See if all parts of your chainsaw, especially the nuts and bolts, are lubricated well enough or not. If yes, it avoids heat, friction, and stuttering from the machine.

Required Tools

You will always need additional tools for cutting down trees along with your chainsaw. You will need a depth gauge and the basic sharpening kit with the fitted size of your specific chainsaw.

Some other required tools for the task include:

  • Fresh fuel with fuel stabilizer
  • Logging kit with hook and felling wedges.
  • Coveralls, as woodcutting is mostly done in winter
  • Log dolly, which moves logs in sections.

Safety Equipment

When talking about safety while cutting down a tree, a first aid kit is the first crucial thing to take. You can also take safety measures with the help of an assistant, but the process may become lengthy.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is the most crucial thing you will need as safety equipment while cutting down a tree. These PPE items include:

  • Visual protection through goggles or helmet visors
  • Solid and protective helmet
  • Jackets and trousers with the best fit and chainsaw fabric
  • Boots like chainsaw boots or steel toe boots
  • Ear protection
  • Chainsaw helmet
  • Face screen, gloves, and chaps
  • Regular wear boots for backyard work
  • Logging boots for safety in the woods
  • Chainsaw mitt safe gloves

Assistant: You should also have an assistant or someone around to help you and observe the entire process. This is also a crucial step towards safety, as there would be some assistance handy whenever you need it the most.

How To Cut Down A Tree With A Chainsaw: Step-By-Step Guide

How To Cut Down A Tree With A Chainsaw: Step-By-Step Guide

Step 1: Check To Make Sure There’s No Obstructions Or Hazards Nearby

Ensure ample space for the tree to fall down without lodging or hitting any tree or other object. After roughly measuring the tree’s height, proceed to confirm that there are no structures, buildings, or power lines that could obstruct the tree after its cut down. Also, ensure no pets, people, or other obstacles like a private car in the radius. If you find the weather forecast to be raining or windy, postpone your program to cut big trees on some other day.

Step 2: Get Your Chainsaw And Safety Equipment

While working with chainsaws, it’s best to use safety equipment for staying protected. You can slide into a pair of leather boots to keep your feet protected optimally. You must wear a chainsaw long-sleeved top, pants, and jacket for guarding your arms and legs. Then, put on a protective helmet, some goggles, work gloves, and earbuds.

Experts always recommend the chainsaw for cutting tree trunks as they work more efficiently and smoothly than any axe. If you are cutting small or medium-sized trees, you can use a chainsaw with a 16-18 inches long blade, whereas for large trees, you can choose a chainsaw with a 20-24 inches long bar. If planning to cut a larger tree for firewoods, go for the chainsaw with a larger bar.

Step 3: Estimate The Exact Place Where The Tree Will Fall

For landing a leaning tree safely, you need to estimate and predict the place where the tree will fall. You can either use the tree’s lean as a guide or measure its total height to estimate the distance it will take on the ground after fall. Generally, the tree falls in the direction where it leans. Also, ensure that the ground is flat and even with ample space for the tree to fall down safely.

Step 4: Trim And Remove All Underbush Prior To Cutting Down The Tree

You will need a pair of pruning shears to trim away any trace of additional growth around the trunk of the tree, and if you find too many low-hanging branches of the tree, trim and remove them too. Once done, carry and throw away the debris far from the tree.

Step 5: Know Your Escape Route

Ensure to get away from the track where the tree falls quickly. You can begin by facing the other direction of where the tree will lean and fall. Then, take a turn at an angle of 45 degrees to your left, and follow it as your ideal escape route.

You must create the escape route, which is at least 15 feet long to keep yourself a safe distance away from a chopped-down tree. For additional safety precautions, you can plan your second escape route, which is 90-degrees to the right of the first planned escape path.

Step 6: Follow The Open-Faced Notch Cutting Technique Rather Than The Conventional Felling Notch Technique

The open-face notch technique is a part of the directional felling method introduced by Soren Ericson to North America and Europe. Now, this method is applied all over the world by the forest product industry. This method enables you to control the exact place where the tree shall fall. If you’re a rookie or a newbie, you can perform it with the help of guidance from any professional.

Step 7: Cut Down The First Portion Of The Notch

You must make the notch on the tree’s side where you want it to fall. Simply stand right to the point from where you will cut the notch. Moreover, cut into the tree trunk at an angle of 70-degrees while using the chainsaw horizontally. This way, you can cut the first half of the notch while continuing slicing till the point where you cut about ⅓ of the trunk’s way.

Step 8: Complete Cutting Down The Notch

Go beneath the 70-degree angle cut and proceed with a horizontal cut. Keep on holding the chainsaw this way while lining it up to the extreme bottom of the angled cut. You will find a triangular chunk of wood being removed and falling off the tree. It will create a flat bottom edge of the tree chunk in a triangular shape.

Step 9: Cutting Down The Tree’s Opposite Side

Now, take your chainsaw and line it up with the notch along the tree’s uncut side. Then, go for a smooth and clear horizontal line to cut down into the trunk. Prior to cutting, you can also hammer the felling wedges, but it’s optional. It means small triangle-shaped tools that ensure to complete your task of felling cut. While using any wedges, keep your chainsaw locked.

Step 10: Finish And Get Done With Your Felling Cut

When taking down a tree, you need to keep sawing the tree until it starts to give away. As the basic rule of thumb, you must stop cutting the tree when only 10% of its overall trunk is left between your felling cut and the notch. You will notice your tree starts to lean and fall. You must stand on the notch’s right side while keeping the chainsaw perpendicular to the trunk.

Step 11: Get Away From The Spot To Your Escape Route As The Tree Falls

As the tree starts to fall, you must move away at an angle of 45 degrees, as mentioned in step 5. Once you notice the tree start tipping, you must turn on the chain brake on the chainsaw and pull it out for safe tree removal. Then, go to your escape route for your safety and protection in the distance far away from the fall region.

How To Cut Down A Dead Or Rotten Tree

How To Cut Down A Dead Or Rotten Tree

Understanding the difference between a dead tree and a living tree is crucial. A dead tree usually comes with a lot of dead limbs that fall down easily. You can cut down a dead or rotten tree, somewhat similar to cutting a tree with a chainsaw. Below are a few ways to proceed and complete the task.

  1. You need to assess the tree and the area where it will fall. You can make a tree diagram depicting its measurements for better estimation. For instance, if the tree is 35m long, it will fall within the area of about 35m.
  2. Next, get all your safety gear, including helmet, gloves, goggles, chainsaw pants and jacket, boots, first aid, and more.
  3. Then, get all the tools that you need for cutting the dead tree. These tools are chainsaw, ropes, anchor pins, shovel, and wheelbarrow.
  4. Now, gently go up the ladder to tie very tight knots in the top end region of the tree, beneath the canopy. You can tie as many knots as you wish for its stronger pull.
  5. Start cutting the trunk in a diagonal way towards the direction where you want it to fall.
  6. Now, follow the steps to execute the open-faced notch cut technique as mentioned above for cutting trees with chainsaws.
  7. When everything is done, you will notice the dead or rotten tree falling downwards towards the direction where your anchor pins and ropes are faced.

What Happens When A Tree Is Lodged In Another Tree

When a tree is lodged in another tree, it becomes risky for the people as the branches can fall anytime with the uncertainty of the time and place where the tree will exactly fall. The situation becomes extremely dangerous to work on the premises. This becomes a death trap that can be fixed with machines run by professionals. In such situations, trees are often termed hung trees.

Here are certain things that you need to do during such times.

  • Don’t try DIY methods and always call professionals for the task.
  • Try to vacate the area if the tree is located on the road or in a busy neighborhood.
  • Take all the safety precautions to avoid any accidents on the site.

Tree Cutting Tips

  • If you have no experience in wielding a chainsaw, you need to start working with the smallest and lightweight chainsaw on small trees with proper safety gears. If the task involves cutting a large tree, go for professional assistance.
  • No matter what’s the size of the tree you’re cutting, never forget to wear all the personal protective equipment and other safety gear.
  • Clear out the trunk of all low-hanging branches.
  • Never miss out on your escape routes.
  • Always start cutting the tree with the open-faced notch.


The experience of cutting down a tree with a chainsaw can never go wrong if you stay ready with all the knowledge, skill, techniques, and steps for doing it efficiently. The first step for the best result from your tree cutting experience is getting the right size chainsaw for the task. Progressively, acquire all the insight, steps, tips, and ways to cut down any tree using a chainsaw with this guide. Always remember to wear your safety gear no matter how experienced you become. The key to cutting down a tree without mistakes lies within the proper technique, strength, determination, and confidence of the individual.

Everyone once started as a newbie in cutting trees, so don’t leave the enthusiasm if you fail to cut trees efficiently at first. I have no doubt that over time you will become a master in this process. So, get started today.

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