How to fell a tree with a chainsaw

Man wearing protective outdoor clothing using a chainsaw to fell a big tree in a forrest.
(Image credit: Getty)

Trees are a superb choice if you’re looking to transform your yard into a secluded retreat. Yet there are times when you may need to cut down a tree, whether it’s obstructing the light or you’re freeing up space for something new. 

If that sounds familiar, you may want to learn how to fell a tree. With chainsaws, safety is paramount. If you’re new to using a chainsaw, we recommend building your confidence with smaller projects first. Felling a tree with a chainsaw is a skilled job. If you have any doubts, it’s best to consult a pro - it’s not worth the risk to your safety. Plus, you’ll want to avoid costly damage to your property.

If you’re more experienced in chainsaw projects and you’re cutting down a smaller tree, you may decide to tackle it yourself. We’ve consulted an expert to walk you through how to fell a tree. With chainsaws, it’s vital to protect yourself by considering potential hazards. Help is at hand as we’ll unpack the thought process. 

Chainsaws make light work of the most challenging jobs. Equip yourself with trusty tools with our guide to the best chainsaws (opens in new tab)

How to fell a tree with chainsaw 

Rick Jason Martineau
Rick Jason Martineau

Rick Jason Martineau has 5+ years of experience at Husqvarna Group and is currently the Senior Training Specialist for Tree Professional Products, Safety, and Advocacy for North America. He has had the privilege of being involved in the forest industry for over 40 years.

So, here's how to fell a tree with a chainsaw step-by-step.

1. Identify hazards and make a safety assessment

“Think smart, assess the potential risk, and be safe,” advises Rick Jason Martineau, Senior Training Specialist for Tree Professional Products at Husqvarna (opens in new tab)

“Look out for hazards, including people, powerlines, pets, and vehicles,” says Rick. Don’t forget any nearby buildings.

Next, study the tree. Does it lean? Is there more weight on one side? These factors influence the direction of the fall. Check for hazards like dead branches, which may become loose when you chainsaw the tree.

Clear any debris from the landing zone. Now is the time to plan your escape route. Identify a safe place to move to once the tree is felled.

If you’re in doubt, leave the following steps to an expert.  

2. Protect yourself 

Don your protective gear, including eye protection, gloves, ear plugs, work boots, and chaps. 

3. Cut a notch at the front

This step involves making a notch in the side of the tree in the direction you want it to fall. Take your time and mark a line with chalk. Make a downward cut a third of the way in. 

4. Make a back cut

This is the horizontal cut to meet the notch. Leave a small section to buy yourself time to complete a final safety check. Finish the cut and move to your safe place. 

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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.

With contributions from