How to Cut Down a Tree With a Chainsaw Safely

Trees can be a beautiful addition to your property. They help increase property value and improve its aesthetics. On the flip side, these trees can pose harm to people, animals, or your home itself. This is especially true if the tree is already rotting or dead. That’s why there are times when they need to be cut down. Whether you’re looking for ways on how to cut down a tree with a chainsaw or an axe, we have compiled easy guides to help you get started.

Before you begin

Check if permit is needed

Before anything else, the first step you need to do is to apply for a permit. This step is important, especially if the tree is not on your own property. Check with your local tree commission to avoid fines. If you are unsure about the documents you need, you can hire services of a tree cut company.

Get the right tree cutting tools

When you are feeling trees, safety shouldn’t be an afterthought. Whether you are dealing with small or big trees, safety should be your priority. For you to do so, there are safety gear essentials you need to have and wear. Here are some of them:

  • Logger’s helmet – if possible, choose a helmet that provides an integrated safety system to protect your head, face and hearing.
  • First Aid Kit – to ensure the safety of yourself and everyone around you, it is best to have a first aid kit near you during the whole process.
  • Axe / Chainsaw – This is an essential piece of equipment that will be needed. invest in quality chainsaw or axe for your safety.
  • Rope – you can use the rope to pull down sections of the tree.

Take safety precautions

The next step is to take safety precautions. The last thing you want is for the tree or its branches to hit a person, wires, or fences as it falls down. Assume that the tree could fall in a different direction than you expect it to be. Hence, you need to have enough clearance all the way around the tree where you and bystanders can run to.

Pick a direction for the tree to fall

If the tree is leaning towards a certain direction, it’s easier to just let it fall naturally that way. However, if it’s leaning in the wrong direction and could hit a fence, your house, or other obstacles, it is best to ask help from a professional logger or arborist to get the job done safely.

After determining the direction, the next step is to make sure that the place where the tree will fall is clear. If you are only working on small or medium trees, measuring their vertical height will be easy. As a result, you can get an accurate measurement of how much space you must clear before you get started. However, if you are working on large trees, your best option to hire a professional who has the right tools to know the tree’s height.

How to cut down a tree with a chainsaw

After determining which direction the tree is going to fall, you’re all set to get started. Using a chainsaw is much faster and easier than using an axe. But the chance of injury is greater, so you need protective measures.

There are three cuts you need to make: two on the front and one on the back.

Make the notch cut

The first step is to make a face or notch cut.

This cut ensures the tree will fall in the direction you prefer. The notch will weaken the trunk so the whole tree will fall in the direction you prefer. Here are the three notch types that individuals can use during tree cutting.

tree types of notch cut
  • Open-faced notch cut – open-faced notch ranges from 70 up to 90 degrees.
  • Humboldt notch cut – this notch needs a 45-degree angle. To do so, you need a flat top cut and an angled bottom cut. The back cut needs to be about 1 inch above the top cut.
  • Conventional notch cut –In this notch, you need to have a 45-degree angle by making a flat bottom cut and an angled top cut. As for the back cut, it should just be about an inch above the bottom cut.

To achieve these cuts, be sure to stand to the side of the trunk while you are carving the notch cut.

Making the back cut

Once your guiding cuts are already in place, the next step is to make the final cut to bring down the tree. Start by working the chainsaw from the non-felling side of the tree. Create a horizontal cut up to the notch and even with the apex of the notch. If you feel that the tree is about to fall, remove the chainsaw immediately and move back away from the tree.

A Lookout Might Save Your Life

Bigger trees pose more harm than smaller ones. That’s why it is recommended to have an assistant who can keep an eye on the tree while you are working. This way he or she can give you a heads if the tree or its branch starts to fall. 

How much to cut down a tree

Another thing you want to be ready for is the cost of cutting down a tree. On average the cost to cut down a tree is about $100 up to $1,800, depending on the size of the tree. If the tree is small or just about 20 feet high, expect to spend $250. However, for trees 30 to 60 feet tall, the price ranges from $300 to $700, while those over 60 feet will cost between $800 and $1,800.

Click here to see Why is Tree Service So Expensive?


With this guide in mind, you now have a better idea on how to cut down a tree with a chainsaw or an axe. However, if you are not confident that you can do it properly, it is best to leave the job to the professionals. They have the best knowledge and tools to get the job done right.  All you have to do is search for a tree cutting service near me online and you will have many options to choose from.