Cutting Down a Tree

As a homeowner, you may have a lot of different reasons for cutting down a tree on your property. It could have suffered weather damage, it could be dead, or you may need the space it’s occupying for other purposes. Or you may just love breaking out your power tools (we won’t judge you).

No matter the reason you have for cutting, felling a tree is not simply something you do without careful preparation and guidance. In this article, we will show you some of the essential steps needed to cut down a tree that are not only going to get the job done but also get it done safely. 

Step One: Conduct a Safety Check

You’ll not only be working with some powerful and potentially dangerous tools, but you will also be cutting down something that’s large and unwieldy. Before you do anything else, you’ll want to do some assessment of yourself and your surroundings to make sure you are ready to do this safely. 

You will want to:

  • Dress for your personal protection. Think helmet, gloves, earplugs, and eye protection. You’ll be safe and look super cool.
  • Check that your equipment is in good working order.
  • Assess the surrounding areas for obstructions. Look for power lines, tripping hazards, and anything else in your work area that may cause harm.
  • Create an escape route. Know where you’re going to get out of the way should you need to. A good rule of thumb is a minimum of 15 feet from the stump at 45 degrees from the direction of the fall. 

Remember: This is a big DIY project. Your safety should be first and foremost before you begin the rest of the project. 

Step Two: Prepare the Cutting Zone

Cut away any brush that may be around the trunk of the tree and clear two escape routes on the non-falling side of the tree. Clearing the area prior will ensure you aren’t tripping or becoming entangled at the moment the tree is falling. 

Step Three: Creating a Notch

Your first cut should be a notch on the falling side of your tree. We have a variety of chainsaws to choose from to rent for this part of your project. 

On the side of the tree you want to fall, slice down the trunk at a 70-degree angle until you are about ⅓ of the way through the trunk. Make sure the bottom of this cut is no more than two feet above the ground. Remember — you can always trim trunks later. 

Next, cut horizontally in the tree at the bottom of your first cut. When those two cuts meet, you’ll have a notch. 

Step Four: Insert Your Wedges

Once you have your notch cut, begin your felling cut on the opposite side, but only go far enough to insert your felling wedges. Your felling cut should be parallel and even to the apex of the notch you’ve created. Pound your wedges into the felling cut. These wedges will prevent your saw from being pinched if the tree should lean back during cutting. FYI- saws hate being pinched, even if they’ve forgotten to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day.

Step Five: Begin Cutting

With all your preparation, this part is simple. Begin cutting the tree along that parallel line to the apex of the notch you created. As soon as you feel the tree leaning, pull your saw free and walk away along one of your escape routes. 

NEVER take your eye off the tree. You can plan and measure all you want, but a tree may still not fall the way you envisioned it. Make sure you have a clear visual so that you can react and reach safety. 

Step Six: Disassemble the Felled Tree

Start by sawing off any branches on the tree until it is just a log. Next, begin sawing the log you’ve created into manageable pieces for firewood or however you want to use them. If you’re looking to create mulch or dealing with branches that aren’t easily stackable, consider renting one of our wood chippers to make your stack of wood more manageable. 

If you don’t have the right tools for your DIY tree removal, Northside Tool Rental has everything you need for the big job. Contact one of our experts today to discuss what tools you need and how we can fully equip you to get the job done.