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How to Properly Use a Chainsaw When Tree Cutting [PICS]

It's exciting to get out in the woods and feel the power of a chainsaw cutting through wood, but make sure you know how to properly use a chainsaw before you go.

Chainsaws can be a very dangerous tool if you or the people around you do not know how to operate one.

Before you pick one up and start hacking away, make you know the proper way to use one.

Protective Equipment

Safety is one of the most important things when it comes to properly using a chainsaw. You need to wear eye protection, ear protection, strong boots, long pants, a long-sleeve shirt, gloves, and chainsaw chaps. The chaps are specifically designed to wear while operating a chainsaw and are a very important piece of gear.

A helmet is also a great piece of gear to have. Specific chainsaw helmets are made with attached flip-up mesh face shields and earmuffs.

Prepare the Tree

Safety does not only pertain to what you wear, but also the area around you. Check for any objects around the trees you plan to cut such as houses, other buildings, vehicles, or roads. If you are cutting near a road, place warning signs so drivers know what is happening.

Tree cutting safety sign and orange cone on the street warning about of danger zone with fallen branches and sawdust on the asphalt

Also look for other trees that may be hit while cutting down the desired tree. One tree falling and hitting another can create a domino effect and take out more than you wanted to.

Choosing a Direction

You must choose the direction in which you want the tree to fall. Sometimes the best direction for it to fall is the direction it naturally would depending on the slope of the ground, the direction the tree is already leaning, the direction most of the branches are hanging, or possibly the direction the wind is blowing.

Take into consideration these properties when deciding the direction you want the tree to fall as well as the objects around it listed above.

Limbing Lower Section

To properly use a chainsaw when felling a tree, you must first clear the lower section of the trunk. To clear any branches that may be in the way of your working, cut from the top with a downward stroke using the lower edge of the chainsaw.

Use the trunk of the tree as a barrier between you and your saw; do not stand directly behind the saw. Also, never work on anything higher than shoulder height.

Once you are done limbing, clear all the debris you have just cut off the trunk as well as the area around the tree in case you need room to retreat from the falling tree.

Fell in the Right Direction

The term "directional felling" is when you make the tree fall in a chosen direction. Now that you have already chosen the direction you want the tree to fall, you have to make it fall that way. To do this, you first make a "directional cut" and then a "felling cut" and the tree should fall the way you want it to.

Directional Cut


To properly use a chainsaw to fell a tree, you start with a directional cut. Start with your feet apart and your left shoulder leaned up against the tree trunk. Your top, front hand should be on the handle and facing the felling direction.

The first part of a directional cut is a top cut. Using full throttle on your saw, start high and make a downward cut of about 60 degrees and about ¼ to 1/5 of the trunks diameter in length.

Next is your bottom directional cut. Using full throttle again, start low and cut upwards of about 30 degrees and stop exactly when you reach your top directional cut. Do not stop short or cut any farther.

If done correctly, you should have made a 90-degree notch out of the tree.

Felling Cut


To finish felling the tree, you need to make the felling cut. This cut should be level with the tip of the directional cut or slightly above it. Do not cut all the way through the trunk.

If the trunk's diameter is smaller than the bar of the chainsaw, you can cut directly from the back of the tree and move the saw toward the felling direction.
If the diameter is larger than your chainsaw bar, bring the saw in from the side and move backwards around the tree as you cut.

Once the cut is about halfway done, stop the saw and insert a wedge into the cut. This will make the rest of the cut easier and prevent the tree from falling back and trapping the saw. Once the wedge is in place, you can finish the cut.

If the tree you fell gets stuck on the way down on another tree or object, do not leave it there. It should be taken down with a winch. You can take down trees twice the size of your chainsaw bar in diameter, but this takes practice and experience.

Now you now how to properly use a chainsaw when tree cutting, but you should never work alone in the woods and if you need help, ask for it.

For more tips on how to fell trees visit Jonsered's website.

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How to Properly Use a Chainsaw When Tree Cutting [PICS]