How to Cut Down a Tree

Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated October 4, 2023)

No matter how much people would like to think otherwise, there comes a time when that tree out front just has to go. Often times this is because they need to make way for some type of construction or addition to the home, if there is some change to the landscape, or even because the tree simply got to old. Before going out and simply cutting anything down, make sure that you know the proper way to cut down a tree.

Simply follow the instructions listed here, and you will learn how to cut down a tree. This article details how to deal with larger, older trees. Typically these types of trees have been around for a long time, and as such will have a trunk that is at least a foot in diameter. For anything that is too large (over two feet in diameter) you really should contact a professional to handle.

  1. Proper equipment. As with any type of project, the first real step in getting it done is to make sure that you have the proper tools. These tools include a chainsaw, hardhat, eye and ear protection, steel toed boots, work gloves, ladder, rope, hammer, wedge, and possibly someone to help. Once you have all of these items gathered together, proceed onto the next step.
  2. Tie it off. Tie some rope roughly 2/3 of the way up the tree so that you can help guide the tree in the direction that you want it to go. When it is time, you can have someone pull on this rope to help guide the tree towards where you want it to go. However, you want to make sure that your rope is long enough so that the person pulling on the rope will be out of the fall path of the falling tree.
  3. Initial cutting. Take a look at the tree, and decide on where you want the tree to fall. The direction that you want the tree to fall is going to be where you make the initial cut into the tree. At this time you may also want to cut and remove any lower tree limbs to help reduce the likely hood of them snagging or catching on something as the tree falls. The initial cut should only reach about 1/3 of the way into the tree, and is level. The second cut needs to be angled upwards to the back of the first cut, and in total create a wedge that has an angle of about 45 degrees.
  4. Back cut. On the opposite side of the large notch that you just cut, begin creating a second cut. This second cut is also known as the back cut, and needs to be slightly higher than the initial cut that you made. On average, this second cut will need to be about two inches higher, and is used to help prevent the tree from "kicking" back and hitting something. Do not cut all the way through, and leave a "hinge" of uncut wood that is roughly 1/10 of the diameter of the tree between the two cuts.
  5. Let it fall. Once you have finished with this second cut, the tree should begin to fall, but if not you can have your friend pull on the rope to help it get moving. Be sure to yell out "timber" and stay out of the way.
  6. Clean everything up. Once the tree is on the ground, it is time to begin clean up. You may need to cut the tree into smaller sections to help dispose of it properly. In order to do this, you may also need to trim off branches from the main trunk, while also cutting the tree into smaller sections. Use the now felled tree as either fire wood, mulching materials, or sell it off.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...


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