Cutting tools like pruning shears and pole saws can help prepare a tree for felling, while axes or saws do the heavy work of cutting through the trunk. Climbing gear, rigging, ladders and smaller tools are helpful on larger trees. Safety gear is essential for a safe working environment.
Saws are the tool of choice for felling trees. Small hand saws can be used to trim branches to limit leaf litter. Smaller chainsaws or bow saws can be used to remove larger limbs. Bigger chainsaws or a handheld saw--known as a buck saw--are best for cutting through larger trunks. Pole saws can cut branches in less accessible parts of the tree.
While saws tend to be more effective at bringing trees down, the axe is the traditional tool for the job and has been used for thousands of years in one form or another. A heavy, sharp-bladed instrument with a long handle is swung at the tree, removing large chunks of wood on impact. A well sharpened axe is a safer axe, as a sharp blade will cut straight and true, rather than glancing off and possibly causing injury. Smaller axes, commonly called hatchets, are used to fell smaller trees.
Made of wood, metal or plastic, wedges of various sizes and angles can assist in taking down a tree. When a partial cut is made on the back side of the tree, a wedge can be used to hold the cut open to allow the saw blade to move as freely as possible. Wedges can also help to direct the fall of a tree by exerting a lifting force.
Professional tree trimmers use climbing gear and rigging to ascend into trees that are being removed. This gear allows them to more safely and freely move about in the canopy to inspect the tree and to cut and remove branches. Rope, harnesses, pulleys and blocks, lowering cranks and loop fasteners are among the tools used. Specialized spikes, called climbing spurs, which fasten to the lower legs and feet, are sometimes employed with a loop harness that wraps around the tree to climb straight trunks.
Sometimes a ladder is all that is needed to reach parts of the tree to be removed. Simple fruit picker's ladders, with a single stilt support, can help to get close to the tree for easier limb removal. Extension ladders can provide access to the upper areas of the tree canopy when climbing gear is not necessary.
Equipment for safety is often overlooked, but is an essential part of the work. Hard hats, eye and hearing protection, protective clothing and gloves are all important. For professionals, colored vests, signal flags, marking tape to identify work areas, climbing helmets, heavy duty footwear and communication tools, such as a walkie talkie, make for a safer working environment.
Other Hand Tools
Other tools include pole pruners, long-handled loppers, hand pruning shears and hedge trimmers. A bucking frame is a useful tool for holding logs that are being cut into more manageable sections. Small carts and dollies are also handy for moving debris and logs from the work site.