How to Cut Down a Tree With a Chain Saw


Removing a tree yourself is a dangerous task, but can be done if you are experienced with a chainsaw and have a friend to help. Be sure to follow the steps closely and use all safety equipment. The most important part of this project is figuring out which way you want the tree to fall and making that happen.

Step 1

Gear up. Wearing protective gear is imperative to the safe operation of a chainsaw. Safety googles and protective gloves are the minimum protective gear you should wear.

Step 2

Observe the tree and make some decisions. Is the tree trunk wider than the blade on your chainsaw? If it is, you should not be cutting the tree down without professional assistance.

Step 3

Look for obstacles that might be in the path of the tree as it falls. Check for power lines, vehicles and structures, especially at the height of the tree. Determine if the tree leans toward one side and if it can be cut to fall the direction it is leaning.

Step 4

Plan an escape route away from the falling tree. Make sure nothing blocks your path. Run away perpendicular to the falling tree as it may shift and fall in the opposite direction of the intended fall.

Step 5

Prune the smaller branches on the side opposite the way you want the tree to fall. Creating additional weight on the side where you want it to fall will help control the tree's fall. Check for dead branches which might shift and cause injury during the cutting process.

Step 6

Plan to ut the tree on the side where you want it to fall. This should be on the same side the tree leans toward. If you cannot cut the tree to fall the way it leans, abandon the project and seek professional help.

Step 7

Cut a triangular wedge out of the tree on the side where you want it to fall. The notch should be flat on the bottom and the angle cut should be at about 60 degrees. The notch should go about one third of the way through the trunk.

Step 8

Cut through the tree on the side opposite the notch and about 2 inches higher up the trunk. Stop when the tree begins to fall or with about an inch left. If the tree has not begun to fall on its own, push slowly in the direction you wish it to fall.

Step 9

Move quickly away from the falling tree. Stop when you have reached a distance that the tree cannot reach.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not operate a chainsaw if you are on medication or drinking alcohol.

Things You'll Need

  • Chainsaw
  • Safety goggles
  • Leather or Kevlar protective gloves
  • Pruning sheers


  • University of Minnesota Extension: Safe Chainsaw Use
Keywords: chainsaws, felling a tree, cutting down trees

About this Author

Lucinda Gunnin is a trained and experienced print reporter with almost two decades of experience in the media business. She holds a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield and undergraduate degrees from Adams State College in Colorado. Gunnin has been published in numerous newspapers and magazines and has her fiction published in the anthology "Elements of the Soul."