Cutting down a tree can be a dangerous and time consuming job. Trees are large and heavy and when they fall will cause damage to anything they happen to hit. It takes planning and patience to fell a tree properly.
The first step in cutting down a tree is to make sure you have the right equipment. A tree of any size will require a chainsaw to fell. Make sure your chainsaw is in proper working order. A sharp chain is a must have. Dull chains not only take much more time to cut down a tree but are also less effecient and can bind the chainsaw up in the wood. Other pieces of equipment that may be required include axes, wedges, and a strong rope or chain.
Now that all your equipment is ready it’s time to examine the tree. Always pay attention to the characteristics of the tree. Which way is it leaning, how tall is it, and which way are most of the branches growing are all important questions that must be answered. Because trees are large plants, one must always be aware of what is on the ground around the tree. Always leave plenty of room on the ground around the tree so that when it falls it won’t hit anything. It’s always a good idea to clear a path at least 50% than the length or width of the tree you are felling. It is difficult to estimate the size of a tree while standing on the ground. By giving yourself an extra 50% you have a good cushion should your size estimate be off.
Next, look at the trunk of the tree. If it is leaning one way, it will be very hard to make it fall another way. Another consideration will be which way most of the limbs and branches are growing. Trees do not always grow in a symmetrical pattern. If there are an abundance of limbs on one side that will add weight to that side of the tree and give it a tendency to fall that way.
Once you have determined the path of the tree to the ground it is time to perform the cut. If your tree is located close to a house or other structure be very cautious. A good tip in this case is to attach a heavy rope or chain to the tree as high up on the trunk as you can. Tie this to a solid object located in a straight line with the direction you wish the tree to fall. This may help pull the tree back in line on it’s journey to the ground. This will typically not be able to change entirely the path but will certainly help to keep it in line.
The first cut in felling a tree should be a pie shape cut located on the side that you want the tree to fall toward. This cut should be between 1/4 and 1/3 of the way through the trunk. This will remove material from that side of the trunk and help the tree fall in that direction.
After this cut is made move to the other side of the tree and complete your cut. Start the final cut above the pie shaped cut on the other side and angle down toward it. This is the most dangerous part of the operation. Be very aware of any movement of the tree. Continue cutting until the tree starts to fall. Be aware of which way it is starting to fall. If you have made an error is assessing which way the tree will fall it is possible to get your chainsaw ‘pinched’ or hung up in the cut. If this happens not only will you need assistance to get your saw out but it may cause major damage to your bar and chain.
Once the tree starts to fall quickly remove your saw from the cut and move away quickly. Trees are unpredictable when falling and may even kick back the opposite way from your cut. The safest place to be is at least 20 feet away at a 90 degree angle from the direction of fall. Always watch closely until the entire tree is on the ground so you can react quickly if it begins to head your way.
If all these steps are followed, cutting down a tree can be a safe and effecient job.