How to Use a Chainsaw – Felling Techniques – Step 8

There are two popular felling techniques most commonly used today: the standard or common notch and the open face technique.

Your owner’s manual will describe various techniques for making felling cuts. In this video, we will show you the basic techniques using the bar that is suitable for the size of the tree we are falling. If the tree you will be falling is larger in diameter than the usable bar length of your chainsaw, you will need to utilize special techniques to safely fell the tree. In this case, if you are not a trained professional, it is highly advised that you leave these larger trees to a professional with the right equipment and training.

Let’s begin at how the standard or common notch technique works. The notch you cut in the tree will consist of one cut that is horizontal level with the ground and a second cut that is at a 45-degree angle. These two cuts will intersect with each other, creating the felling notch. The side of the tree that you create the notch in will be the same side that you want the tree to fall. Here you can use your felling sites to help you properly position the notch and the hinge that will help control the felling of the tree. Point your felling site to the location you want the tree to fall will give you the 90 degree angle that you will want for a properly placed notch.

As you cut, always watch for weakness or rot in the tree. If the tree is weak or rotted, it is advisable that you have a trained professional remove the tree.

Make you 45 degree cut first with a depth into the tree approximately 1/5 to ¼ of the tree trunk’s diameter. Next, make your horizontal cut intersecting with the 45-degree cut; creating a wedge that can be removed from the tree. It is extremely important that these two cuts meet exactly so take your time, making certain that you get it right.

You’ll now move to the rear of the tree and begin the felling cut. If there’s any loose bark on the backside of the tree, use your ax to dislodge the bark around the area that you would be making your felling cut. This cut will be horizontal and should be 1 to 2 inches high than the horizontal cut of the felling notch made earlier.

Always stay to the side of the tree when making your felling cut. Never work from directly behind the tree as the tree could split and come backwards with deadly force, an event called barber chirring.

As you begin to make the felling cut, add your plastic wedges to the back of the cut. These will keep the tree from settling back into the cut and pinching your guide bar and it will also be instrumental in felling the tree, particularly if there is insignificant lean towards the desired felling direction.

The hinge you create when done properly will leave approximately 1/10 of the diameter of the tree uncut. Never cut into the hinge. Doing so could cause you to lose control of the direction of the fall.

Once you have correctly made your hinge with the felling cut and if the tree has sufficient lean, it will begin its fall the ground. When you see the tree begin to fall, immediately remove the saw from the cut. Turn it off with the chain brake engaged and withdraw from the cutting area, using one of the your preplanned escape routes. Never remain near the tree during its fall.

If you have finished making your back cut but the tree is not falling, you use your wedges to complete the task. One hit at a time, drive the wedges further into the felling cut, waiting a few moments for the tree to absorb the dynamics of the wedging process. Continue the process until you see the tree begin to make its fall. Again, retreat to a safe distance while the tree falls. If for any reason, the tree still won’t fall after properly wedging it, do not attempt to make additional cuts with your chainsaw. This could result in serious or fatal injury. Bring the tree down with a cable wench, block and tackle or heavy equipment such as a tractor or bulldozer.

The second type of felling cut is the open face cut, used by many of today’s professionals. Unlike the standard or common technique, the open face uses an angle bottom cut ha allows the tree to utilize the hinge throughout the fall all the way to the ground, give you more control of the felling process. Again, you’ll use the felling sites to direct the tree’s fall in the desired location.

Make your first cut down approximately a 50-degree angle to a depth of approximately 1/5 to 1/4 of the trunk diameter. Make the second cut from below at approximately a 40-degree angle. These cuts must match exactly and will result in a 90-degree wedge removed from the tree.

When you make your back cut or felling cut, it should be horizontal and 1 to 2 inches above the apex of the open face cut or above where the two cuts on the open face meet, creating the proper hinge. Again, using your wedges just as you did with the standard common technique to fall the tree.

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