Difficulty: 2 of 5


Whether it’s to clear land, stock up on firewood or prevent future damage to a home or property, felling a tree can be a fun, challenging outdoor project.


Always wear heavy work gloves, a full face shield and ear protection when operating a chain saw. Be aware of your surroundings and know who is in the vicinity of the work area. Steel-toed boots are recommended, as well. Felling a tree is inherently dangerous. If the tree is too big or too close to surrounding objects, or if you feel at all uncomfortable with the process, hire a professional tree service to do the job.


– Chain saw
– Ear protection
– Face shield
– Loppers
– Pruning shears
– Work gloves, heavy

Step 1: Take safety steps.

Before felling a tree, take safety precautions. Always wear heavy work gloves, a full face shield and ear protection. Have a partner on-hand to assist with the project. You should never fell a tree alone.
Wear gloves, a face shield and ear protection.

Step 2: Clear away the work area.

Take the time to clear the work area, which can mean using shears or loppers to remove tangled brush surrounding the tree that you plan to fell. You want to create an open and safe area in which to work.
Use shears or loppers to clear the work area.

Step 3: Plan the fall direction and escape route.

Determine the direction you want the tree to fall, which should always be away from structures and other trees. Choose a direction that will have the tree fall into an unobstructed clearing. Plan an escape route for yourself to keep from being injured when the tree falls. The escape route should be 45 degrees from the direction in which the tree will fall. Never plan an escape route directly behind the tree as the tree can kick back and cause serious injury.
The red arrow is the direction the tree will fall. The green arrow is the escape route.

Step 4: Make the first cut.

To fell a tree, you will be making a notch cut, which involves three cuts. The first cut is the notch, which is made at a downward 45 degrees into the tree. The middle of this cut should face exactly in the direction that you want the tree to fall. Cut about one-third of the way into the tree.
Cut the first notch.

Step 5: Make the second cut.

The second cut is made horizontally into the tree. It will meet with the end of the first cut, forming a triangle. The triangular wedge that will be cut from the tree should look like a slice of watermelon. This triangle will form the hinge on which the tree will pivot.
Make the second cut.

Step 6: Make the final cut.

The third and final cut, called the back cut, is done on the opposite side of the tree. Make a horizontal cut that is slightly higher than the horizontal cut on the bottom of the wedge. The tree will fall as soon as the critical depth of the cut is reached. Stand to the side of the tree, at a right angle to the cut, and extend your reach while making this final cut.
Make the final, or back, cut.

Step 7: Limb the tree with loppers first.

With the tree felled, it’s time to limb and buck the tree. Limbing the tree is cutting off all the branches and bucking the tree is cutting it into logs. Start by removing any small branches with a lopper. Loppers make quick work of removing small branches without the danger of using a chain saw in close quarters. As you cut the branches, move them away from the tree to clear space to work.

Use loppers to remove the smaller limbs.

Step 8: Use a two-cut process to remove load-bearing limbs.

If a limb is resting on the ground, it will be supporting the weight of the tree. For load-bearing limbs, start by making a vertical cut up into the limb then make a second cut from the top. This method keeps the weight of the tree or the weight of the limb from crushing the chain saw blade in the cut, pinching the blade and trapping it in place.
Use a chain saw on larger limbs.

Step 9: Make one cut to remove dangling limbs.

For places where the limb is hanging in the air, you can safely make just one cut from the top.
Make one cut for limbs hanging in the air.

Step 10: Buck the tree into fireplace or stove length logs.

Once all the limbs are cut off and hauled away, you can buck the tree into fireplace or stove length logs. Have your helper place a log under the end of the trunk of the tree, lifting the tree clear of the ground. Cut the logs into lengths to fit your fireplace or stove.

Use a log to lift the tree off the ground.

Step 11: Split and stack the wood at your convenience.

Pile the logs to dry. Later, you can split the wood into smaller pieces, ready to enjoy as a crackling fire.
Let the wood dry.