Step-by-Step Instructions for Tree Felling Technology

If you have a large tree or trees in your yard, eventually cutting down one of them will probably be necessary perhaps for safety reasons, which can encompass a lot of different things, including interference with power lines, dead wood and storm damage.  Felling a large tree is very dangerous if not done properly.  Here are some step-by-step instructions for tree felling, but if you have no prior experience felling trees call in a professional like Canopy Tree because this type of work should only be entrusted to someone who knows what they are doing:

Make sure you have all of the tools you need


Tree Felling Technology

A chainsaw with the correct power and bar length, a sharp chain, and a full gas/oil tank.

A ladder and a rope.


Falling axe

Extra gas, tools to fix your saw, and files

Protection — a good quality hard hat, eye and ear protection, foot protection (steel toe boots), Kevlar leg coverings, and quality working gloves.

Use proper protection

Felling a tree is not easy.  It is a dangerous undertaking.  Dress in protective attire before starting the process, even experts in tree felling Sydney will agree with this.

Assess the tree, surroundings and hazards

Examine the tree for dead branches, loose bark, cracks or even debris.  Walk around the tree and take note of the direction it leans.  Look at branch distribution, the height of the tree, broken limbs located in the canopy that can fall.  Also find the best area for a drop zone (should be free of people or anything that can be damaged).  Beware of large branches from other trees touching or entangled with the tree you intend to cut down.  These will need to be removed from the adjacent tree.   Here you might be tempted to call in an expert like Canopy tree, but don’t worry.  It will be okay.

Examine the base of the tree

Look for signs of root instability including: other uprooted trees, roots near a river or lake, and cow pie fungus.

Make an escape route

Clear a path at least 30 feet from the stump.  If possible, your exit should be at a 45 degree angle from the sides and back of the tree.  It’s best to go behind another tree for protection if you can.

The Cutting Process

Clear out a workspace.

Sound the tree.  This means hit the tree with your axe to determine the soundness of the wood.  Sharp loud sounds or cracks tell you the wood is live, while dead wood sounds are hollow or muted.  Do this at several spots all around the tree and at various heights.

Determine the lay

The word lay refers to where the tree is going to fall.

Choose a direction that is a close to the tree’s natural leaning direction as you can, while being careful not to get the tree stuck in the branches of another tree.

Choose your lay, or drop zone, keeping mind of what the tree will do when it lands.  Uneven ground can cause a tree to roll, bounce, break, kick back at you, or even to explode.

Make the first cut, the horizontal cut

The first cut is horizontal and determines how deep the Face Cut will be, along with the direction of the tree’s fall.  Make it no higher than hip height.

The horizontal cut should be no deeper than 1/3rd the width of the tree.  The straight line of wood visible inside of the cut is the front of the holding wood.  The tree will fall perpendicular to this line.

A bit of information:  Most professional saws have “gunner sights”, a line that points perpendicular to the edge of the saw.  That’s what professional tree felling Sydney would tell you.  When these are pointing in the direction of fall, choose a point as reference for later.

Make the wedge cut

The wedge cut finishes the face cut by literally cutting a wedge out of the tree.

The horizontal cut should be 3″ above the angle made by the first cut.  This will prevent or reduce the chance of kick back.

The piece of wood that comes out of the tree should actually look like a slice of orange.

The face cut can be made from the bottom or the top of the first cut.  Face cuts that open down are known as a Humboldt cut, and are used to get the most wood out of a tree.

Make the back cut

Decide how thick you want your holding wood (the “hinge” with which the tree will fall) to be based on the face cut, and the size of the tree.  The safest way is to keep the maximum thickness of wood and still have the tree fall.

Make a mark on your side of the tree where you want your Back Cut to end, determining the width of the Holding Wood.  The Back Cut should be a horizontal cut at least 1.5 inches above your Horizontal Cut.

Start the cut on the back of the tree and bring the saw around in the direction of the holding wood.

Bring the edge of the cut on your side to your mark and pivot on this point, cutting.  Once you have space, place a wedge cut to discourage the tree from sitting back on your saw.

Continue cutting until the tuner sights are even with the spot you chose on the Horizontal Cut — signifying the holding wood is even on both sides — or the tree will begin moving.  As you do the Back Cut, keep looking up at the top of the tree an at your back cut.

Tap in wedge or add more wedges as the Back Cut progresses.  Continually look for signs the tree is moving in any direction and be ready to act based on where it may be headed.

Biography:  Jake Hyet is considered an expert on canopy tree felling Sydney, after having worked for  He has written extensively on tree cutting and caring for trees.

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