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Safely and efficiently cutting down a tree with a chainsaw Follow



If you have extensive grounds, possibly woodland on your property or perhaps a small or large orchard, thicket, copse or even just a couple of trees, there may come a time when you need to take one down. 

It may have become diseased, may need moving for construction or re-designing purposes, it may simply be in the way or be creating too much shadow or the roots may be doing damage to your house.

Most people would approach a professional and this is absolutely the right decision for most people, as it takes skill and planning and is potentially hazardous, particularly if the tree is very large, in a difficult place or there are any other site issues.

If you do have a tree of a size and location you can handle, You will need to be experienced with your chainsaw, fit and alert, sober, sensible and totally prepared. If you have any doubts at all,  the experts say don't do it! 

A chainsaw is a good, fast and efficient way of cutting down or felling a tree but there are a number of important factors to consider before and during the process. Here are some tips that will hopefully help you to carry out this task safely and accurately. 

1. Take a good look at what is around the tree. Try to work out the approximate height and look for a clearance area at least the same distance in metres as the height of the tree. If there are objects around or near the tree (greenhouse, fence, statue, garden furniture, washing line etc) they will have to be moved, at least temporarily, if you want to take the tree down safely. In woodland you will have to think about other trees around it. 

2. Decide exactly where the tree will land after cutting and make doubly sure the area is cleared to a good distance. A radius that clears the tree by several metres more than its height is preferable.

3. Decide on an escape path at a 45° angle to the back of the tree (i.e the opposite side to the way it is due to fall). Clear anything from around the tree and make sure pets, children and anyone else) cannot get near.  

4. Make sure your chainsaw is fully fuelled (or charged) sharpened and that all the safety features are fully operational.

5. Wear appropriate clothing. You should wear a proper safety helmet when using a chainsaw under all circumstances but particularly when cutting down a tree. You also need ear-defenders, a visor, good quality heavy-duty gloves, heavy, preferably steel-toed, shoes or boots and tough and heavy-duty clothing, chainsaw proof if you have it.

6. The first cut is a 'Horizontal cut'. It should be around hip height and will determine the depth of your 'Wedge' or 'Notch' cut. It should never be more than a third of the tree's width. If you have a pro chainsaw it may well have sights (known as 'gunner's sights) that help with this - check your manual.  

7. The Wedge or Notch cut is the next step. this cut should be up to the back of the horizontal cut at 45°, leaving a wedge shaped hole. Make sure the cuts meet. (see image below)


8. The Back cut (felling cut) this cut is made at the rear of the tree, opposite to your other cuts. make it slightly higher than the previous cut (see image above). You need to make enough room to slip a wedge in. Drive in the wedge then keep cutting without touching the wedge. DON'T cut right through. When the tree starts to fall, move carefully down your planned escape route. 

Then, when everything is settled, you can start to limb the tree (take off the branches) and then buck it (cut up the trunk into logs). This is an effective way of making the tree easy to move and a practical way to create firewood for a wood burning stove or fireplace.  

Here are some general dos and don'ts on Chainsaw safety and a list of accredited chainsaw safety equipment you should think about before undertaking a task like this. 

We also have a large range of tree felling chainsaws available to buy

If you decide this task is too much, here is a link to a useful directory of approved tree surgeons

Good luck. 


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