What Is the Correct Way to Chop Down a Tree?


Because trees can be quite large and heavy, cutting down a tree is not a task you should learn through trial and error. In addition to the personal injury that you could suffer from an accident, you could risk the safety of other or potential damage to property if the tree you are cutting down falls in an unplanned direction. Beginners who want to cut down a tree should learn the proper technique on tree with a trunk that is no more than 6 inches in diameter.

Step 1

Determine the directionin which you want the tree fall. Make your decision by factoring in external elements such as whether the tree is already leaning or if there is wind to push the tree in a certain direction.

Step 2

Plan an escape path down which you can flee if the tree falls in an unintended direction. Clear away any trees, rocks or other obstructions that could trip you along this path.

Step 3

Put on safety gear, including a hard hat, safety glasses, gloves, sturdy shoes, long pants and a long sleeved shirt. This will protect you from flying debris and accidental injury.

Step 4

Make a V-shaped notch in the trunk of the tree low on the trunk, but at a comfortable height from which to work. This notch should extend 1/3 of the way through the tree and should be approximately a 45-degree angle. The notch will face in the direction the tree will fall, and is the determining factor in which direction the tree will fall.

Step 5

Make a second cut that is approximately 2 inches above the point of the notch. The point will become the pivot point from which the tree will fall. The cut should extend 2/3 of the way through the tree trunk and should stop short of the notch.

Step 6

Step away from the tree as it begins to fall so that you are out of range of the trunk in case it bounces.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not attempt to cut down a tree if there are obstructions such as power lines in your way. Instead hire a professional tree service to cut the tree down.

Things You'll Need

  • Tree
  • Chain saw


  • University of Missouri Extension: Felling, Bucking and Limbing Trees
  • Mississippi State University Extension: Chain Saw Safety: Tree Felling

Who Can Help

  • Extension: How Do I Safely Cut Down a Tree?
Keywords: Cutting down Trees, felling trees, dropping trees

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."