How to chainsaw a tree

How to chainsaw a tree
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The sense of achievement you get from completing a challenging project with your chainsaw is hard to beat. Whether you’re stocking up on firewood or removing a felled tree from your yard, you’ll need to know how to chainsaw a tree properly.

Chainsaws are powerful tools - it’s crucial to take safety precautions to protect yourself. We’ll walk you through how to chainsaw a tree safely so you feel more confident. 

Knowing how to cut down a tree with a chainsaw (opens in new tab) is a big project and it can be overwhelming, especially if you’re new to using a chainsaw. Help is at hand as we’ll walk you through what to do and the potential hazards to avoid. Seek advice from a pro if in doubt. We’ll cover how to remove the branches and cut your tree into manageable pieces once it has already been felled (we recommend seeking professional advice if you need to fell the tree). 

Chainsaws take the graft out of tough tasks like cutting trees. Choose the best tools for the job with our guide to the best chainsaws (opens in new tab).

How to chainsaw a tree: Step by step

1. Protect yourself

“Chainsawing a tree is a dangerous job, and it's important to approach it with the right mindset. First, you should wear protective clothing and eye protection,” says Melody Estes, Landscape Design Gardening Supervisor and a consultant at The Project Girl (opens in new tab)

Clear the space surrounding the tree and check for hazards, including people and animals.

2. Remove the branches 

Next, you’ll want to cut the branches from the trunk. The center of gravity will change as you remove branches and could cause the tree to move. Take your time and assess how each cut might affect the tree before you get to work. 

If a branch is supporting the tree, perform a series of cuts from the outside moving inwards to reduce tension and the likelihood of a branch springing back. 

According to manufacturer Stihl (opens in new tab), it’s crucial to avoid the chain becoming pinched. You may lose control of the chainsaw, and the device could kick back or pull forward. Reduce the risk by cutting with the length of the chainsaw rather than the tip. Engage the spikes on your device to boost your grip.

3. Cut the tree into manageable pieces

Finally, cut the length of the tree into small pieces. Avoid touching the ground with your chainsaw and blunting it. A nifty tip is to cut close to the bottom before rolling over the trunk to finish the job. 

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Louise Bond is a UK-based writer specializing in health and wellbeing. She has over eight years of experience in management within health and care and brings this passion and expertise to her writing. Louise has been published in The Guardian, Live Science, Fit & Well, Tom’s Guide, Planet Mindful, Breathe, and Psychreg. She is at her happiest when she is out in nature, whether that’s on an invigorating hike or pottering in the garden.