cutting down a tree

Steps to cutting down a tree

Before you begin to cut down a tree, speak with your local government and your surrounding neighbors, so they are aware of what may happen.

It may be against some jurisdictions to cut trees down in public places. If you are planning on cutting down a tree on your own yard, please be sure to take the necessary precautions to prevent the tree from falling on some other person’s property, as well as taking precautions to be sure the tree does not fall on your own property that you wish to avoid (ie, your house). It may not be appropriate to remove your own tree if you lack the safety equipment to guide the tree down safely.

Tools and Materials for Cutting a Tree Down

In order to safely chop a tree, you should have protective gear:

  1. Hard hat
  2. Eye protection
  3. Hearing protection
  4. Work gloves
  5. Steel-toe boots
  6. Chainsaw protective gear
  7. Chaps

You will also need:

  • A chainsaw
  • Chainsaw Bar and chain oil
  • Felling wedges

Before operating, be sure to know how to use the chainsaw correctly and follow its specific safety recommendations. For larger trees which may be near a structure, trees that you want to cause to fall on the opposite side of their lean, rotting trees, or trees which you feel uncomfortable handling, please be sure to call a professional.

Observation

Before taking the chainsaw to the tree, please look at the surrounding area. Be sure there are no power lines, people, or pets that are near the tree. Measure the height of the tree and use that number to draw a circle around the tree. That circle is the radius of the tree. Before removing a tree, please make sure there is nothing at least within 1.5 times the radius of the height of the tree.

Picking a Fall Direction

Once the area around the tree is clear, pick a direction that you wish for the tree to fall. Usually, that is in the direction the tree naturally leans towards. If you are not able to make the tree fall in the direction of its lean, you may rather call a professional.

Remove the Surrounding Branches

Even though you have a clear radius around the tree, you want to be sure to rid yourself of any branches or leaves which may be protruding from the tree, lest you have splinters and possible projectiles spring forth from the tree as it lands. Removing the branches of a tree is called “limbing” the tree. Start removing branches from the base of the tree. You are able to have the chain of the saw pull the saw towards you, known as cutting with a pulling chain, or have the saw go in the opposite direction, pushing the saw towards you, which would make the chainsaw a pulling chain. Some limbs are bent under the tree and are able to spring back once tension is left, causing a danger to other people. This makes it especially useful for you to avoid altogether until the tree falls, so you do not end up being the person that has the tension released on. Other types of cuts are better made at certain angles and cuts, such as offsetting cuts. Large branches or branches on the underside may require different maneuvers, based on the working heights of a cut.

Making the Cuts to Guide the Tree Down

You position yourself to cut the tree in a way which will allow it to fall down smoothly. It is helpful if you are able to orient yourself so you do not accidentally cause the tree to fall in the opposite direction you are intending. With your feet square and your shoulders leaning against the tree, make a 70 degree cut on the side facing the direction you desire the tree to fall. Start at the side of the tree where you desire it to fall and continue at a 70 degree angle from the ground to make your cut. Some chainsaws have a felling site on the housing, so you are able to use that as a guide for this cut. The cut does not go all the way down to the base of the tree. It actually extends down to approximately a quarter of the tree’s diameter.

After making a cut down from the edge of the tree to approximately a quarter of its total height of the base and make a horizontal cut to cause a notch to form in the tree. Once you form this notch, go to the opposite side and make a horizontal cut that is slightly higher than the previous cut. You want to leave approximately 10 percent distance between the edge of one cut and another cut.

As you cut through, be sure to keep your chainsaw from being caught in the wedge. Also, avoid the tree with your chainsaw, lest you prematurely let it fall.

If any problem occurs, your chainsaw gets accidentally caught in the wedge, the tree falls on a person, property, or a direction opposite where you intend, or if the tree falls into another tree, please call a professional.

Removing the Stump

Just causing the tree to fall is not the end of the road. Some people choose to leave the stump behind. However, if you do not like the sight of the stump or would rather have the land cleared, it makes sense to have the stump removed. You are looking for where the wood may compress and pinch together where the saw is going through. Note that when you are cutting the stump, you want to make sure the saw does not get trapped in the pinch of the trees. You also want to make sure that you cut the stump into manageable sizes and stack them away or use them as fertilizer for the rest of the greenery.

In all these steps, the number one concern is to remain safe. There is no need for anyone to be hurt in removing a tree, so we advise every person who is engaging in this to consult an expert tree service to go over the safety information one more time and consult with professionals before doing this themselves. Materials for a project like this may be sold from your local tree service or over at Lowe’s. Mistakes may be costly and worth more than the help of a professional.

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