Although trees with trunks less than 6 inches in diameter can be cut down with a single cut of a chainsaw, felling a larger tree requires considerable planning and should not be undertaken lightly. Wind direction, the condition and balance of the tree and operator escape route must be identified. The operator must clear the area around the tree and plan the direction of the fall to avoid buildings, and other trees and brush. Wear a hardhat, safety glasses, work boots and gloves from beginning to end for your safety.
Plan the position of the wedge cut, also known as notch or face cut. The cut must be perpendicular to the direction of fall. You must be able to complete the cut across the tree while standing in a position that allows you fast access to your escape route.
Make the first cut of the wedge across the tree, from one-quarter to one-third of the way into the tree trunk, with the chainsaw. Cut straight in or angle the bottom of the cut slightly upward.
Cut the top of the wedge with the chainsaw, also straight across the tree perpendicular to the direction of fall. Start 5 or 6 inches above the “undercut” and cut down to the end of the lower cut, forming a notch. Knock the wedge out of the trunk.
Begin a back cut about 2 inches above and absolutely parallel to the inside of the notch. The wood between the back cut and notch of the wedge will form a hinge for the tree as it falls toward the wedge. Stop cutting 4 to 5 inches from the notch and ensure that the hinge is equally deep on both ends of the notch.
Use two wedges, spaced evenly around the back cut to guide the tree. Tap both firmly with a large-headed sledge if the tree does not begin to fall with the back cut.