So there’s a precarious looking arbor sitting trunk-distance from your humble home. Or maybe you just need firewood. But before you start swinging that axe or pushing that saw, you may want to know a few actual methods for how to fell a tree. Read on for some tactics that may come in handy, when you’re doing your best Paul Bunyan impression.
First, as was suggested in our introduction, take a look at your surroundings and make sure you have a clear avenue to fell the tree before proceeding. This includes other trees! If you’ve never seen a tree fall in the woods, they can have quite the domino effect on each other. Be aware of that while you make your plans.
Once you’ve made a thorough assessment of your surroundings, you should have a clear direction in mind to fell your tree. If the tree is already naturally leaning that way, great! If it’s leaning the other way, you’ll need to cut as many branches and as much weight as possible from the side you don’t want the tree falling on, using a pole saw. Then, take a long sturdy rope with a weight on the end, and toss it around the tree as high as you can. Have a buddy collect both ends of the rope, then walk out a safe distance (over twice the height of the tree) and begin pulling on the rope while you cut. If the lean looks too drastic for your skills of course, call a professional tree-clearing service who can assess the exact situation and will know what to do. If not, continue on with step three!
An open-directional notch is the easiest way to guide the path of a falling tree. Make a cut in the trunk at around a 60-degree angle, to a quarter of the tree’s depth/diameter. Now make a cut underneath straight across, that intersects with the top cut. This should carve out a notch facing the felling direction.
Double check to ensure there is nothing and no one within twice the tree’s length of the drop zone. Then when ready, start to saw in horizontally, on the opposite side of the trunk, a few inches above your notch. Stop a couple inches shy of the notch. This will create a hinge on which the tree will fall. If the tree is heavy enough, it will begin to fall right at this stage. If not, place a wedge (they have specific felling wedges for sale, if you’re fancy. If not, any strong wedged item, like a maul, will do) in your horizontal cut, and pound it in. Either way, as soon as the tree starts falling, run the opposite direction to a safe distance (and if your buddy is on the rope, tell him to run as he pulls).
That’s the process. Felling a tree is simple in theory, but takes a lifetime to master in practice. Now that it’s on the ground, you should be ready to process it into firewood for the cold months. So pick up that axe and get to work!
A humble homesteader based in an undisclosed location, Lars Drecker splits his time between tending his little slice of self-sustaining heaven, and bothering his neighbors to do his work for him. This is mainly the fault of a debilitating predilection for fishing, hunting, camping and all other things outdoors. When not engaged in any of the above activities, you can normally find him broken down on the side of the road, in some piece of junk he just “fixed-up.”