How To Cut Down A Tree – Professional Tips and Tricks

We’ve had this silver maple tree in our backyard since we had moved into our new house five years ago. It seemed harmless and a good place to put up a treehouse for our daughter, so we let it be. That is until one stormy day. We were inside the house, and the maple tree sounded like it was ready to crush us alive. The only option then was to cut it down. Well, this did not prove to be safe either.

I’ve been cutting trees for a living for more than five years now, and I knew exactly what I had to do to get rid of the maple tree. If you are in the same situation as I had been, here are some tips that you can use:


So how to fell a tree without endangering yourself and anyone around the area? Here are tips and tricks that have been proven to be effective. 

Tip 1: Check whether you need a permit or not

Some municipalities and states require people to get a permit before they fell a tree. If you don’t want to end up paying a hefty penalty fee, you need to inform yourself of your local laws.

You can search for your state or local ordinances online. However, you usually have to go to the town hall to get the permit.

Tip 2: Wear the Right Safety Gear

You’ve seen instances of cutting trees down gone wrong. Avoid experiencing the same thing by wearing your safety gear.

Before cutting down a tree in your yard, wear your helmet, earmuffs, face screen, safety glasses, hand gloves, and kevlar chaps. Though these may hinder your movements a little, it’s a small price to pay for your safety.

Tip 3: Assess the area around the tree

If you want to learn how to fell down a tree, you should also learn how to assess the area around it first.

Look for overhead hazards like hanging limbs and powerlines.

Are there other trees next to the one you’re planning to cut? If so, you might want to cut the branches that will get in the way first.

Then, stand in the spot where you want the tree to fall. Pay careful attention to where the wind is blowing as this may affect the fall. Hold your hands up just enough to encircle the tree’s canopy. This will help tell you the lean of the canopy.

Keep this lean in mind for you need it when you make your notch cut later on. Just to make sure that you’ve made the right estimate, walk to the other side of the tree and repeat the process. 

Tip 4: Cut the notch towards the felling direction

The notch is composed of two intersecting cuts that perpendicularly converge to where you want your tree to fall. As a rule of the thumb, you should make its depth one-fifth of the trunk’s diameter. Your goal is to make the angle 60°/30°.

If your tree is leaning, like mine did, you’d want to overcompensate and aim to cut it in the opposite direction. It’s because the tree will most likely fall towards the lean.

Tip 5: Make the hinge or bore cut

Some people have learned how to fell a tree without making a hinge.

For me, this is a stupid move as it is one of the tree cutting techniques that ensures your safety.

You want the tree to land on the exact spot you’ve planned it to land.

In making a bore cut, take your chainsaw and plunge it straight through the trunk.

Make sure that this cut is 1-2 inches away from the notch cut. Push your saw all the way through the other side of the trunk. 

Then, insert a wood wedge into the bore cut. Go to the other side of the tree and do the same process.

Tip 6: Create the felling cut

Here comes the most dangerous part of felling down a tree. You need to score a line that connects the apex of the notch for your back cut. This will serve as your guide.

You want your felling cut to be exactly in line with your notch.

If you notice that the tree starts to lean, pull your chainsaw free. Set the chain brake.

Then, walk away from the tree. See if the tree is starting to fall.

If not, you might want to make a deeper felling cut.

If you’re planning to learn how to fell down a tall tree by yourself, you need to be extra careful. Still, having a lookout is better. 

Tip 7: Start with the branches and trunk

tree trunk branches

Cutting down a tree in sections will make it easier for you to carry, use, or dispose it. Before you begin, you might want to check your chainsaw first. Does it have enough power to perform the job? If not, you should learn how to find the best professional chainsaw.

Start with the branches at the lower end of the trunk. Stand on the uphill side of the trunk while you’re working. This is the most efficient and safest way in felling down a tree in pieces using your chainsaw. Once all the branches are gone, cut the trunk in chunks. 

Mistakes You Can Make When Cutting Down a Tree With a Chainsaw


If you’ve survived cutting your first tree without any cuts in the face and body, congratulations! You have done a great job.

However, it’s not enough that you know how to fell a tree. You must also learn about the things you should avoid doing while cutting a tree; they don’t tell you this at school.

Here are some mistakes you don’t want to commit when felling down a tree with a chainsaw:

Mistake 1: Not wearing protective gear

I’m not exaggerating when I say that you can die while cutting a tree if you are not careful.

Do not underestimate the importance of your safety gear if you want to finish the job in one piece.

You’re removing the tree to make your house a safer place. If you lose your life while cutting it down, then what’s the difference?

Mistake 2: Skipping the pre-work inspection

Not assessing your working area can be a big mistake. It is at this stage that you plan your tree cutting operation.

If the tree is leaning, you need to know which direction it leans.

If the tree has any structural defects, you need to analyze if it can be dangerous to cut it.

You also need to make sure that the tree doesn’t have any spiraling bark as it may indicate a spiraling wood grain interior.

This is a sign that it’s difficult to control the direction of the falling tree. Those with dead branches can’t be easily fell using the notch and drop technique.

If the base is rotten or hollow, you might need to change your cutting technique as well. 

Mistake 3: Not planning an escape route

When the tree is starting to lean, you need to be able to get away from the hazard area as soon as possible.

If you’ve not planned an escape route beforehand, you’ll end up panicking.

The worst scenario is that you end up running towards the felling area.

Do yourself a favor and plan map your escape route carefully. 

Mistake 4: Using a dull chainsaw

The ease of felling down a tree depends on the condition of your chainsaw. A dull chainsaw will not only slow down your work, but it can also be dangerous.

Sharpening the chainsaw is important. So always make sure that your chainsaw is sharp enough to make the cut. You can check the market to know what are the best chainsaw sharpeners.

Mistake 5: Not removing the stump

Once you’re done cutting the tree, you might feel that you’ve done your job already. You couldn’t be more wrong!

You don’t just leave the stump behind, especially if it’s in your yard. This will become home to insect infestation.

If termites start living in the tree stump, they might enter your home and destroy its overall structure.

What you should do is to kill the tree stump. You can do this with a rock salt or Epsom salt.

Drill holes into the stump and pour the salt in it. Do this regularly for several months until it’s dead. You can also try burning the stump with kerosene or chopping it off with a chainsaw and stump grinder. 


Keep these professional tips on how to fell a tree in mind if you ever plan to remove an annoying plant near your house. Also, remember not to make any common tree cutting mistakes.

Your priority while cutting a tree should always be the safety of you and those around the area.

If you are unsure whether or not you can do the task alone, ask help from a friend or a professional.

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