The Complete Guide: How to cut a tree down with a Chainsaw?

How to cut a tree down with a Chainsaw

Cutting a tree down is also known as felling down a tree. A chainsaw is a reliable tool when it is about cutting or felling down a tree. But is it really an easy task?

Well, it is not a child’s play to cut a tree down with a chainsaw. Because it requires a good amount of skill. For this reason, it is better to hire an expert for this job. But what to do if you don’t have access to a professional?

How to cut a tree down with a chainsaw by yourself? Don’t worry; in this article, we will teach you the process of how to cut a tree down with a chainsaw.

Certified arborist Mark Chisholm provides helpful and great safety tips for professionals on how to fell a tree.

Besides, you have to ensure some basic elements such as safety gear, planning, and strategy. We will talk about it also. Once you can start with the little one, it won’t take much time to get acquired with a big one such as oak. So, let’s jump into today’s segment.

A fell cut, or box cut are the few names I remember at the moment. Cutting down trees is highly dangerous and should only be performed by an experienced Arborist.

Cutting a tree trunk with a chainsaw –

  1. Mark the tree trunk at the desired length.
  2. Start sawing with the chain running slowly.
  3. Saw until about three-quarters of the way through.
  4. Use a felling lever to turn the trunk.
  5. Saw completely through at the same position on the other side.

How To Cut Down A Tree With A Chainsaw In 10 Steps

Safety is important when operating a chainsaw, mainly when felling a tree. Let us show you how to accurately use a chainsaw to safely fell trees. Knowing a few safety tips can assure a safe and successful job!

1. Ensure safety equipment

First of all, ensure all the types of safety equipment. Here is a shortlist of safety gears for cutting down a tree:

  • A hard hat for protecting your head.
  • Earplugs for the safety of ears.
  • Goggles to protect your eyes.
  • A pair of non-slippery gloves.
  • Still capped boot for decreasing possibility of a foot injury.
  • Kevlar chaps for protection of legs.

These are the essential things you should ensure before starting your work. These things can reduce the possibility of unpredictable injuries.

Check your saw to ensure it is working perfectly. Besides, check if there is any need for permits from the local authority. Because there are some specific places where you should take permission from the local authority to cut down a tree. You can use the online portal for more clearance.

Additionally, if you cut down a tree in your yard, and it is not likely to fall on the neighbor’s plot, then there is no need for a permit. But if there is any chance of felling down the tree on the neighbor’s land, it is better to take necessary permissions.

2. Survey the area

After the primary procedures, it is time to survey the area. Ensure that there are no obstacles around the tree. If there are any, clean it the way. However, it is a pretty common scenario that there can be houses or roads in the surroundings, or there are other trees around the targeted tree.

Therefore, it is better to hire a professional for this work if you face such a situation. Because it needs proper planning to cut down a tree in this type of area. Without an expert, it can become a disaster. But if the surroundings are clear, you are good to go to the next step.

3. Examine the tree

In the third step, you should carefully examine the tree. Is the tree healthy or lean? Are there any loose branches that could break above the head? Because these affect the cutting position of the tree. For this reason, it is better to check the tree to avoid inevitable circumstances.

4. Determine the fall path

After that, now you should determine the fall path. First of all, you have to find out the height of the tree. You can use a laser height measurement device to find out the height. If you don’t have a digital device, there is another way which is known as the “ax handle trick.” You have to take an ax or stick hold in your hand and keep the hand straight.

Now take a position into place from where the top of the stick is even to the top of the tree, and the bottom is even to the tree’s base. So, from the base of the tree to your position is the height of the tree. For safety, you can take some extra space. It will ensure a free fall route for the tree. Moreover, it reduces the chances of a throwback. Now remove the lower branches for more safety.

5. Plan an escape route

It is an important rule to make an escape route. You should stand in a safe position while cutting down the tree with a chainsaw. It is known as the felling retreat. To avoid accidents, never stay in front or back of the felling path.

The best and safest place is 45 degrees from the cutting position, which is the non-felling site. You should confirm at least two escape routes. While the tree is felling, keep a distance of at least 15 feet from the felling area.

6. Plan the notch

Here is the important part. Choose a comfortable height. Generally, it is around 1 to 2 feet from the base. Now imagine a notch on the side of the targeted fall path. Most importantly, it should be the heaviest side.

You can use chalk or a marker to mark the notch plan. You have to make space for at least three cuts, two on the front side and one on the back. The front cuts are known as the notch. A notch cut depth should be at least ¼ of the total diameter of the tree. There are three different front notches. 

  • Open-faced – It is a wide front notch around 70 to 90 degrees in the felling direction. This is the ideal notch for cutting.
  • Conventional – The bottom is flat, and the top comes down to the bottom at a 45-degree angle from the upper side.
  • Humbolt – It is the opposite of convention notch. The top is flat, and the bottom creates a 45-degree angle with the top.

7. Cut the notch

The most crucial part of cutting down a tree with a chainsaw. The notch depends on the tree size mostly. We have discussed them in the next part. In general, you should start cutting a conventional notch towards the felling direction. Cut a notch at least ¼ to ⅓ of the total tree’s diameter. Then leave at least 10% of the total thickness for the hinge.

8. Felling cut

Now it is time for the back cut, also known as felling. It is on the opposite side of the front notch or face notch. There are two different felling cuts for a tree. 

  1. If you have made an open-faced notch, then you should start a back cut on the same height and exact to the notched corner.
  2. If you go for a conventional or Humbolt notch, start cutting the felling cut from one inch above the horizontal cut.

While the felling cut, don’t be nervous. Stay on the course and keep your eyes on the tree. Start slowly and go constantly. You can use wages if the tree is too big. Don’t stop before you reach at least two inches away from the front notch. The tree should start felling at that time. Stop cutting at that moment and walk away from the tree toward a safe position.

9.Cut into logs

When the tree is down, go for limbing. Limbing means cutting down the branches and limbs. Start from the bottom and go to the top. After cutting the limbs properly, it is time for bucking. Bucking means cutting the tree trunk into manageable logs. Be careful while bucking and keep the chainsaw away from the ground. For safety, cut one-third of a side and then roll the log and cut another side. Here also start from the bottom for proper sizings, such as 16 inches long per log. 

10. Help from the professional

Though it seems very easy to cut a tree down with a chainsaw, you shouldn’t try without an assistant. For this reason, it is the best decision to hire an expert to avoid accidents. Because it requires skills, confidence, and proper equipment for cutting down a chainsaw.

How to cut down a large tree with a chainsaw?

How to cut down a large tree with a chainsaw

Sometimes when a tree gets too big too swiftly, the perfect way to deal with it is to kill it, let it dry out a bit, and then cut it down. If it’s close to a building, this can decrease some of the weight and make it less of an incident to fell.

To cut down a big tree, you should prefer the plunge cut which is also known as the bore cut. In this method, you have to cut a proper convention notch on the front side. Now start cutting from the side of the tree.

Remember to keep at least 2% of the total diameter for the hinge. Now put your chainsaw’s nose directly to the tree tank behind the hinge and push it for cutting parallelly with the directional notch.

Make a horizontal cut at the opposite side. Remember, there shouldn’t be any contact with the front notch. Then make a back cut for cutting down the rest of the tree at the bore cut’s exact position. 

How to cut down a small tree with a chainsaw?

small tree with a chainsaw

To cut down a small tree, you can choose any front notch which is suitable for you. Maximum arborist goes with the open-faced and conventional notch. The back cut depends on which front cut you have chosen.

Ensure you put safety first and if the tree is large then ask should you be doing it yourself. Big is relative and as you are asking go online and search for a youtube tutorial on cutting down trees.

The best way to cut down a tree with a chain saw

If you have to ask, please don’t. You can’t imagine how heavy a tree, even a small one, is until it falls on something you didn’t want it to fall on.

If you’ve never done it before, get someone who has, to demonstrate. If the person is missing any of their body parts, get someone else.

One of the most difficult things to learn is reading the log tension of a tree that is on the ground. When bucking I like to start at the top and then rotate the saw away from me so that the saw cuts through the far half of the log.

You can only do this if the log is high enough off of the ground to get clearance for the bar. Then bring the saw underneath and cut upwards through the lower near side. Once halfway through bring the saw up top and work it down to finish the cut. Have some wedges because at some point you will get pinched. until you know which the tension in the tree is.

If really want to learn seek assistance from a state or US government forestry extension.

They can teach you all you need before you injure or cut off one of your “limbs” or hurt anyone else.

Can I cut down a tree with a chainsaw when it is wet or is it better to wait until it dries?

Having probably watched several thousand trees felled in my Logging Engineer career, I would say that 99% of the trees are felled as live/green trees and the remainder as snags or dead trees. So for a professional, he/she cuts where the trees are and in just about any weather, except for high winds. I have even seen trees having to be dug out of snow to get down to stump height as high stumping of good trees is not allowed.

Also, professionals will fell trees in conditions that most people would not believe: extremely steep, very brushy, leaners, poor footing, using springboards and more.

Also, dead trees/snags are generally the most dangerous due to unknown wood conditions in the bole, loose and falling limbs and bark, tops possibly breaking out, and poor stump holding wood.

Hand felling is still very dangerous, but with harvesters where they do the felling with machines, like feller bunchers, it has gotten safer. For smaller trees, pieces cut per day is more important than MBF/tree.

Dry timber is harder than green one, and most trees are cut down while still green. If I have to cut any of my trees, I cut them green. OUCH!

The most effective method for cutting a tree down with a circular saw

Please don’t do this. You’re going to hurt yourself.

If it’s a small tree, buy or borrow a bow saw (they’re cheap) and use it to notch and fell the tree.

If it’s a big tree, hire a professional to do the job. They’re still cheaper than a hospital stay.

How do you cut a tree stump with a chainsaw?

I’m assuming you have some idea of how to use a chainsaw. If you don’t, get in-person instruction from someone who does.

  1. Wear appropriate safety gear
  2. Clear brush etc from around your stump, so you have a clear working area.
  3. Using sensible tools, pull earth away from around the stump, so you can cut it off at ground level. You don’t want to cut the earth.
  4. If you have an old bar and chain, save them for cutting near the ground. Getting earth and such like on your chain blunts it fast, so keeping a ‘dirty work’ set stops you from wrecking good chains.
  5. Now carefully cut your stump horizontally. Work carefully and methodically round the stump.
  6. If it is an awkward shape, don’t be afraid to take it off in sections.
  7. If any edges stick up above ground level, cut them off at an angle, so they won’t catch stuff.
  8. If you want it to rot faster, cut some grooves in the top to encourage water to sit in it.
  9. Push the earth back around it.

How do you cut a large tree trunk with a small chainsaw?

Depends on if you mean cut as in cutting down a standing tree, or cut as in cutting up an already fallen or felled tree.
To cut down a standing tree, I really prefer to use a saw with a bar comfortably longer than half the diameter of the tree. Otherwise, you have to get “artistic”, which adds to the risk considerably.

For cutting up an already downed log, I’m content as long as the bar is half the diameter. Even that isn’t strictly required, but “beavering” through – cutting out chunks to reach through is quite tedious.

There is lots of good advice here on methods. I will add that if you are felling a tree anywhere near power lines or structures then call a professional removal service. They will remove the tree from the top down in a safe manner.

Logging Workers Tops the list of the most dangerous jobs in America. Think about that and respect it.

How do I cut logs with a chainsaw?

“YOU” don’t because based on the question you do not even know how to use a chainsaw and you would probably hurt yourself. The chainsaw is the most unforgiving tool I have and it demands respect. I once read the average chainsaw would require 110 stitches.

A woodsman went to the hardware in town to get a saw. The hardware guy talked him into a chainsaw. It is much faster and easier, he said.

In a few days, the woodsman came back and said: This saw is slower and harder, I want my money back.

The hardware guy took the saw, pulled the rope, and started the saw, to check it out.

The woodsman said: What is that noise?


So, what is the best way to cut down a tree with a chainsaw? As you can see, there are different methods to cut a tree down with a chainsaw. If you are going for this operation on your own, read the chainsaw guidance, take proper equipment, make an appropriate plan, and cut down the tree.

Besides, check tutorials on youtube and other platforms to learn more about how to cut a tree down with a chainsaw. However, we will always suggest you to take help from a professional to avoid trouble.

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