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Felling The Tree

How to Remove a Tree

Before you start | Felling the tree | Removing the stump

Once you have decided that the tree needs to be removed and you have done your preparation, you are ready to fell the tree.  Your tool of choice will depend on the size of tree - a chainsaw for larger trees and a hand saw for smaller ones.  If you are not comfortable using a chainsaw, be sure to have someone with you who is.

Remember that removing a tree is a time-consuming effort.  Plan to spend most of the day - don't be in a big hurry to finish the job. Rushing can cause serious injury when using tools that you may not be completely familiar and comfortable with.



A proper undercut is essential to safely removing larger trees


1. Undercut : Serves as the guide or aim slot for the tree. It is a V-shaped notch cut into the side of the tree in the direction you want it to fall. The best V-shape is a 90 degree cut rather than the typical 45 degree cut. The 90 degree cut allows the tree additional room to fall before the top and bottom of the undercut comes together. The undercut should be about one-fourth of the tree's diameter in depth. Although trees up to 6 inches diameter can be cut clear through, I do not recommend it as the tree may fall upon itself and not move. To try to push it by hand may not guarantee that the tree will fall where you want it to.

2. Backcut : The backcut is made about 2 inches higher than the hinge part of undercut and on the opposite side. This backcut releases the stresses on the back of the tree allowing the tree to fall. NEVER make the backcut lower than the undercut. That reverses the role of the two cuts. NEVER cut through the undercut because you will lose all control of the tree at that point. The direction a tree falls can be closely controller with properly made undercuts and backcuts. At this point I would like to note that coniferous trees such as spruce, balsam, etc. are very sinewy and sappy and can bind up your chain saw and cause kick back, resulting in personal injury.

3. Once the tree starts to fall, shut off your chain saw and move down your chosen escape path. Do not stand at the base and admire your handiwork. Falling trees can bounce backward over the stump.

We are now assuming that your tree has fallen where you wanted it to and that it is laying solidly on the ground. 

4. The next step is called "Limbing".  Start removing branches at the bottom of the tree, working your way to the top, removing branches on the opposite side of the tree from you as you go. This gives you the protection of being on the opposite side of the tree from the chainsaw. Never stand on the downside of the fallen tree if you are on a slope . You could cut a branch that's holding the tree log and it could roll and trap you. Also at this point, check to ensure that you have not trapped an adjoining smaller tree creating what is called a "springpole".  

There is a tremendous amount of stored energy in these springpoles and they present one of the greatest hazards encountered during the limbing process. To release the springpoles, locate the apex of the springpole and cut it with the chainsaw or with a hand saw.

You are now left with the bare log.  If you are going to use the log as firewood, cut it into appropriate lengths, usually about 24 inches. Avoid running the chainsaw into the earth by cutting halfway through the log and then rolling the log to finish the cut. The branches are then cut to a length that is suitable for disposal and bundled, as dictated by your local collection bylaw.