"Safely and Efficiently Cut Down a Tree: Expert Tips and Advice"
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Don the Appropriate Safety EquipmentWhen it comes to cutting down trees or operating chainsaws, safety should never be underestimated. Proper precautionary measures must be taken to avoid risks. There are absolutely crucial safety gear items that should be worn for any chainsaw work, especially when felling a tree. These include: - A logger's helmet to prevent injuries from falling branches - Earmuffs and a face screen to shield your ears and eyes - Safety glasses to protect against dust - Kevlar chaps to immediately halt a chain, in case the bar falls on your leg.
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Invest in Felling WedgesTwo plastic wedges used for felling can prevent your saw from getting caught while cutting. These can be found at any outdoor power equipment store that carries chainsaws.
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Estimating the Felling Zone: How to Fell a Tree as Per Your RequirementTrees are taller than expected and have longer branches than anticipated. If you plan on felling a tree, you should use the "ax handle trick" to determine where the tree will fall. Hold an ax handle at arm's length with one eye closed, and move towards or away from the tree until the ax's top is equal to the tree's top while the bottom is even with the tree base. Your feet should be where the top part of the tree will rest after falling, but as it is just an estimate, give extra space in case it falls on something else.
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Prepare for Tree Felling
Clear a Safe Zone for CuttingEven if you have determined the direction of the tree's fall, you need to take more steps before felling it. First, remove any surrounding vegetation around the trunk and provide two possible escape routes on the side where the tree will not fall. These routes must be positioned forty-five degrees apart from each other in the opposite directions. The last thing you want is to trip while running away from the falling tree.
Assess the TreeBegin by examining the tree in question. Do not fell the tree if there are:
- Damaged branches that are broken but still attached, or fallen ones that are being supported by other branches. One of these branches may fall and hit you.
- If the tree is obviously leaning in one direction or has too many branches on one side. It will fall where it leans or bulges, regardless of your felling attempts.
- Structures, fences, power lines, or other valuable items that you care about in the felling zone. In such cases, avoid felling and request professional assistance.
Mastering a Suitable NotchThe rule of thumb when cutting down a tree is to size the notch depth as one-fifth of the tree trunk's thickness. The target is to make the angles as illustrated in the manual within variable proximity. The felling cut must reach the point of your incision. As the tree starts falling, the hinge will assist in guiding the tree to fall accurately.
Sketch the Notch PlanThe notch will be cut on the side where the tree will fall. Aim your saw towards the fall direction through sighting the handle and adjusting accordingly. The area where the saw bar meets the bark marks the center of the notch. Before cutting, delineate the notch's outline by using chalk or chainsaw scoring on the bark. Create a notch at a comfortable height (you can trim the stump later).
The Notch Cutting TechniqueCutting the top notch before cutting the bottom will result in a more efficient notch. While making the bottom cut, adjust your hand to control the throttle with your thumb. In most cases, the wedge will drop out of the notch when the top cut is perfectly aligned. However, extending the cuts from either the top or the bottom might be necessary for the wedge to drop free.
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Using Wedges for Large TreesFor trees with a diameter of more than 18 inches, it is advisable to make the notch cut and begin the felling cut. Once you have penetrated far enough, stop cutting, leave the saw running in the cut and lock the chain brake. Pound wedges behind the bar and finish the cut. These wedges will prevent the saw from getting pinched in the cut if the tree leans back.
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The Felling Cut TechniqueConnect the apex of the notch on both sides using a cutting guide, then score a line on it. For the back cut, ensure it is even and parallel with the apex of the notch. Proceed to make the felling cut. When the tree begins to lean, pull the saw free, set the chain brake, and retreat using one of your escape routes. Keep an eye on the tree the whole time and react promptly if it does not fall in the intended direction.
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Having a Lookout for SafetyA trusted assistant should stand a few feet behind you when felling trees to ensure you are safe. They should watch the top of the tree for falling branches and let you know when the tree starts to fall. If the assistant taps you on the shoulder with a stick early on in the cut, leave the saw and walk away immediately, as this signals a falling branch. Toward the end of the cut, a tap on the shoulder means the tree is beginning its descent.
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Starting the Branch-Cutting Process from the TrunkOnce the tree has been chopped down, begin removing branches from the trunk's lower end and work your way up to the top. Whenever feasible, stand uphill from the tree. Work from the left side of the trunk (when you face the top of the tree). This way, you can use the saw's side or bottom to rest on the trunk and pivot the saw to remove the branches, making it the safest and most efficient way to use the chain saw.
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Cutting Firewood from the TrunkWhen sawing a log into firewood, begin by cutting three-quarters of the way into the log and forming a 16-inch length of firewood before turning it over and finishing the cuts.
Discover multiple ways to cut firewood using any tools you may have available.
Originally published on May 29, 2019.
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