How to Safely Cut Down a Tree with a Chainsaw
If you have to remove a tree from your property, safety should be your first and most important consideration. While the basics of operating a chainsaw aren’t complicated, using one to cut down a tree requires plenty of other equipment, not to mention solid attention to detail. Before you begin trying to perform a task like that, it’s important to be well-prepared. Read on for more information about how to cut down a tree with a chainsaw:
Decide If This Is a Job You Want to Perform Yourself
While learning how to cut down a tree with a chainsaw is certainly something you can do on your own, it should be noted that, in many cases, it’s not worth it to do so. Many people think that DIYing a task such as this one will save them money, but because there’s so much equipment involved, this may not be the case.
Hiring a professional from Mr. Tree might indeed be cheaper than doing the task on your own because you won’t have to stock up on expensive materials. There’s also the time commitment to consider. Cutting down a tree is a big job and removing it from your yard afterward might be an even bigger one. However, if you’re willing to put the time, money, and effort into performing the task properly, it’s possible to pull it off.
Start with the Right Chainsaw
Not all chainsaws are created equal, and you’ll need to find the right one to perform your task. There are many different varieties available, of various sizes and power levels. How do you choose?
The size of the guide bar (or blade) is an important factor. It should be at least two inches longer than the thickness of the tree trunk. For larger trees, this means you’ll need a chainsaw with a fairly long guide bar, sometimes over 20 inches in length. It’s possible to switch out the guide bar for a longer one, but you can’t go more than one size up because the engine on the chainsaw won’t be able to provide enough power for a size that is too large.
Speaking of engine power, you’ll need to make sure you select a chainsaw model that has the power to cut through a tree trunk. This, of course, is no easy task. Gas-powered chainsaws are the best bet for this, as they generate more torque and are more mobile than electric varieties.
Stock Up on Safety Equipment
The vast majority of injuries that occur when cutting down trees are preventable. The right safety equipment will help you to avoid getting hurt while you perform the task. Long sleeves, long pants, and closed-toe reinforced work boots are a must, as is a helmet, eye protection, and gloves. Hearing protection is critical too since you’ll be working with a chainsaw, which can be incredibly loud. Felling wedges are a necessity in order to prevent the chainsaw bar from getting stuck inside of the tree trunk.
If you think you’ll need to climb into the tree to cut any limbs or branches, you’ll need ropes and climbing equipment as well. Equally important to safety when learning how to cut down a tree with a chainsaw is having a partner. Don’t attempt to perform such a task yourself. An extra person to help look out for your safety is an absolute must.
Make a Plan
Before you get started with the job, make sure you have set aside a block of time with which to do it. You’ll need a solid weekend to cut down a tree and remove it. This isn’t a task you can perform in a single afternoon. Spend some time clearing away any debris as well as any furniture or other items that might end up in the path of the tree as it falls.
You’ll want to estimate the exact path of the tree’s fall, which you can do by closing one eye and backing away from the tree with an ax in your hand. When the top and bottom of the tree are aligned with the top and bottom of the ax, stop walking. Where you are standing is where the top of the tree is likely to land. Make sure this area is clear.
Remember that, while you can usually guide the tree downward in the direction you want, you may not be able to if the tree is lopsided and heavier on one side. In that case, you will have to allow it to fall where it naturally leans. If that means a house or other structure is in its path, it’s time to call in a professional for tree removal.
Begin the Job
Once you’ve thoroughly prepared to perform the task of cutting down your tree, you can actually begin the job. You’ll start by making a notch cut at about one-fifth of the diameter of the trunk on the side you want the tree to fall toward. The notch shouldn’t be too high in the trunk of the tree, but it doesn’t need to be particularly low either. Simply put it at a level that is comfortable for you to work. If you need to, you can also draw out the shape of the notch with chalk first.
On the other side of the trunk, you’ll make a felling cut. Use your felling wedges as you cut to prevent the trunk from pinching the bar of your chainsaw. This is where your partner will come in. They will need to serve as a lookout, letting you know if the tree is starting to fall or if anything is falling from above you. As soon as your partner alerts you that the tree is falling, you must both step out of the way and let the tree drop. Have your escape route planned ahead of time.
Clean Up Afterward
Once the tree has been felled, you will need to remove the trunk from your property. You may be able to sell the wood and earn some money. Contact a tree service such as Mr. Tree to help you with this. You will also probably need to remove the stump. The easiest way to do this is by renting a stump grinder. Note that these are pricey and difficult to transport, however. In many cases, you will still be better off hiring a tree service to perform the removal for you.