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Before getting down to business, assemble the tools and gear that you’ll need. At the very minimum, you will need the following equipment:
- Protective Gear– People get injured while felling trees all the time. Reduce the risk by wearing Kevlar leg coverings, a hard hat, steel toe boots, heavy-duty gloves and goggles.
- First Aid Kit– In case something goes awry, have medical supplies readily available.
- Chainsaw– Make sure the chainsaw has a sharp chain, a full tank of oil and gas and that it works properly.
Examine the Tree First: 4 Questions to Consider Before Cutting a Tree
You’ll have an easier time cutting a tree if you’ve taken a good, hard look at it. Answer these questions before you start:
- Does it lean in one direction or another?
- Are there dead or broken branches?
- Is there a clear area where it can safely fall without damaging anything?
- Are branches from a nearby tree in the way?
While you’re at it, figure out a quick and easy escape route. If things don’t go as planned, you need to be able to get as far away from the tree as quickly as possible. Ideally, you should try to run behind another tree if the tree you are cutting doesn’t fall like it should.
Steps for Cutting Down a Tree
Follow these steps to increase the safety and efficiency of your tree-cutting experience:
- Sound it Out– Knock against the tree with your ax. If it sounds hollow, it may be dead or dying. If it sounds solid, it is live wood and will be more difficult to cut. Do this at different points and heights. With any luck, you’ll find a spot that will make the cutting a lot easier.
- Figure Out Where it Will Fall– Does the tree have a tendency to lean one way or another? It’s easiest and best to choose a drop zone that falls where the tree naturally wants to land. Try to choose a spot that is level, or the tree could roll, bounce or otherwise move and cause damage or injuries.
- Make a Horizontal Cut– This cut should not be higher than your hip, and it should extend no more than one-third of the way into the tree. Keep in mind that the tree will fall perpendicularly to this horizontal cut.
- Make a Wedge Cut– The slice that is produced by this cut should look like a slice of orange. Whether you make it from the top or bottom of the horizontal cut, put a stick on the other side of the horizontal cut to ensure a straight wedge cut.
- Make a Back Cut– This cut will determine how thick your holding wood is, which is the piece that will determine how the tree will fall. Try to make it as thick as possible. Figure out where you want the back cut to terminate and mark it on the tree. It should be at least 1.5 inches above the horizontal cut for best results. As you cut, place a wedge to prevent the tree from settling onto the chainsaw.
- Be Ready– As your back cut is completed, you should end up with an even holding wood. Either that, or the tree will begin to fall. Keep adding more wedges as necessary. Be ready to run at any moment.
- Run– When the tree is on its way down, use your escape route to get safely clear of it. Don’t turn your back on it. By keeping your eye on the falling tree, you can dramatically reduce the risk of being seriously injured.