How to Cut Down a Tree With a Chainsaw (Safely)

| Last Updated: February 8, 2021

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Tree felling does sound scary, but if you have a reliable guide and some experience under your belt, it'll soon become second nature. Below, we'll show you exactly how to fell a tree with a chainsaw

Make sure you follow our guide to the letter; you must get each step correct. Otherwise, this increases the risk of disaster.  

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

Felling trees can be a dangerous task, especially for beginners. Below is a guide on how to correctly fell a tree and some chainsaw cutting techniques. 

How To Fell a Tree

  1. Keep an eye out for people, pylons, buildings, and other trees.

  2. Understand which way the tree could fall.

  3. Make sure the immediate area is clear from debris.

  4. Make a 70-degree angled cut to guide the tree more in a particular direction.

  5. Complete the cut, felling the tree. 

Chainsaw Cutting Techniques

  • Overbucking - Cutting from the top side down.

  • Underbucking - Cutting from the bottom side up.

  • Limbing - Removing any branches or limbs from a fallen tree.

  • Pruning - Removing any branches or limbs from a live, standing tree.

How to Fell a Tree With a Chainsaw

Need a guide? Here are the main steps:

1. Survey The Area For Hazards 

It's important to keep an eye out for any hazards such as electrical wires, pylons, people walking around in the danger zone, and keeping note of any buildings around the area. The last thing you want is for the tree to land on any of these things. 

2. Assess The Tree 

You should also keep an eye out for any dead branches, also known as widow makers for their deadliness, and vines that could change the direction of the fall.

If the tree splits off into multiple parts, you might have to cut one part off first and then fell the tree. The angle at which the tree is leaning is also important; this will determine a rough impact zone. 

3. Clear The Area From Debris  

Debris poses a major safety risk. If you cut a tree and it comes your way, the last thing you want is to trip over a pile of wood or branches in order to get out the way. Clearing the area of any hazards is important for your safety. 

4. Make A 70-Degree Cut  

Near the base of the tree, you're going to make a 70-degree cut at around ⅓ of the way inside the tree; this creates a hinge for the tree to then fall in that direction. 

If your tree doesn't have much of a lean, you can create one by cutting around the tree, not too much that you fell it, but enough to hammer some wedges in. 

5. Make The Final Cut 

You firstly want to know your escape route if all goes wrong. The incision you made for those wedges can now be met in order to fell the tree. As soon as you make that final cut, stand clear of the tree; it'll soon fall. 

If you would like a visual guide on how this is done, please take a look at this YouTube video:

Chainsaw Cutting Techniques

There are quite a few ways to cut trees and safely use a chainsaw; take a look below to see some of the most common. 

  • Overbucking - This is when you cut a log from the top side down.

  • Underbucking - The opposite of overbucking, cutting a log from the underneath to the top.

  • Limbing - This is when you cut all the branches and limbs from a fallen tree.

  • Pruning - This is similar to limbing, but the tree is still horizontal and attached to its stump.

Do's and Don'ts of Felling a Tree With a Chainsaw 

There are many rules and procedures that you should follow before cutting down a tree. Below are some important dos and don'ts of felling trees. 


Wear Protective Equipment - Helmets, gloves, goggles, ear protection, and boots are all important components of safely felling trees

Let Someone Know Your Plan - If you live alone or have to trek a small distance to fell a tree, it's important you let someone know when and where you're going. Accidents do happen, and if you don't check-in or arrive back on time due to an accident, you'll know help is on its way. 

Have An Escape Route - If a tree falls in the wrong direction, the first thing you want is to get as far away from that tree as possible. It's important that you have a few ideas of where to run when this happens. 


Assume The Direction - The worst thing you could do is just assume the direction that it'll fall without looking at the angle and which side looks heavier due to branches and limbs. 

Put Others At Risk - Other people's lives are at risk, so it's crucial that you make sure people and occupied buildings are out of harm's way. 


Felling a tree has plenty of preparation beforehand, but all of that preparation is important for yours and other people's safety. Follow our guide, and you'll be incredibly prepared to fell your first tree. 

People Also Ask

Below are a few answers to common questions regarding felling trees. 

What is the Average Time to Cut Down a Tree With a Chainsaw?

A professional would probably take a maximum of 20 minutes to complete this task. A beginner can expect to spend around 30 minutes or more if it's being done for the first few times. 

How Hard is it to Cut Down a Tree With a Chainsaw?

Practice makes perfect in any scenario. At first, it's terrifying, but when you get the hang of it, you soon realize that there's nothing to fear if you do everything correctly. However, always keep your wits about you.