Cutting down a tree is required for harvesting firewood, collecting a Christmas tree or simply taking out an ornamental plant that has grown too large to care for. Cutting down trees is a challenging task, particularly if you are cutting down larger trees. Chainsaws and hand saws are both sharp and require careful use. Larger trees can fall in unpredictable ways if you don't cut them down precisely. If you have never cut down a tree before, only attempt to cut down juvenile trees until you are comfortable with the process.
Examine the tree for safety hazards, such as an excessive lean in the tree, open wounds that indicate the tree is hollow, dead or hanging branches or obstacles such as utility lines. If you observe these warning signs, contact a professional for a second opinion before attempting to fell the tree.
Evaluate the lean of the tree and the direction of the wind to determine which direction the tree will fall.
Remove any obstacles, such as parked cars, from the tree's landing area.
Plot an escape path that you can take to move away from the tree when it begins to fall. Clear any debris such as roots or rocks that could trip you as you move away from the tree.
Cut a V-shaped wedge, called an undercut, into the side of the tree trunk. The wedge should be open in the direction that you want the tree to fall, and should only extend through 1/3 of the trunk. This will encourage the tree to fall in this direction.
Make a second cut, called a back cut, in the side of the tree opposite the wedge. The back cut should extend horizontally through the tree and should be slightly higher than the point of the back cut, and should stop just short of the back cut's point. As the back cut nears the undercut, the tree will tilt along the hinge of uncut wood between the two cuts and fall in the direction of the undercut.
Back away from the tree as it begins to fall. This will prevent you from being injured should the tree fall in an unpredictable direction or bounce.